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Desperate dash for last-minute Rosh Hashana dinner/catering - prepared foods?

Hey everyone,

I was invited to a friend's house for the holidays tomorrow evening in Oakland (7pm) and wanted to bring some prepared (and typically Jewish) foods. Noodle kugel, knishes, kreplach or verenikas, chocolate rugelach, etc.

I am picking up some fresh baked challa rolls, rye loaf and shmear, chopped liver, a pickle platter, and chocolate babka from Wise Sons Deli in the Mission. Due to time constraints and demand for the holiday rush, they're unable to offer anything more substantial however.

Is there anywhere that I can pick up a really great kugel, some knishes, rugelach, etc. in the Bay Area? I'd even be willing to rent a zip car if necessary.

Is there a deli matching Wise Sons in quality that offers catering/prepared foods? A Jewish bakery perhaps?

Any help would be appreciated as this is very last-minute and I want to ensure that we have enough side dishes and deserts to bring for everyone!

Thanks so much

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  1. Does Miller's offer prepared take-away foods?

    Is there kugel any good? What about blintzes and knishes?

    2 Replies
      1. re: OliverB

        Just to save you some time, Miller's is not on the level of a Wise Sons, and aside from maybe a Knish, doesn't carry the food you're looking for.

        Moly Stone's will have some things, like a honey cake, or rugelach, though not cheap.
        House of Bagels, if open, will have some things.

        It sounds like Wise Sons provided you with appetizing, which you can easily flush out with the addition of bagels, lox, capers, etc. You can also bring a brisket.

        Hopefully the host will provide food.

      2. Call Marilyn at Poulet
        (510) 845-5932
        http://pouletdeli.com/rosh_hashanah_m...

        I love her kugel.

        1. Where in Oakland are they? Caddy corner from Rockridge Bart is Market Hall which usually has a nice selection of Jewish stuff (not necessarily kosher)

          1 Reply
          1. Thanks everyone and sorry for the delayed response.

            The dinner was postponed to a post-holiday Shabbat on the 21st, so Wise Sons is now catering everything. I've ordered the following and am waiting for confirmation and pricing:

            Mixed deli platter of corned beef, pastrami, and turkey, matzo ball chicken noodle soup, challa rolls, rye loaf, Beauty's bagels, scallion schmear, bialys, coleslaw, half-sour pickles, pickled beets, chopped liver, noodle kugel, rugelach, seasonal fruit salad, and chocolate babka.

            The only items that I'm still looking for are knishes and verenikas, cheese blintzes, cabbage rolls, and karnatzel. I figured that Miller's would be able to take care of most of these, I just wonder if they will be any good as I've read mixed reviews here? They don't necessarily have to be on the level of Langer's, but are they at least a competent deli and could I pick up cabbage rolls, knishes, and blintzes without too much worry? Where would I find karnatzel btw?

            Thanks again!

            21 Replies
            1. re: OliverB

              I'd never heard of Karnatzel before, but found a description in the Encyclopedia of Jewish food describing them as either a meat patty or a beef pepperoni-like Montreal thing. Not sure where you'll find either ... some web searches confirm it as a Canadian focused food. I've eaten similar things throughout the Richmond district, but I'm pretty sure those are all kabanosy made with pork.

              http://books.google.com/books?id=ojc4...

              1. re: hyperbowler

                Hm, I guess it's a Montreal term. It's easily found in Jewish delis throughout New York though, they probably just call it something different. They aren't pattys though, they're dried and cured links. What is the American term for them- anyone know?

                1. re: OliverB

                  Karnatzelach are Roumanian, not a Montreal specialty.

                  It was featured in Aaron Lebedeff's song Roumania, Roumania

                  It is a ground meat appty heavy on garlic. Similar to a sausage patty as opposed to a link.

                  1. re: bagelman01

                    This is not at all the same thing as Montreal karnatzel. There is no garlic flavoring, nor ground meat patty. They're dry aged and cured links. This is commonly known as karnatzels or 'nash'. Schwartz's is actually the only place I've seen or heard it referred to as nash, but I always order 'karnatzel' at the counter nonetheless.

                    1. re: OliverB

                      Reuben Schwatz who opened Schwartz's Deli in 1928 was an immigrant from Roumania.
                      He adapted foods from his homeland for the Montreal Marketplace. Aging and curing the sausage in links allowed for longer shelf life in a commercial setting. Back in Roumania, housewives would make Karnatzelach from ground meat scraps. Garlic help hide the odor of turning meat and helped keep vampires away <VBG>.

                    2. re: bagelman01

                      According to that linked book entry and OliverB's experience, in Montreal at least, the term refers also to a dried beef link. It's like they've got their own language up there or something :-)

                      1. re: hyperbowler

                        Think of an artisanaly made dried-meat sausage, cousin to the 'slim jim' - not mechanically separated and without the preservatives and artifical crap! It generally tends to have crispier skin and less moisture due the aging process of the salami. I'm pretty sure that Schwartz's "nash" is derived from the Yiddish term "nosh" which means to snack. For the record, karnatzel is not exclusive to Schwartz's. You can find it sold at all good Jewish delis in Montreal. Even crappy chains like Dunn's have it on their menu!

                        Apparently Centre Street in Toronto has them as well:

                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwTOZV...

                        This is how you eat karnatzel, rolled between a fresh slice of rye and topped with yellow deli mustard!

                        1. re: OliverB

                          Thanks for the tip about karnatzel. I just picked some up from Schwartz's, and they're making an excellent layover meal. These are really good and closer to a kosher salami in flavor than the smokey kabanosy you can get in the Richmond district, and which look almost identical. Sorry to say, but I'm even more doubtful now that an equivalent is available in the Bay Area

                2. re: OliverB

                  I'd be surprised if Millers makes their knishes in house.

                  1. re: OliverB

                    Of the Russian/Eastern European places in the Richmond district, Cinderella Bakery has the best blintze-like item, I forget what it's called.

                    Frozen vareniki/pierogies/etc. are ubiquitous in the Richmond district, but their doughs are all simple godawful, and none incorporate a dairy product (e.g., sour cream or butter). Cinderella did have a really nice housemade dumpling on its menu last time I was there, but I don't recall its name.

                    The picture on Miller's webpage shows a baked knish and a deep fried "Coney island potato." Definitely call them to see if they're housemade--- I'm not sure I've seen a fried knish in the past few decades that was house made

                    http://www.millerseastcoastdeli.com/f...

                    Saul's in Berkeley makes its own baked knishes. They're not as good as ones I've had in Coney Island, but they're certainly better than the drek at Yonah Schimmels in NY.

                    1. re: hyperbowler

                      Thanks a million!

                      I've heard awful things about Saul's though... I almost trust Miller's (even if not house made) over Saul's based on the feedback from friends and even reviews posted here on CH.

                      Are Cinderella's blintzes proper Jewish-European style? Miller's would be more convenient (I'm sure they sell them for take-out) but I would hike out to the Richmond if you feel they would be far superior.

                      Thanks again!

                      1. re: OliverB

                        My family (raised in Brooklyn) loved Cinderella's "blinchiki", but I couldn't identify how or if they differed from a blintz. Blinis tend to be puffier and small so they didn't resemble those. They were a thin yellowish-white elastic crepe, filled with sweetened cheese. I can't recall if they fry them. I'd highly recommend them, but before schlepping there, would call them ahead of time to see if they could answer what I've been unable to.

                        http://cinderellabakery.com/assets/Ci...

                        1. re: hyperbowler

                          Thanks so much!

                          I will definitely give Cinderella's a go for their stuffed cabbage, potato verenikis, and sweet cheese blinis. They looks amazing (photos on Yelp)!

                          How many stuffed cabbage rolls (as appetizers/sides) do you suppose would be needed to feed 3 people, with an overload of other food?

                          Cheese blintzes btw, are usually more of a baked dessert pastry. Often shaped like a bagel or horseshoe, sometimes sprinkled with large grains of sugar, and best toasted or baked to a golden brown crunchy texture. They're usually filled with sweet creamy cheese, which adds a lovely contrast to the warm baked crumbly pastry exterior.

                          1. re: OliverB

                            Where are blintzes pastry? The ones I know are crepes.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              In Montreal, most delicatessen take-outs and Jewish bakeries and diners sell them as horseshoe shaped pastries. They look like this: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3271/25...

                              I suppose that might be considered a Montreal 'cheese bagel' however they are regularly refered to as blintzes locally. They are best served hot out of the oven (or reheated in the toaster!) As mentioned, sometimes they are made (usually with the option) of granulated sugar topping.

                            2. re: OliverB

                              Really? All that for 3 people? Are you trying to kill them? ;-> )

                              L' shanah tovah!

                              1. re: OliverB

                                Second the Cinderella suggestion. They've recently downsized their operation, and fancied up a few of their offerings, but it's the best in the city for things like Jewish/Eastern European style blintzes. You can also visit the other Richmond area Russian bakeries, but Cinderella is a safe bet. Same with stuffed cabbage, etc.

                                In the case of cheese blintzes, there are two types of cheese standard in these things, and it's best to ask if it's the style you like. There's the sweet cream, and there's also a farmers cheese, which can also be sweet, or more like a thick cottage cheese.

                                Never seen a circular, rounded blintz in SF or NY. Not sure about LA. Cheese knishes can be found, but they sometimes look more like a streudel.

                              2. re: hyperbowler

                                They aren't the East Coast blintzes that I'm used to seeing, but here's what Miller's offerings look like - more similar to the blinchkis at Cinderella's than what I described below:

                                http://www.millerseastcoastdeli.com/f...

                                I'm guessing that Cinderella's would surely blow these away based on your feedback?

                                I may skip these altogether and just pick them up from Cinderella!

                                1. re: OliverB

                                  Yup, those look like what I had at Cinderella (Cinderella's looked fresher). I've never been to Millers, so unfortunately can't directly compare.

                                  Now that I think about it, frying a finished blintz isn't necessary--- I've made blintz wrappers at home in a frying pan like crepes, filled them, and then placed the lot of them in a buttered dish and then baked them to achieve the browning.

                                  BTW, thanks for the karnatzel iintroduction. I'm going to Montreal soon and will seek some out!

                                  1. re: hyperbowler

                                    My pleasure! You can get them to go or sit-down at Schwartz's and request either well-aged (harder) or less-aged (softer). I like to get them somewhere inbetween, but if given the choice, hard karnatzel is preferred!

                                    I would often pick them up in bulk (along with pickles and deli meats) from Snowdon Deli around the Snowdon area, due to convenience. They're a perfect pairing with a medium old-fashioned smoked meat, fries, knish or verenika, coleslaw, half-sour, and black cherry soda.

                                    Try a cheese bagel while you're in town too... apparently they're a regional thing, which I never realized until now. I always assumed they were just as prevalent in New York City and throughout the East Coast, but I guess not!

                                    1. re: OliverB

                                      Excellent, will do!

                                      Everywhere I've lived in the US has had Ashkenazis lusting for the foods "only available in NY." I'm so excited to hear that, in addition to bagels and Montreal smoked meat, there's a wealth of new Jewish foods to be tried and lusted after in Montreal.

                        2. Okay, so the only thing that Wise Sons can't fill is the order for rugelach.

                          Is there any where else in the Bay Area that sells really good homemade rugelach?

                          Also, does anyone know what Beauty's Bagels hours are? Would it be idealistic to assume I could drive over after work on Friday to pick up a a half dozen fresh bagels or is it a first come first served morning thing? I'm used to the 24hr Montreal fresh turnaround, so just wondering?

                          Thanks!

                          11 Replies
                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Thanks! Looks like I need to find a cheap car rental for the day if I'm running between Beauty's in Oakland, Miller's, Wise Sons, and then back out to Oakland for dinner again with all of this food. Good to know!

                            2. re: OliverB

                              Crixa make great rugelach but they don't look home made, at least not like any I ever made, and they are fairly large.
                              http://www.crixacakes.com/archives/pa...

                              1. re: wolfe

                                I'm pretty sure Crixa's are made at Crixa, but they're not the standard "homemade" type most of us are used to. The dough (pastry dough maybe) is thin and flaky, and far more refined than the leaden treats I consider comfort food.

                              2. re: OliverB

                                Try this source:

                                www.debbiesrugelach.com

                                Debbie sells at the San Mateo (Saturday) farmer's market and in some retail outlets. I know Debbie, she is the sister of a good friend of mine, and I swear, they are really, really good. Almost as good as the ones my late, beloved grandmother made. If I said better than, I'd surely hear Grandma roll over in her grave.

                                1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                  Thanks so much!

                                  I'll be curious to compare with my new benchmark, which is Marzipan bakery in Jerusalem... the best chocolate rugelach I've ever had in my life!

                                  I'll give her a ring this morning, but hope that she'll be able to fill a small order before the Saturday market as our dinner has moved to Friday the 21st, for Shabbat instead of Yom Kippur.

                                  1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                    Oh wow -- apparently she sells them at Bi-Rite Market, which is just up the street from me!

                                    I wonder if they'd be as fresh though??

                                    1. re: OliverB

                                      I don't know her delivery schedule but I'm sure if you contact her direct, she'll find a way to accommodate you. Her business is growing from where she (re)started it a few years ago. She sells small prepacks at the farmer's market so maybe she can do a small order for you.

                                      1. re: OliverB

                                        I forgot to mention....I was back in Brooklyn this past July and went to one of the bakeries in my old 'hood (Boro Park) and got some rugelach. Not nearly as good as Debbie's. Not even close.

                                        1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                          My gold standard rugelach would be from Isaac's Bakery, across from DiFara. Are Debbie's that good?!

                                          1. re: foodeye

                                            I haven't been there so I can't compare. But yeah, they're really good, and not just because I know her. Last time I saw her at the San Mateo farmer's market, a couple came up and Debbie said they buy from her every single week. She's really built a business from nothing and finally making a go of it.

                                            I just remembered something else. 3 years ago I did a reception for my son after his senior year (college) music recital. I had assorted desserts, some purchased and some homemade, both mine and her rugelach. And my cookies were pretty good (not my recipe, a long story but still always a hit). Debbie's were completely gone at the end of the party and there was plenty of everything else left.