What makes Purim so special? Maybe it’s the heroic story of Queen Esther. Whatever you decide, it is still one of the happiest of all Jewish holidays. Filled with accounts of bravery, it tells the story of Queen Esther and how she helped defeat the wicked minister Haman in ancient Persia.
Paris, the City of Lights, also brims with the bright light of Jewry. Jewish history stretches back more than 2,000 years in France, and Jewish life in the city best known for the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame dates to the first century B.C.E.
Bring a bite of Israel home with delicious falafel sandwiches made with amazing Israeli food products easily found in your local grocery store. These are perfect to pack for lunch, grab as a light snack or serve as a main course for dinner. B’tayavon!
The Santa Clarita Valley could become home to the world’s largest falafel ball on May 15, when local chef Dawn Walker tries to craft and cook a deep-fried chickpea patty that will outweigh the 24-pound falafel ball that set the record a year ago in New York. Part of the third annual Santa Clarita Valley Jewish Food and Cultural Festival, Walker’s attempt will be documented for the Guinness Book of World Records. If a test run held two weeks before the event is any indication, the ball could end up weighing as much as 50 pounds.
My fascination with Israeli food started the first time I tasted a falafel laced with tahini at a little sidewalk cafe in Westwood, near UCLA. Inspired by this simple Israeli dish, I began developing a list of Middle Eastern recipes that grew with each trip to Israel.
The Agoura Meadows Shopping Center, an overgrown strip mall located in a particularly pastoral nook of the Conejo Valley, contains a surprisingly diverse array of international restaurants: Hong Kong Express, Italia Deli & Bakery and Sushi Ozekii flank an enormous Vons. Just around the corner are Alamo Mexican Grill and its unlikely neighbor, Falafel Grill, a Glatt kosher Israeli restaurant. Falafel Grill is the only establishment that provides outdoor seating; a midweek lunch finds a number of lone middle-aged men enjoying a shwarma plate and taking in the sun before heading back to the office to get down to business.
The last time you bit into a falafel sandwich you were probably thinking about nothing more than the warm spice and crunch of the chickpea fritters and the way they played against the soft bread, crisp vegetables and nutty tahini sauce.