The organisers of Gefiltefest – the Jewish Food festival – should be feeling pretty chuffed right now, having not only pulled off a brilliant and inspiring event, but also persuading me to get up early on a Sunday and make the train journey to London! I’m so glad I went. Read on to find out more…
Gefiltefest was held at JW3, the London Jewish Cultural Centre, which was an excellent venue. Their outdoor area (‘the piazza’) was transformed into a bustling market filled with kosher foodie delights. Each stall held something delicious, interesting, or (best-of-all) both. Alongside the familiar Jewish and/or Israeli foods such as bagels and shakshuka, there was also chocolate, spices & herbs, olive oil, pesto & harissa, wines & spirits, ice-creams and of course, smoked salmon! I’ll be reviewing some of these here on Family-Friends-Food soon, so do keep checking back…
For lunch, the choice was almost impossible, but I finally opted for brick a l’oeuf – a deep fried North African treat consisting of a thin sheet of ‘brick’ pastry wrapped around a raw egg, grated cheese and sliced onion, and then deep fried. The end result was a crispy parcel of deliciousness! Gooey cheese, runny egg yolk, crisp & golden pastry… My friend Marjorie described it as “phenomenal!” and I have to agree. My brick was made for me by Fabienne Viner-Luzzato of Home Cooking by Fabienne, who gives cooking lessons to children & adults, and delivers home-cooked kosher meals (in London).
I also enjoyed a few scoops of Antonio Russo dairy-free (parve) ice-cream. I tried the chocolate, apricot and strawberry flavours and they all had a very creamy texture. The full range (which also includes vanilla and coffee flavours) is available in Tesco stores with a kosher section.
Alongside the food market, Gefiltefest also boasted a full programme of talks, demonstrations and workshops for both adults and children, on an extremely wide range of subject matter. There were classes and talks on salads, cheese, challah baking, biblical herbs & spices, hummous, Latino-Jewish cuisine, fermenting, raw desserts, and many more.
My real highlight was seeing Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer of Honey & Co. giving a talk and cookery demo. In just under an hour they whipped up a batch of chocolate & pistachio cookies, an mouthwateringly fragrant shakshuka (with 15 cloves of garlic!), and a batch of crispy & delicious knafeh.
Knafeh is a syrup-soaked, cheese filled dessert made with shredded pastry (katafia). I’ve eaten it in Israel but always been to intimidated to try and make it myself, however Sarit made it look simple, and the result was gorgeous. I’ll be buying their forthcoming book – Honey & Co: The Baking Book – so that I can give it, and the delicious chocolate cookies, a try.
There really was so much to see and do, that I could go on and on, but I won’t. I will just mention in passing the beer brewing, the sushi-making workshop, and the Noah’s pudding – “an Islamic dish that commemorates the landing of Noah’s Ark – a story of equal significance within Islam and Judaism.”
I also ran into some friends whose children had been having a whale of a time on the kid’s programme, learning to make sourdough, pickled cucumbers, and healthy cake pops. They seemed very enthusiastic, especially about the pickles! It was lovely to see so many families enjoying the event, enthusing their children about the vast variety of Jewish foods that are available to us.
The organisers described Gefiltefest as “Celebrating Jewish heritage through food” and I think the event really lived up to its billing. I had a great time and I’m looking forward to using newly discovered ingredients and trying to recreate some of the wonderful things I saw and tasted. Watch this space for more Gefiltefest follow-up, or subscribe to my newsletter to get new recipes direct to your inbox!