Passover, perhaps more than any other holiday, fits the classic Jewish saying, “they tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat.” As recalled from my annual “A Rugrats Passover” viewing, the story goes something like this: The Egyptian pharaoh enslaves the Israelites. Moses demands that the Pharaoh “let his people go.” God imposes ten plagues on the Egyptians as punishment. The Jews are freed and they leave Egypt so quickly that their dough does not have time to rise.
There’s no better time than a Passover Seder to celebrate local food and drink. Rather than mourning what they did not have as they fled Egypt, the Israelites enjoyed what was available to them and created a feast of unleavened bread. Passover also falls at the beginning of spring, and is thus a time to revel in the bounty of vegetables that are available — both as part of the Seder and throughout all eight days of the holiday.
Seder necessities, including everything from the shank bone to kosher wine, are available in our backyard. Consider using the suggestions below to host an entirely local Seder this year.
The Seder Plate: Isabel Halley
Ceramicist Isabel Halley, who splits her time between Tribeca and Upstate New York, handcrafts and paints these 22-karat gold-lined Seder plates. The plates are available at The Jewish Museum on the Upper East Side.
Lettuce, Parsley and Salt: Foragers
Foragers grows many of their own herbs and vegetables on their farm in Columbia County, so they’re a one-stop shop for all your local Pesach vegetable needs. Pick up your lettuce (maror) and parsley (karpas), and dip the parsley in salt water made from their Amagansett Sea Salt.
Shank Bone: Dickson’s Farmstand Meats
Dickson’s Farmstand works with local farms that use only the most sustainable practices, making them the perfect place to purchase your lamb shank (z’roa). Their lambs are raised on Sir William Angus Farm in Crayville and Woolley Sheep Farm in Rutland, both only a few hundred miles north of the city. Shank bones sell out fast before Passover, so be sure to call ahead to reserve yours.
Passover correlates with the beginning of egg season at Greenmarket. There are plenty of farm stands with egg cartons stacked high this time of year, so choose the farm you like best. Use one egg (beitzah) on your seder plate, and save the rest for a week’s worth of matzo brei.
Charoset and Horseradish: Zabar’s
Zabar’s is a Passover gold mine. If you’re not planning on making your own charoset this year, try their homemade version. They also sell horseradish (chazeret) from ish, which is made and packaged in the Hudson Valley. While you’re there, be sure to buy yourself one of their incredible flourless chocolate tortes. Though not technically a Seder necessity, I’ve never gone a Passover without one.
Matzo Ball Soup: Union Market
Since matzo ball soup kicks off the meal, it needs to be good. The matzo balls and chicken broth from Union Market are made with “the magic of home” by Classic Cooking, an adorable little company that uses dad’s recipes to create Jewish classics from their space in Brooklyn.
The second largest matzo producer in the country is located smack in the middle of the Lower East Side. Streit’s has been baking matzo since 1925, sticking with their original recipe and their original location despite their growth. You can purchase a box (or, like my family, twenty boxes) from essentially any food store in Manhattan.
Manischewitz, the most widely consumed kosher wine in the US, produces seven varieties of K for P wine at their cellars in Naples, NY. Since each Seder-goer drinks four glasses of wine throughout the night, that gives you four chances to celebrate local liquor.
Photo Credit: Tumblr / Isabel Halley