My husband has this fantasy - he's invited to a Seder for Passover and none of the food resembles anything from Seders past. No jarred gefilte fish - no hard as rocks matzoh balls, no overcooked brisket (have I whet your appetite yet?)
Actually, part of that picture is incredibly untrue - my mother used to (and probably would if I promised to come 'home' to NY this year) make delicious gefilte fish by hand. Yeah, I know. It's an acquired taste.
Anyway, it's not that my husband doesn't like Ashkenazi Jewish food - as he put it this morning - "why does the same menu get served on every Jewish holiday?" "Why can't we be a bit more like Christians when it comes to our holiday meals?" he asks. They know if they have ham at Christmas then they have turkey at Easter. It's simple he said. Brisket at Hannukah, Chicken at Passover he muses.
I, on the other hand have fantasies of gourmet Jewish holidays. Morrocan dishes of oven cooked lamb, grilled spring vegetables, French quenelles instead of matzoh balls, assorted cheeses with dried nuts and fruit instead of those wretched 'slices' of watermelon shaped candy. Fois gras instead of chopped liver (ok, I know now I'm really dreaming ....)
Now, don't get me wrong - I like a good potato kugel (for those who don't know picture McDonald's hash browns in a big pan cut into squares) and am even partial to stuffed cabbage (years ago a restaurant called Tulipe - now long gone - in LA used to make the most ethereal French style version of this dish).
And Zeke's Barbeque in Hollywood does do a pretty mean brisket if you're going the take-out route.
And as a wine lover, I finally have figured out that the real reason that the tradition has carried on to drink lots of sweet wine that gives you an incredible hangover is that you really probably don't want to remember all those courses of less than memorable food the next day. If, at all.
So here's a few links to some exceptional recipes that can be prepared on this holiday
Fois Gras http://gourmetfood.about.com/od/appetizers/r/foiemousse.htm (substitute matzoh for toast)
Morrocan Lamb Stew http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/appetite-for-adventure/moroccan-lamb-stew-with-preserved-lemons-recipe/index.html or http://moroccan-food.suite101.com/article.cfm/moroccan_lamb_stew
Savor this meal with Cotes du Coast a viognier, rousanne and marsanne blend for the quenelles and fois gras, Pizzuli 2007 Sangiovese with the lamb and 2006 Eric Kent Dry Stack Syrah - all available at Wine Valet http://wine-valet.com or call 310.274.9224.