A mammoth restored warehouse may be an unlikely space for an event that was representative of the renaissance of the Washington, DC, Jewish culinary community. But indeed it did play host, this past Sunday, to a gathering that united a range of delicious components for one spectacular afternoon at the Nosh, Sip and Schmooze event featuring acclaimed chef, food blogger and author Amy Kritzer. (Check out all the photos here!)
First, back to the warehouse. Refurbished and industrial-chic in the Northeast’s vibrant Ivy City neighborhood, it’s home to One Eight Distilling, named for the part of the constitution that calls for the establishment of a district to serve as the nation’s capital—and also happens to be an important numerical in Jewish text. Founders Sandy Wood and Alex Laufer opened the outfit in early 2015, and have been leading the charge of made-in-DC craft distilling through small-batch vodka, gin, whiskey and more. Given that they’re active members of the Jewish community, it was only natural that over their cocktail handiwork would the community come together in a most spirited fashion. Laufer was also kind enough to lead 30-minute tours of the facility, giving a rarely seen behind-the-scenes view of the distilling process.
Headlining the event was Amy Kritzer. Kritzer, as bubbly as a sparkling Manischewitz, is one of the most celebrated Jewish food writers today. She’s the founder of the enormously popular What Jew Wanna Eat blog and author of the just-released cookbook Sweet Noshings. An Austin transplant and a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Kritzer’s been a leader in the growing Jewish food scene across the country, with creative and charming takes on classic Jewish food. She’s written about everything from Top 10 Latke Tips (critical for this season) to candy-dusted rainbow vegan chocolate truffles to caramelized onion Sriracha potato kugel.
Kritzer said that she “loved that y’all brought cool local brands [On Rye, One Eight Distillery] together to create one unique get-together! Definitely not your Bubbe’s event. And that’s not the bourbon egg cream talking either! The DC Jewish community was so welcoming, and it was wonderful meeting people who have been following What Jew Wanna Eat for years.”
Kritzer was on hand to sign books and, indeed, schmooze. But more than that, her recipes were on display, crafted with love by DC’s own Ilyse Fishman Lerner, owner of the newly opened On Rye restaurant. Guests tasted gorgeously pink beet-pickled eggs, potato knishes with spicy mustard and other savory small bites, as well as decadent desserts, including our favorite, the Drunken Honey Pomegranate Cake. Paired with the food were two bespoke cocktails, including the abovementioned effervescent adult egg cream (with bourbon, naturally).
Other important elements of the Jewish community were involved, too. The talented team at Javazen kept guests caffeinated to buzz around the distillery, where old barrels served as tabletops. They were offering tastes of the new seasonal pumpkin spice brew, which included healing spices like cinnamon and turmeric.
On hand to encourage guests to be mindful of where their food goes was The Compost Crew, whose founders spread the word about the importance and efficacy of composting. While guests enjoyed an incredible spread, they also got a glimpse of understanding food waste.
In the end, more than 100 guests enjoyed the craft cocktails, the community spirit, the superb noshes and each other’s company in celebration of all that the Jewish Food Experience® has been working on since its foundation.
Want to continue celebrating? Light up your Chanukah at Latke-Palooza on December 19 at Commissary. It’s JFE®’s annual Chanukah celebration, complete with a bottomless latke and sufganiyot bar, as well as themed cocktails at the bar. And it always sells out. So if you missed Kritzer’s bites, these dishes of fried goodness will certainly keep the party hot.
All photos by Linda Wolpert.