Celebrating Tu B’Shevat with a Feast

For many Jews, the word “seder” applies only to Passover and Tu B’ Shevat is the holiday when we plant trees in Israel. However, when we live in the Great White North of Minnesota with snow on the ground and temperatures in the single digits, it sure is nice to celebrate nature and the changing of the seasons.

Beth El Synagogue was host to the 3rd Annual Tu B’Shevat Seder to Celebrate the Seven Species of Israel last week. And for the third straight year, the event was a sell-out and an overwhelming success.

For those who haven’t yet been or who haven’t read my previous post-event write-ups, the seder brings together four top area chefs to create dishes inspired by the seven species.The seven species (wheat, barley, grape, fig, pomegranate, olive, and date) are the seven types of fruits and grains mentioned in the Torah as the main produce of Israel. Each chef creates two dishes and each course is accompanied by a selected Kosher wine.  The math doesn’t add up, right? Seven species, four chefs, two courses. Well, that’s why honey is invited to the party. In the Torah, there is mention of honey, but most probably not the stuff created by bees. More than likely, it is palm date honey; It’s still sweet and sticky, but not something that comes in plastic bears. So honey becomes our eighth species.

Speaking of wine, we were joined by special guest sommelier Jay Buchsbaum, Director of Wine Education for Royal Wine Corp. Jay introduced wines from Israel, France, California and Chile.

Here’s a list of the incredible dishes celebrating Israel’s bounty:

Chef TJ Rawitzer of Third Bird

Wheat: Lake Superior Herring Roe with shallot, and dill on a wheat cracker.

Fig: Albacore tuna with Turkish fig, roasted banana, Marcona almond and served with a white wine reduction.

Dawn Drouillard of Fabulous Catering

Barley: Roasted Winter Root Vegetable Soup with popped barley, heirloom beans and finished with white wine.

Olive: Pan-seared chicken thighs with roasted Yukon gold potatoes, olives, fennel, rosemary, and citrus with a Moroccan olive and Satsuma Vinaigrette.

Date and banana pudding by chef Jack Riebel of the Lexington

Date and banana pudding by chef Jack Riebel of the Lexington

Phillip Becht of Vivo Kitchen

Grape: Rare seared beef with roasted grape salad and juniper vinaigrette.

Honey: Honey Fruit Tartlet

Jack Riebel of The Lexington

Pomegranate: Duck confit “varnishkes” with a red wine reduction.

Date: Date and banana pudding.

Rabbi Avi Olitzky continues to put together a truly immersive food and wine experience that rivals some of the best in the Twin Cities. Let’s see what he cooks up for Tu B’Shevat in 2017!