“It turns out that our ancestors knew what they were doing,” said Jeffrey Yoskowitz, an owner of Gefilteria, a company that makes unorthodox versions of gefilte fish and is branching out into slow-brined pickles and strudel. “The recipes and techniques are almost gone, and we have to capture the knowledge before it’s lost.”
"...the Gefilteria is on to something. The salmon gefilte layer added subtle and welcome variety to the whitefish mix, and a slice of the Gefilteria’s loaf looked exceptionally appetizing when topped with their vibrant orange and magenta horseradishes...and their beet kvass is one of the most satisfying drinks I can recall."
This gefilte, bursting with glorious aromatics, looks and tastes nothing like the jarred variety. I bought a loaf for Natalie and while it may have not been her mother’s beloved recipe, the grin on her 97-year-old face as she took a bite said it all.
The startup’s artisanal gefilte is likely closer to the original gefilte fish, which was made with the freshest possible ingredients. “Jews who didn’t have constant access to fresh fish would keep carp in their bathtubs,” says Yoskowitz. “This food that somehow, at some point, got stuffed into a jar was really valued and cherished...."
"Kvass's Second Coming" - The Gefilteria's ginger-laced drink has made a splash at their stands at the Brooklyn Flea and the Hester Street Market, and some Brooklyn bartenders have begun sniffing around kvass as a cocktail ingredient, spurred by a delicious concoction the Gefilteria group makes for events and pop-up parties.
"As for the other people ordering from Gefilteria, they were practically having a religious experience. A woman named Hillary McGrath took one bite of the gefilte crostini and seemingly went into a trance. I’ve never seen fish affect someone like that."
"Pair the savory with the sweet, and put complementary foods side by side. And you have to try the Kvass from The Gefilteria,” she adds. Kvass is a palette-cleansing fermented tonic made from ginger and beets that’s fondly referred to as a Jewish kombucha. 'I mean that,' Hastreiter says, 'is the stuff.'"
The gefilte fish was light, moist and flavorful, but not overly fishy. The horseradish was fiery, with crunchy raw carrots, and the pickles were just briny enough. It was a simple meal, one meant to be enjoyed with a bite of this and a bite of that — an Ashkenazi alternative to a platter of cheese and cured meat. As we ate, I imagined my distant relatives eating the same thing at a summertime picnic in Latvia, 200 years ago.