The annual Beyond Bubbie’s Kitchen event, produced by the Jewish Arts Collaborative, always attracts a who’s who of Boston chefs. Last year was my first year attending, and I was impressed by the creativity and diversity in the dishes. And this year, when I wasn’t posing in the photo booth or watching Keytar Bear rock out, I tasted the food, all of which revolved around a Sephardic theme. (Of course, I also took part in the wine, beer and cocktail options, many inspired by Sephardic cuisine.) It was tough to choose, but here are the five dishes I liked the most.
Sweet Potato Babaganoush Taco with Pomegranate Relish from Whole Heart Provisions
On its website, Whole Heart Provisions cites one of its goals as making vegetables “the star of the show.” Well, this dish was certainly the star of Beyond Bubbie’s Kitchen, and it even has the title to prove it: event-goers voted for their favorites in different categories, and this dish walked away with the honor of “Most Delicious.” With its silky-smooth, unique take on babaganoush, colorful, pomegranate seed-studded salad and crunchy lentils all wrapped up in a flour tortilla, this dish was quite a delight.
Mini Swordfish Meatball Sub on Challah Bun from La Morra
Seafood meatballs have a tendency to feel spongy and taste too fishy. These meatballs from La Morra avoided both of those pitfalls. They were light-textured and had a sweet, mild swordfish flavor that managed to stand up to the sweet tomato sauce and generous drizzle of lemon juice. Adding to their appeal was the most adorable two-bite challah bun that the meatballs were served on.
Fermented Banana Waffle with Rabbit Schnitzel from The Chubby Chickpea
A fun play on chicken and waffles, the crunchy, well-seasoned rabbit schnitzel and mildly fruity waffles were a study in contrasts. With a dollop of sour cream and a drizzle of rhubarb gastrique, this seemingly erratic combination from The Chubby Chickpea impressed and surprised me.
Harissa-Spiced Lamb Rugelach and Rose, Pistachio and Honey Rugelach from Mamaleh’s
As last year’s rugelach round-up proves, I already knew how good Mamaleh’s rugelach is. And with these creative combinations, their dominance in the category expanded beyond the traditional flavors. The dough was flaky and tender and the fillings were pronounced but not overwhelming. I went back for seconds.
Couscous Salad with Hawayej-Rubbed Chicken and Mint-Tofu Tzatziki from Juniper
The combination of couscous, chicken and tzatziki, while delicious, isn’t the most creative. But the team from Juniper combined these components in a way that felt fresh and unique. The couscous looked like small corn kernels, and they were surprisingly—and appealingly—chewy. The pulled chicken was juicy and full-flavored because of the hawayej, a Yemeni spice mixture that features cumin, black pepper, turmeric and cardamom. And the tzatziki was creamy and cooling, and sneakily vegan; if I didn’t know it contained tofu instead of yogurt or sour cream, I would have had no idea.
Did you attend? Which dish was your favorite?