Saturday, April 4, 2009

Where to Shop for Passover Seder: Hosting the family this year? Stock up at these Chicago kosher-friendly spots.

It's crunch-time. Passover is just days away, and you're anxiously waiting to play gracious host to the entire family. You've stocked up on matzo, you've memorized your bubbe's brisket recipe, you've busted out the good china and you've even gone through the trouble of shining each delicate piece. In your intoxicating cleaning frenzy, you realize you forgot a couple of key ingredients (not to mention that you already drank most of that wine you bought specifically for seder). Luckily, these nearby shops have plenty of Passover goods to save your tokhes.

Stock up on the wine at Hungarian Kosher Foods
You'll be hard-pressed to find a better selection of kosher wines anywhere in the nation. This 25,000 square-foot specialty market does, after all, stock the largest inventory of the stuff (bottles can also be purchased online at If you're strapped for time, Hungarian Kosher Foods also serves as a great one-stop shop with its abundance of kosher meats, fish, produce, pastries and candies. But let's get back to the wine; in honor of Passover, the shop is offering a huge sale on over 60 bottles (some even as low as $4.99) from a wide spectrum of regions including Israel, Chile, France, Spain, Hungary, Argentina, California, Australia and New York.

Grab a quick bite at Good Morgan Fish
This kosher fish market, located in Rogers Park, has been a staple in Chicago's Jewish community for more than 40 years (it wasn't always Good Morgan, but it was always about fish). The popular pick here is whitefish, which is offered in a variety of preparations including grilled, fried and fresh. You'll also find plenty of trout, chub, cod, salmon and snapper. Good Morgan also offers a selection of kosher soups, sandwiches and salads, so you can grab a quick bite during your Passover shopping spree.

Find the best brisket at Ebner's Kosher Meat Market
Also located in Rogers Park is Ebner's Kosher Meat Market. The place has been around since 1966, which may explain why most of the customers here are on a first-name basis with Ebner's staff. But don't let the old timers throw you off, newcomers are just as welcome and it won't take long for the jovial employees to warm up. In fact, buying meat from Ebner's may just be a guise for some quality socializing, though the product is just as good as its suppliers, so stock up before you get too carried away in conversation.

Don't skip out on the sweet stuff at Illinois Nut & Candy
If Hungarian Kosher Foods is the Midwest's Mecca for wine, then Illinois Nut & Candy is its kosher-candy counterpart. The shop offers over 45 different varieties of Passover candy samplers, including chocolates, mint bark, chocolate rum raisins, peppermint patties and ju ju fruits. If you're looking for something truly unique, check out the "perfect Passover plate" (a large round disc designed to look like a traditional Passover plate), made entirely of chocolate. The staff recommends using it as a sweet centerpiece, in which case, we recommend getting two (trust us, the temptation is enough to make you meshuge). Note: Illinois Nut & Candy will be closed April 8-18 in honor of the holiday, so get there soon.

Find a floral centerpiece at Angel Gardens Florist
If you'd rather play it safe and not be at risk of devouring your own centerpiece, we recommend a good old-fashioned floral arrangement. This place specializes in bouquets for just about every occasion you can possibly fathom, and Passover is right at the top of that list. Angel Gardens traditional arrangements include everything from a vibrant yellow Sunshine Express bouquet neatly displayed in a simple clear vase, to the more colorful (think pinks, lavenders and whites) Touch of Butterflies, thoughtfully bunched in a rustic wicker basket. Simple potted displays like the White Garden (which, incidentally, is mostly green) make for humble centerpieces, while more extravagant arrangements like the Incredible Iris (standing firmly in a clear tall vase) are sure to spark a reaction from your guests (though probably not as much as a chocolate plate would).

Take it easy with Fox & Obel's catering menu
Fox & Obel's Passover catering menu will be available from April 6-12 and includes traditional dinner choices like matzo ball soup ($8 per quart) and gefilte fish with fresh beet and horseradish puree ($28 per half-dozen). Desserts offer plenty of Passover-friendly sweets like flourless chocolate cake with bittersweet chocolate glaze ($20 serves 8-10) and chocolate-dipped strawberries ($18 per half-dozen). Complete Passover dinners ($200 for 6, $400 for 12) including matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, apple cider-braised beef brisket, whole rotisserie chicken, charoset, apple-walnut matzo kugel and steamed asparagus with lemon zest and pine nuts will also be available. Ritual seder plates (included in the complete dinner) with maror (grated fresh horseradish), chazeret (lettuce) charoset (made with honey, apples, walnuts, raisins and red wine), karpas (parsley), z'roa (roasted lamb shank bone) and beitzah (hardboiled egg) can be purchased a la carte for $12.


This article was first published on Centerstage.
Photo courtesy of Illinois Nut & Candy.

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