Friday, December 15, 2017     Volume: 18, Issue: 41

Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Edible Hanukkah event comes to Santa Ynez Valley


Chag Sameach!

That basically means “happy festival/joyous holiday,” depending on which strict translation script you like to stick to. In this case, the happy festival is Hanukkah or the Festival of Lights celebrating the time a small group of Jewish people held out in a battle against the Greeks for their right to observe their religion as they saw fit. Judah the Maccabee, who helped lead the resistance, retook the Holy Temple, but once reclaimed, the people inside found they only had enough oil to light the menorah for one day. Miraculously, it lasted for eight, and a holy tradition was born.

On Dec. 19, Chef Brooke Stockwell will host a Hanukkah themed eight-course dinner featuring a unique take on traditional Jewish dishes. “I think this event is important to our community because a lot of people are unfamiliar with Jewish foods, so we are providing an opportunity for them to experience some,” she said.

But this isn’t a religion column, it’s about food. So what does this sacred holiday (which runs from Dec. 12 through Dec. 19 this year) and local food have in common? A lot, thanks to a creative group of area chefs who want to put their own spin on the event.

Chef Drew Terp of Pico in Los Alamos and Chef Brooke Stockwell of K’Syrah Catering and Events are collaborating on the Eight Days: An Edible Hanukkah Celebration event. For her part, Stockwell said she was excited to participate in an event that allowed her to share her Jewish culture with people in the community.

“I’ve always loved having friends over to my grandma’s yearly Hanukkah dinner to share my love for latkes,” she said. “I think this event is important to our community because a lot of people are unfamiliar with Jewish foods, so we are providing an opportunity for them to experience some. And then for my fellow Jews, this is going to be a fun, foodie event that celebrates our traditions.”

I’m actually ridiculously excited about this event, for reasons that include seeing the Jewish religion celebrated in such a unique and festive way.

At Pico, Terp starts the night of the lighting of the first candle by releasing a new dish every day until the final day. Each day the menu progresses with the addition of the dishes from the previous day, eventually culminating in a full menu of traditional dishes with Terp’s own special spin.

For Hanukkah, Chef Brooke Stockwell of K’Syrah Catering and Events is planning to unveil a series of dishes inspired by traditional holiday meals such as brisket and latkes.

So what are those traditional Hanukkah foods, you might be wondering. Some of the most common dishes include potato pancakes (latkes in Hebrew or levivot in Yiddish), which are shredded potatoes formed into flat cakes, fried, and served with a little applesauce. Sufganiot are another Hanukkah delicacy enjoyed during the holiday. They’re jelly-stuffed doughnuts fried in oil, and they are ridiculously delicious.

One of the most important dishes to grace the table during Hanukkah is the brisket. The slow-roasted meat is also a popular staple during other holidays such as Rosh Hashanah. I’ve heard it referred to as the “holy grail” of Jewish food, and it’s never not lived up to that reputation. Most variations include a usual sear on all sides of the meat that is then slowly roasted in a liquid (some feature beer, French onion soup mix, and more).

All dinners in the first six days of Hanukkah will be held at Pico and can be reserved as regular table dinners. On the second-to-last night of Hanukkah, Dec. 18, K’Syrah will host a reception featuring eight Hanukkah-themed dishes in hors d’oeuvres style. The finale dinner on Dec. 19 will include an eight-course dinner with wine pairings, also at K’Syrah. That’s where the real mind-blowing work will come into play.

For the Dec. 19 eight-course Hanukkah event at K’Syrah Catering and Events, Chef Brooke Stockwell will feature an apple beignet, dulce de leche, sour cream ice milk, and more for her own spin on traditional fare served at Hanukkah meals.

“The dinner ... is going to be an epic showcase of kitchen talent sharing traditional Jewish foods with a modern, chef-driven twist,” Stockwell said.

There is a pretty incredible menu planned out for the dinner on Dec. 19 as it stands now. The first course will include the aforementioned potato latkes with smoked salmon, salmon chicharrónes, crème fraîche, and chive oil, which isn’t a combination I’ve ever thought of before. Second course is a roast beet salad, and third is a fritto misto with zucchini, squash, apple, fennel, and a sage brown butter emulsion.

The fourth course introduces the classic kugel, which is baked egg noodle casserole or pudding; the chefs’ version features kale, cipollini, gruyere, and challah breadcrumbs. Another latke hits the menu for the fifth course, this time with grilled quail, charoset, and pomegranate.

Of course there is braised brisket, this time served with fermented apple sauce, grilled root vegetables, smoked sunchoke cream, and crispy taro root. Because you can’t have Hanukkah without a good brisket.

Fritto Misto (zucchini, winter squash, apple, fennel, with sage brown butter emulsion) may not sound like a traditional holiday meal, but it fits right in alongside many traditional Jewish food items.



Happy Hanukkah

Eight Days: An Edible Hanukkah Celebration’s Dec. 19 Eight Course Menu with Wine Pairings costs $125 per person or $85 without wine pairings. To order tickets, visit

PICO at The Los Alamos General Store is located at 458 Bell St., Los Alamos, More info: (805) 344- 1122. or K’Syrah Catering and Events is located at 478 4th Place, Solvang. More info: (805) 245-9564 or

Arts and Lifestyle Writer Rebecca Rose will be celebrating Hanukkah at a spa in Palm Springs while she’s on vacation. Contact her




Naughty Oak Brewing Company releases limited edition beer "Bourbon 1904 No. 1."

• Dec. 16 marks the one year anniversary of Naughty Oak Brewing Company in Orcutt. In an email, owner Stephen Kitts said the brewery will release their first anniversary beer called Bourbon 1904 No. 1 (pictured), which is a roasted sweet stout aged in bourbon barrels. They will be selling bottles as well as offering tastings and cupcakes from Orcutt Bakery infused with the new beer. Bottle sales start at noon; only a few hundred bottles will be available. Naughty Oak is located at 165 S. Broadway St., suite 102, Orcutt.

• Oh hey! Bob’s Well Bread has a brand new head baker. He’s Scott Smith, a graduate of San Diego’s Century Cooking School. He’s worked with master bakers such as Charles Kaufman at Bread and Cie as well as San Francisco’s Chris Jurca with Acme Bakery. Welcome, Scott. Bob’s Well Bread is located at 550 Bell St., Los Alamos.

Weekly Poll
What do you think of the Republican tax plan?

I agree with Salud Carbajal, it's no good!
Love it, making the tax code great again!
It's not perfect, but we need tax reform.
Taxes are theft, I don't pay 'em!

| Poll Results