On February 11, Hollywood’s W Hotel was packed for the 2015 Kosher Food and Wine Experience. The afternoon presentation was designed for trade buyers who visited so they could experience new wines for their restaurants and stores. From 6pm the pre-ticketed public were allowed to join the tasting experience. It was a sellout event, as predicted by David Whittemore, Director of Marketing for Herzog Wine cellars. “Now, in its eighth year, we anticipated a strong response. We believe the event offered the best selection of kosher food and wine in the world! The unique offerings come from Herzog’s vast portfolio as well as many other winemakers and quality wineries. In addition we included mouth-watering inspired dishes by the chefs who work at the hottest kosher restaurants in Los Angeles.”
Wines were available from the State of California, Washington and Oregon. There were 10 Israeli wineries offering a large selection of wines from many grape varieties. Other tastings were presented by New Zealand, Australia, France and Spain. There was even a pedigree Port from Portugal. The wines, champagnes and port that were presented were not for sale at the event, but online sales were pursued after the market.
Alongside the alcohol, there were sample dishes from a variety of Los Angeles restaurants and for the first time ever, the chef’s cooked all their recipes with premium grassfed beef. This made for a difference in taste and flavor while the dishes were healthier. Nir Weinblut, owner of La Gondola restaurant in Beverly Hills, said he would like to offer free range premium grassfed beef as an option because guests know that it is healthier. The Tierra Sur waiters and chefs were equally as enthusiastic, explaining that the essence of free range grassfed meat is that, “You have to cook it more slowly because it lacks the marbling or fat that regular American meat is known for. It’s not any more difficult to cook, but you must cook it slowly to retain the natural succulent juices.”
Grassfed beef is far more common in Europe than in the US. It is impossible that America could feed the population entirely with eco-friendly grassfed meat where each animal needs to have access to land the size of a football field, but new options are becoming increasingly available and popular. Ten years ago, it is estimated that just 50 grassfed cattle operations were active in the States, yet there are now thousands of producers and a strong import market. The premium grassfed beef at KFWE was provided by Tevya’s Ranch, a sponsor of the KFWE.
The American Grassfed Association defines grassfed products as those food products that come from animals that, “have eaten nothing but their mother’s milk and fresh grass or grass-type hay from birth to harvest – all their lives. They are also raised with no confinement and no antibiotics or hormones. Virtually any air-breathing food animal can be raised partially or entirely on grass.”
There are four advantages to eating meat from free ranging grassfed animals. Firstly it is a leaner product with a higher percentage of beneficial antioxidant vitamins and minerals and with a higher amount of Omega 3’s and CLA which are the good fats. Secondly, the animals that are raised on grass are living as G-d intended. The infiltration of grains in the diet of mass-produced beef creates an acidic digestive environment which increases the use of antibiotics. Grassfed animals are eco-friendly as the pastures used to feed them restores natural ecosystems and wildlife habitat while the soil is rejuvenated with organic matter and there is less need of petrochemicals and their by-products. Finally, small farms are the producers of grassfed animals and they provide rural communities with strong economies which creates sustainable businesses for entire families.
David Whittemore is now busy planning the location for the 2016 event. “We are looking at venues with more space as we will have a greater number of attendees and we’d like to include some of the newest award-winning kosher wineries in 2016.”