Zakon Wines Perfect for Passover



I would like to share more items for Passover. Here is the background on Zalon Wines for Pesach which include a Petite Syrah that is spice, crisp and floral. These are not the ultra sweet wines from your Bubie and Zeyda’s seders.

Zakon Wines Perfect for Passover

The Maharal compares wine to music, just like Neginah, a song writer’s shoresh haneshama goes into his nigun, a wine maker’s puts his shoresh haneshama into his wine. 

Yossi Zakon is the prime example of a wine maker whose whole soul is put into his wines.  He is one of the oldest orthodox winemakers of today’s modern wine-making world, yet his enthusiasm and youthful focus is glowing today as it was when he made his first homemade wines in 1978. 

Yossi was taught that wine is a drink of prestige and aristocracy, so important that it is given its own bracha.  This weighed heavily on Zakon’s shoulders, with him often wondering how could something as noble as wine be relegated to the syrupy sweet offerings the kosher wine world was associated with.  This was Zakon’s “Aha” moment, when he realized, it didn’t have to be, “I began researching the history of kosher wine and found that there wasn’t much interest in winemaking amongst Jews.  Not many people were aware of what it takes to produce traditional wine.”  Zakon paused and clarified, “and by traditional I mean traditional in the greater wine world, not in the kosher wine world.”  Zakon added, “I was determined to produce a kosher wine that met the standards and quality of wine the way it was meant to be and described in the holy Torah.”

In 1981, Yossi Zakon opened his winery, Joseph Zakon Winery, becoming the youngest person to own a winery bonded and licensed by both New York and by the Federal Government.   “It wasn’t an easy start.” noted Zakon. “Our first wine was an award winning dry Chardonnay; however at that time the kosher consumer’s palette wasn’t accustomed to drinking dry wines, so I sold to mostly non-kosher consumers and restaurants.”  While Zakon was pleased with his wine, he felt as if he let down his community, and dug deeper into what the kosher consumer wanted.  

Zakon talked with anyone who would listen about what they were looking for in a wine, and soon came up with the idea for a lighter, easy-to-drink wine. He started working on the wine featuring concord grapes grown in the Finger Lakes region of New York State and developed a delicious, naturally sweet low alcohol wine. By using grapes from designated vineyards from the finger lake region, Zakon was able to ensure that sugar and water would not need to be added to the wine like other brands were doing at the time. It was a huge success and the Kesser line of low- alcohol, wines were born.

With the success of the Kesser line, Zakon focused his attention on a new project, developing a lower alcohol dry wine for Passover which he felt was paramount for many consumers who wanted to drink the four cups and fulfill the requirements according to all rabbinical authorities with the highest standards possible.  People liked the lower alcohol Kesser wines, and to his delight, he noticed the taste profiles in the kosher community were changing – people were becoming more familiar with and appreciating less sweet wines! Extremely enthusiastic, Zakon set out to produce a dry lower alcohol wine with the Passover Seder in mind.  He began with a blend from the finest French hybrid grapes available grown exclusively for him in the finger lakes region of New York State.  After crushing, the grapes are put through a unique cold fermentation process which helps retain the distinct nuances and fruity characteristics of the french hybrid grapes and the fermentation is halted at exactly 7%. less then 7% alcohol is not considered wine by the federal government. The new wine was a hit and “Kesser- Eminent Passover wine” has been available ever since.

At this point Zakon had a successful and flourishing brand, but he yearned for more.  He saw there was a revival in the Jewish community for European style wines and returned to his original inspiration, a premium kosher wine on par with any wine available, kosher or not.  His travels brought him to California where he created three new wines under the brand, Joseph Zakon.  The first, a white Muscatini with no carbonation that tastes as if the muscat grapes were just picked off the vine.  The second, the first ever available Red Muscatini which he developed by blending the Muscat grape with the unique flavors of the Black Muscat grape to create a delicious wine bursting with the flavors of berries and  fruity aromas. The third wine in the portfolio is a Petit Syrah a A crisp, semi-dry red wine with a a spicy, floral aroma that wine connoisseurs are appreciating. 

Rounding out Zakon’s wines are a line of wines made with value in mind while not compromising on the high standards of kashrus Zakon’s wines are synonymous with. With this customer in mind, he created the “Farbrengen” label which translates in English to “Joyous Gathering” which Zakon says with a big smile, “at the end of the day is what wine is meant to do, bring people together to enjoy good wine and each other’s company.”  

It’s been a long road traveled, but Zakon wouldn’t have it any other way noting, “Zakon wines are a true extension of nature and they should taste as nature intended.  Wine barrels and other type of vessels are a place to store the wonderful wines. Aging is a continuous natural process that allows the wines to develop the fruity flavors into a complex integral delight one can enjoy with many foods. 

I have always preferred a non-interventionist approach to wine-making. The style that is more common among European and smaller lot producers domestically and abroad focuses on letting the wines become what they are meant to become while at the same time recognizing that changes in approach are necessary, vintage to vintage and varietal to varietal.” Zakon added, “I get to do what I love every day.  I’m truly blessed to be a part of countless Shabbat dinners around the world through my wines.” 

I would like to thank Jay Buchsbaum for this wonderful and educational article on Zakon wines.

A Gluten Free Passover

Gluten Free Matzo

Gluten Free Matzo

The good people at Kedem have asked me to publish this press release to help point out that Passover is the happiest time of the year for people living a Gluten Free lifestyle:

In the gluten free world, the Jewish holiday of Passover has become a treasure trove for consumers looking for new (and seasonally available favorite) gluten free items. Kedem Food Products, the leading all kosher food manufacturer perhaps most widely known for their grape juice (fun fact, Kedem Grape Juice is the 2nd best selling grape juice in the United States and is made in a certified gluten free facility) has not let this annual occurrence go  unnoticed and 5 years ago began introducing products specifically labeled as certified gluten free.  

 “It started with Yehuda Gluten Free Matzo Style Squares, and grew from there” noted Vice President of Sales Harold Weiss.  “The following year we introduced Chef Jeff Nathan Gluten Free Panko Flakes as well as additional varieties of the Gluten Free Matzo Style Squares including one with added fiber.  Fast forward five years, and we have a complete offering of gluten free items under various brands including cereals, candies, cake mixes and ingredients all certified GF and many now available year round.”  Mr. Weiss added, “We haven’t been the only ones to notice this phenomenon either, Whole Foods, has put together the largest Passover program in their history including a large amount of these gluten free items.”

This year, Kedem Foods is excited to introduce a number of new certified gluten free items including Yehuda Gluten Free Chocolate Covered Crackers,  Yehuda Gluten Free Soup Crackers, Crispy-Os Gluten Free Cereal, Kedem Tilapia Gefilte Fish (exclusively available at Whole Foods) and Shefa Sweet Goodies.

For a complete listing of all our gluten free items, please visit and check the “gluten free” tab under products.  Please note, while many of our items happen to be gluten free, only items bearing the “Certified GF” logo on the package are certified to be gluten free.

New Gluten Free Items for 2014

Crispy-O’s Gluten Free Frosted Cereal – This delicious all natural cereal is light and crispy with a touch of sweetness.  A great addition to any breakfast table, also a great for snacking! (Certified GF, Imported from Israel)

Yehuda Gluten Free Chocolate Covered Crackers – The perfect harmony of salty, sweet and crunchy.  We start with our delicious gluten free crackers and cover them in chocolate for delectable flavor combination  (All Natural, Imported from Israel, Certified Gluten Free)

Yehuda Gluten Free Soup Crackers –These tiny soup crackers pack a big crunch.  Perfect for adding to soup or the perfect addition to a salad! (All Natural, Imported from Israel, Certified Gluten Free)

Shefa Sweet Goodies – Whether you’re a kid or kid at heart, this delightfully sweet chocolate with a crunchy center will bring a smile to your face.  Available in  Milk Chocolate, Bittersweet Chocolate, White Chocolate, Milk/White Chocolate (Cholov Yisroel, Imported from Israel, Certified Gluten Free)

About Kedem Food Products 

Created to provide the highest quality kosher foods to a rapidly growing market. Kedem Food Products (KFP) has successfully revolutionized today’s contemporary kosher food and culinary lifestyle. Please direct all press inquiries to Shimon Weinberg at

Food and Fond Memories hopes you have a very Sweet Passover!

A Taste of Pesach


Pulled Brisket

Sweet Potato Crisps Salad

Sweet Potato Crisps Salad

I know it is hard to believe but Passover is just around the corner. The first seder is on Monday, April 14 at sundown. And you know how it is said that “timing is everything”? Well in the case of this fabulous new cookbook that could not be more true. A Taste of Pesach - Trusted Favorites. Simple Preparation. Magnificent Results. was published earlier this month and I was lucky enough to receive a copy to review hot off the press. This timely book is from the same publisher as the wildly popular Kosher by Design series. I was immediately drawn in by the gorgeous embossed dust cover with a photo of food that seemed to just jump off the page. I was compelled to start reading it right away!

Each and every recipe is easy to prepare and accompanied by a full color photo that makes you want to eat the page. The book project began six years ago when a group of women joined forces to brainstorm fundraising ideas for Yeshiva Me’on HaTorah, a Jewish high school. The result of this meeting was A Taste of Pesach, a recipe pamphlet series that transformed Passover cooking for tens of thousands of cooks. Since the mailing of the first pamphlet years ago, the devoted followers of A Taste of Pesach have sent countless letters expressing their appreciation for the beautiful pamphlets and the recipes within them. Finally, at the urgent request of its loyal fans, the best of this popular series plus many brand-new recipes have been compiled into a beautiful book, A Taste of Pesach (ArtScroll/Shaar Press/March 2014; hardcover/$29.99).

The variety within this compilation of over 150 recipes is truly amazing. There are recipes for every taste and every course from elegant appetizers to kid friendly meals, traditional recipes to modern ones including amazing desserts; this book has it all. There are even recipes for Seared Tuna and Chocolate Molten Cake.  A Taste of Pesach has the recipe to fit every cook’s tastes and needs and make Passover cooking easier and more delicious than ever. In fact the recipes are so good and easy to make that I would use this book year round with just a few exchanges for the items that are used only at Pesach.

With so many recipes that are tried and true for Pesach and year round this stunning book would be a welcome addition to anyone’s cookbook library. With clear, concise triple tested recipes everyone can cook with confidence and present fabulous looking and delicious tasting Passover meals. To tempt your tastebuds I am including a couple of recipes, enjoy!

Sweet Potato Crisps Salad
Serves 8
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1 large sweet potato
3/4 cup oil for frying
1 (8-ounce) bag Romaine lettuce
1/2 red pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 yellow pepper, sliced into strips
1 (8-ounce) can hearts of palm, drained
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon imitation mustard
1. Prepare sweet potato crisps: Peel sweet potato. Using a vegetable peeler, continue to peel wide paper-thin strips of sweet potato.
2. Heat oil in a deep skillet. When oil is hot, add sweet potato strips a few at a time. When golden and crispy (about 5-7 minutes) remove with a slotted spoon. Can be made a few days in advance; store in an airtight container at room temperature.
3. Prepare the dressing: Place dressing ingredients in a small container. Shake to combine.
4. Assemble salad: Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with dressing. Place sweet potatoes on top right before serving.
Reprinted with permission from the copyright holders: ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications
Pulled Brisket
Serves 6
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1 (3-4 pound) second cut brisket
1 Tbsp prepared horseradish
1 Tbsp imitation mustard
½-1cup ketchup, to taste
1 cup water
2 tsp garlic, chopped
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup vinegar
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Combine remaining ingredients in a 4-quart saucepan and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Place brisket into a roasting pan; pour sauce over meat in pan. Cover and seal pan tightly. Bake for 15 minutes.
4. Reduce oven temperature to 200°F. Bake overnight or at least 6 hours. Remove pan from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Wearing disposable gloves if desired, remove fat from meat and discard.
5. Use two forks to shred the meat. Rewarm in sauce.
6. For a great variation of this recipe, make crepes (Perfect Pesach Lukshen, page 54) and fill with pulled brisket.
Recipes from A Taste of Pesach
Reprinted with permission from the copyright holders: ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications
Disclaimer: This book was sent to me free of charge to review however the opinions are 100% my own.