Passover this year begins on the evening of Monday, April 10 with seder. That’s two weeks away, and whether you’re an Orthodox traditionalist seeking out shmurah matzo for your Passover plate, or looking for a delicious Kosher-but-not-fully-Kosher-for-Passover alternative, you’re in luck. There are better matzo options than the supermarket stuff out there for you.
Brought to the forefront by young Jewish chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi and Michael Solomonov, who wrote the wonderful cookbook Zahav, Jewish cuisine is thriving right now, from dishes like brisket and matzo ball soup that are Eastern European in origin, to the vegetable and spice-heavy cuisine of Israel. Last spring Dan Barber, chef and local food advocate, had a long essay in The New York Times about what goes into making shmurah matzo. Around the same time The Matzo Project released a tiny batch of their delicious matzo to three stores in Brooklyn and Manhattan. It sold out within hours.
New York has seen Mile End Deli, Black Seed Bagel, Frankel’s and Seed and Mill Halvah and Tahini flourish over the past few years. Since their trial run for last Passover, The Matzo Project has blossomed into a full-blown business that has matzo and matzo chips on the shelves of stores in nearly two dozen states, and available for sale online, in plain (yes, there’s salt), everything and cinnamon and sugar. “We have scaled up and we’re ready to take on the pita chip.” says Matzo Project co-founder Ashley Albert.
Staying Kosher, but not Kosher-for-Passover (which would exclude salt and other flavorings), The Matzo Project joins Vermatzah, a Vermont-based matzo company that refers to their product as “eco-kosher” in a market that seems to have been underserved, judging from the enthusiastic reception.
It’s not just that we’ve reached such a fever pitch with food that we’re fascinated by the minutiae of even an item that traditionally has been most remarkable for its blandness. Matzo has the ability to simultaneously function as a delicious cracker at your cocktail party and as a symbol of Jewish history and culinary heritage. Try to achieve that with a box of Triscuits. (more…)
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