Tuesday night, Scharf & Zoyer, the food vendor I’ve been cooking for at the weekly Smorgasburg in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, held its first-ever pop-up at Brooklyn Oenology‘s tasting room. About thirty or so folks gathered to nosh on Noah Arenstein’s takes on classic Jewish flavors re-invented in sandwich form while imbibing from BOE’s wine and beer list. From the cleared off serving trays, raised glasses, and general good cheer, it seems as though the evening was a fantastic success.
On the menu were some of the items for which S&Z has become known in the press and at the market. We had half-size pieces of our Savory Kugel, with a green bean-spinach-walnut pesto, dill crème fraîche, and topped with fried chicken skins. Creamy, tangy, crunchy. This bite hit every savory, salty note, and it has been a huge hit with many of our fans.
For dessert, we served up our most popular item – the Sweet Kugel. It’s the same noodle kugel that is used in the savory dish, one based on Noah’s grandmother’s recipe (several cousins were on hand to verify the authenticity of the taste). After the kugel is fried golden brown on both sides, it’s topped with maple-farmer’s cheese, apricot-orange preserves, and topped with crispy shallots. There’s a bit of creaminess and sweetness contrasted with a hit of savory and crunchiness given by the shallots to balance it out.
We also served a few other items not usually on the Smorgasburg rotation. One of these was the Gefilte Fish slider above. Noah’s family serves these meatball-style patties rolled in breading, fried and then allowed to get cold, rather than in the usual liquid base. As someone who did not grow up with this dish, it’s taken a bit of converting, if you will, to win me over to them. A dash of horseradish-mustard mayo and a dollop of carrot slaw anchor the slider firmly on a soft, squish potato bun. The first time I had a taste of it, I was surprised at how well the flavors all melded together. We had these on the last weekend that we did the market and they sold all right, although we did meet with some skeptics.
Another slider we prepared exclusively for this event featured Sweet-n-Sour Meatballs served on Potato Rolls with a sliver of Provolone cheese and a side of Mushroom Ketchup. They were a bit messy to handle, which might be something we work on for the next time we hold a pop-up, but they were devoured by the guests and met with rave reviews from a few of them. Having snacked on several of these during our prep sessions, so I wasn’t at all surprised, as I knew how delicious they were.
No exploration of Jewish cuisine would be complete without latkes. For the pop-up, we used them to showcase our Ajlouk, a savory, spicy spread with a harissa base that we usually served made-to-order with an omelet-style egg and farmer’s cheese on toasted marble rye bread. In this incarnation, the latke served as the “bread” with a schmear of the cheese and a heaping spoonful of the Ajlouk, this time made with eggplant instead of our usual zucchini version. Cool, hearty, crunchy all in one bite.
The other dessert we served was Mandelbrodt. I have to brag a little bit about this one, as I’d never baked these before and took my instructions from a recipe that Noah had emailed me that was his grandmother’s. These cookies are similar to Italian biscotti in that they are cooked twice and allowed to get dry and crispy. Noah gave me a thumb’s up after we took them out of the oven after the second baking cycle, telling me that I’d nailed the recipe. Whew! He packed up the extras from the party to enjoy at home.
We had several other offerings on the menu as well, including Pimento Cheese, Chopped Chicken Livers, and Tuna Salad, all served to get the evening started. To close out the night and to toast how well our first pop-up event went, Noah, Emily Hanhan (aka Nomnivorous, a mutual friend who offered to help us out for the evening), and I slugged down a pickleback from BOE’s drinks menu. It was delicious and refreshing, and it completely hit the spot after all the prep and hard work that we put into making the night happen.
Unfortunately, despite the success of this event, there is also some sad news to share. Scharf & Zoyer will be taking a haitus from the weekly Smorgasburg market. Serious Eats has been covering Noah’s progress and the development of the business this season. Having had a front row seat as we’ve worked hard to make his concept a reality, it is disappointing that we might not be back. There’s so many terrific food vendors in the market whom we’ve gotten to know each week. For the complete interview and Noah’s thoughts, click here to read the article. Thanks so much to everyone who has supported us at the market and who came to our event on Tuesday night!