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Potatoes perfect for Thanksgivukkah meal

  • Yukon gold and purple potato latkes prepared by chef Daniel Kedan at Backyard restaurant in Forestville. (ALVIN JORNADA / The Press Democrat)

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah begins Wednesday, but the first full day coincides with Thanksgiving, a rare convergence that hasn't happened since 1888.

Whether you're making latkes (potato pancakes) or mashed potatoes on “Thanksgivukkah,” as it has come to be known, it's a perfect time to cook and enjoy the new crop of locally grown potatoes.

“We're in the thick of potato season, and there are so many different potatoes,” said Dan Kedan, chef and owner of Backyard restaurant in Forestville, who will host a special Hanukkah dinner there on Dec. 4.

Hanukkah Latkes At Backyard Restaurant

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With the help of Josh Silvers of Jackson's Bar & Oven in Santa Rosa, Kedan will pay tribute to the eight-day festival of lights with a four-course menu of traditional Hanukkah food like latkes and applesauce, plus perennial favorites such as matzo ball soup and brisket.

At Backyard, Kedan and his wife, Marianna Gardenhire, source sustainable ingredients from local orchards, farms, ranchers and fishermen. Their California cuisine recently snagged them a Bib Gourmand award from Michelin, which grants the honor to restaurants that offer two good dishes and a glass of wine for $40 or less.

For the Hanukkah dinner, Kedan will serve three kinds of potato latkes — made from Yukon gold, Purple Majesty and russet potatoes — that he sources from local farms such as First Light of Valley Ford and Armstrong Valley of Guerneville.

Since Hanukkah commemorates the story of an oil-based miracle, the foods most closely connected with the holiday, such as latkes, are typically fried in oil.

The Hanukkah miracle, according to legend, was two-fold. About 2,100 years ago, a small, outnumbered Jewish army expelled the Greek occupiers from the Holy Land. There was only enough oil to light the temple's menorah for one day, but somehow the light lasted for eight days and nights.

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