Knishes.

Posted on May 30th, 2012 by

A blog post by Program Manager Rachel Cylus.

Baked, flaky golden pockets filled with potato, broccoli, kasha, meat, or anything savory.   We couldn’t have a program entitled, “Knish History 101: The Life and Times of the Knish”, without a taste or two of this delectable pastry itself.  In the days leading up to the talk on May 20th, with knish enthusiast, Laura Silver, we figured it would be a lot of fun to have a knish tasting.  But where exactly would we find a suitable assortment of local knishes?

Finally, I received an insider tip in the form of a phone call from a loyal JMM patron.  “You have to call Sion’s Bakery!” she told me.  Sion’s knishes were apparently as big as baseballs, with a homemade dough and tasty potato filling.  They could feed eight people!

I was a bit nervous to call and ask for a donation, but before I knew it, I had donations of knishes from Sion’s Bakery, The Knish Ship, Hoffman’s Catering, Attman’s and a lady named Anita Baum, who had owned The Knish Shop for many years.  But the knishes would have to be picked up from each location – thus the Knish adventure came into being. 

Fortunately for me, a chance encounter with a colleague interning at the Smithsonian provided me with a willing and able co-adventurer.  Although Nadine was just visitingBaltimorefor the weekend and would not be able to attend the Knish program, she was eager to run all over town picking up knishes in return for a lift to the National Aquarium (almost as exciting a destination as the many Knish locations alongReisterstown Road). 

Sunday morning at the crack of dawn (more like 10:30am, but it felt early), I arrived inHuntValleyto pick up Nadine.  Then we headed toReisterstown Roadto begin our adventure.  First stop: The Knish Shop at508 Reisterstown Road.  It had the feeling of an old-fashioned deli counter with all sorts of salads and sandwiches in addition to the rows and rows of knishes in all sorts of flavors.  We were handed a heaping catering tray filled with thirty huge knishes. 

Then it was off to Sion’s Bakery.  Everything looked tasty and sugar-coated in Sion’s, which is mostly a traditional bakery filled with rainbow cake and chocolate tops (picked up half a pound for my dad to sample – he reported them to be quite good).  These knishes came in a bakery box.  If I hadn’t know better, I would have thought there was a cake inside! 

From there we hopped on the highway, as the next part of our adventure was a bit of a Knish Chase.  Hoffman’s Catering was more than willing to provide knishes, if we didn’t mind picking them up from one of their catering jobs… at the Belvedere Hotel.  Nadine and I sure weren’t dressed for the wedding we were about to nearly crash.  Fortunately we were whisked into the back kitchen and given another huge tray of knishes.  

From there I dropped off Nadine at the Aquarium and headed to Attman’s.  Fortunately Attman’s is just across from the JMM, so it was easy enough to walk right over from work.  Amid jars of pickles and metal meat slicers, I waited patiently for even more knishes. 

Thanks to the handy JMM toaster oven and the full-size oven over at B’nai Israel, we were able to slice and heat the knishes as Laura Silver amused and entertained our audience of 75 knish-lovers and took them from Baltimore to New York to Israel to Poland in a search to understand Knish heritage, and to hear from Anita Baum about her experiences as former owner of the Knish Shop. 

Once the talk was over, the audience descended upon a long table brimming with steaming knishes.  It was a feast!

 

 

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Crazy about Knishes

Posted on May 21st, 2012 by

A blog post by Development Coordinator Amy Smith

If there’s one thing’s for sure, Laura Silver is crazy about knishes.  And there’s a good reason for that.  On Sunday at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, Laura Silver told the story of her genealogical journey in which she traced her roots back to the Polish town of Knyszyn, where both her great aunt and her maternal grandmother where born.  One could even say that Laura’s passion for and connection with the knish is a birthright.

Welcome to Knish History 101: Audience members take their seats in anticipation for Laura Silver’s talk about the history of knishes.

But what exactly is a knish?  Knishes are essentially dumplings that can be round or square, and are filled with potato, ground meat, spinach, kasha, or really anything you can think of to stuff inside a pocket of dough.  There is not one particular type of dough that defines a knish, but in general, the audience members shared an intuitive sense that knishes are made from a pastry or filo dough rather than noodle dough like its boiled Polish cousin, the pierogi.  While there is some debate about what makes a knish a knish, when asked, Laura Silver poignantly answered that it is the spirit behind it that makes a knish a knish.

Some of the knishes we served at the program, courtesy of Attman’s Delicatessen.

Joining Laura for the question and answer session was Anita Baum, original owner of The Knish Shop in Pikesville.  Having grown up in a catering family, Ms. Baum also has a deep connection to the knish.  She prefers meat to potato knishes, and bakes hers from leftover brisket.  Ms. Baum always has knishes on hand – if there’s nothing else her granddaughter will eat, she can at least serve her a homemade knish!

Knish expert Laura Silver with Anita Baum, former owner of The Knish Shop in Pikesville.

Thanks to The Knish Shop for providing knishes for visitors to sample.

The knish discussion stirred up memories for me too.  Laura Silver had a slide of the Kosher Stand at Memorial Stadium (the old baseball stadium in Baltimore), where they served potato and meat knishes.  My family is originally from Long Island and even though I grew up in Delaware, my dad raised me to be a New York Mets fan.  As a child, my dad often took me to baseball games at Shea Stadium.  My distinguishing memory from these games involves eating square potato knishes with my dad, followed by a plastic baseball cap filled with Carvel with rainbow sprinkles for dessert.

Visitors eagerly sample knishes after a lively discussion with Laura Silver.

My mother in law tasting a knish.

At the end of the program, it was clear that Laura Silver had achieved her goal of getting the audience to join in the knish conversation.  We each had our own knish memories and stories to share, and had the opportunity to sample knishes from The Knish Shop, Sion’s Bakery, Hoffman & Co., Caterer of Distinction, and Attman’s Delicatessen.  If this post has left you hungry and inspired to make your own knishes, I suggest this recipe for Potato Knishes from the The Shiksha in the Kitchen.  Enjoy!

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Knish History 101

Posted on May 16th, 2012 by

Knish expert Laura Silver will lead a knish discussion and tasting at the Jewish Museum of Maryland on Sunday 20 May at 5 pm.

If you love knishes and want to learn more about the lovable hunk of dough, be sure to attend our upcoming Knish History 101: Life and Times of the Knish program on Sunday 20 May at 5 pm at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.  Featuring knish expert Laura Silver (http:///knish.me/), this program will involve a discussion and knish tasting from local knisheries (yes, knishery is a word).  To RSVP for the event, please contact Rachel Cylus at rcylus@jewishmuseummd.org or call 410-732-6400 x215.  Big thanks to Sion’s Bakery on Reisterstown Road, Hoffman & Co., Caterer of Distinction, and Knish Shop for providing knishes to sample.  If you can’t make it out to the JMM this Sunday but still want to join the knish conversation, you can view a live webcast of the program, thanks to Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance: http:///www.livestream.com/baltimoreculture.

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