November 7, 2007
Nosh on Jewish culinary tradition on Brookline tour
By Kerry Byrne
Julia Goldberg’s “Ahla” Jewish culinary tour of Brookline makes kosher cool – in any language.
“ ‘Ahla’ is Arabic slang for ‘cool,’ ” said Goldberg on a bright Sunday in October, as she led 12 tourgoers down Harvard Street, from one Brookline gastronomic landmark to another.Ahla is the perfect multicultural colloquialism to describe her journey to – and through – Brookline.
Goldberg was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia. She moved to Haifa, Israel, in 1991 before immigrating to Brookline in 2000. Enamored of the culinary and cultural heritage of her adopted hometown, she shares her passion during Sunday walking tours offered in Russian, Hebrew and English.
“I never really discovered the Jewish community back home,” said MikeNichols, a Jew from Texas who practiced his childhood Hebrew reading menus along the tour. “It’s a nice way to learn more about my heritage.”
There’s plenty to sample, from Israeli wines at Best Cellars to savory cheesecake at Rubin’s Kosher Restaurant Delicatessen, which Goldberg later on the tour reveals is made of tofu – not cheese.
Naturally, kosher rituals are part of the tour – but just a part. Kosher tradition dictates that you can’t eat dairy with meat. So Kupel’s Bakery mixes its bagel dough only with water so that kosher-keeping customers can pile on their favorite deli meat, Goldberg said while her group snacked on bagels outside. Kupel’s kitchen, meanwhile, is split into two areas, one for making bagels, the other for making cream cheese.
Brookline’s vibrant ethnic mix makes for intriguing kosher options rarely found in other parts of the world, said Goldberg, pointing to the kosher Korean at Ruth’s Kitchen, kosher Italian at Cafe Eilat and kosher Chinese at Taam China.
The town is as much a part of the tour as its dining spots. The seeds of Brookline’s Jewish community were planted in 1840 when 3,000German Jews arrived, including the families who would go on to found Filene’s and Stop & Shop.
Today, the area boasts the world’s 10th largest Jewish community, said Goldberg.
“I love Brookline more than any other place I’ve ever lived,” she said. And that’s, well, pretty “ahla.”
JULIA GOLDBERG’S AVOCADO HUMMUS
2 soft avocados2 hard-boiled eggs
1 t. saltDash of fresh lemon juice
2 t. onion, chopped (optional)
Put avocados, eggs, salt, lemon juice and onion in a medium-sized bowl. Mash together with a fork. Refrigerate. Spread on bread or bagels orserve as a dip.
Makes about 2 cups of hummus.