New York – It was billed as a unique dinner, highlighting infrequently eaten kosher foods, but what began as a juxtaposition between halacha and exotic cuisine turned into a major stomach ache for some diners.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene confirmed that they are looking into complaints regarding the self described Halakhic Dinner which took place on May 5th at Manhattan’s Congregation Shearith Israel, also known as the Spanish Portuguese Synagogue, and was led by Rabbi Meir Soloveichik.
“We’re currently investigating and working with the synagogue,” Christopher Miller, press secretary for the Department of Health, told VIN News.
Dani Klein, whose website YeahThatsKosher.com features kosher restaurant recommendations and travel tips for the Jewish community, was one of those who attended the dinner. While Klein did not get sick, his wife Arielle tested positive for campylobacter, a bacteria associated with raw or uncooked poultry, unpasteurized dairy products or contaminated water, poultry or produce.
Klein estimated that approximately 20 people contacted him complaining of gastrointestinal distress after the dinner.
Rabbi Soloveichik did not return several requests for comments from VIN News.
The menu for the evening, which contained sources from the Chumash and Gemara regarding the kashrus of each item, consisted of a mixed greens salad topped with an esrog dressing, crispy shallot topped veal intestines stuffed with veal heart, chicken gizzards, duck liver and kidneys, truffle oil drizzled, poached brains with garbanzo beans, white pickled garlic and lemon, Moroccan cigars stuffed with duck foie gras, goat tagine with dates, dried plums, cracked Syrian olives and fava beans, braised squab with poached fennel mousseline, roasted shallots, braised artichoke hearts and fresh truffles, bison sliders with glazed onions and Israeli cracked olive paste and slow cooked ox tail with green peas and sherry wine mousseline.
Dessert included both a dulce de leche cake in a chocolate caramel box as well as one what was undoubtedly the most exotic item of the night: Mexican chipotle chocolate covered locusts.
“The locust itself kind of tasted like gribenes and the texture was soft and wafery, not crunchy,” noted Klein. “It was very small, maybe a half or a third the width of my finger.”
About 225 people came to the dinner, which Klein found the to be an interesting and enlightening experience.
“Rabbi Soloveichik had a screen showcasing everything that we were learning, almost like a shiur, but in a fun, good way,” said Klein. “It got people interested and excited.