New York – Several Reportedly Ill After “Halakhic” Dinner Serving Kosher Locusts, Veal Hearts, Ox Tail And Goat


     'Butter' poached brains w/chickpeas, white pickled garlic & lemon & truffle oil (Photo: )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 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.
    Dinner menu (Photo: )
    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.

    People were asking how we could eat certain things because they are not typically kosher and we learned about the Torah origins of each food, its relevance and how it is kosher.”
    Slow cooked Ox-Tail in a sherry wine mousseline. (Photo:
    Mexican Chipotle Chocolate covered Locusts (Photo: )
    Veal heart, chicken gizzards, duck liver, and kidneys, + quail egg. Boiled, poached, on top of crispy flatbread w/basil, tomato, and pepper. (Photo: )

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      • I once swallowed a whole fly and was sickened for 12 long days, these so called frums are off they’re rockets, please raboisay stick with gefiltoo fish.

      • Reb Moshe and his talmidim do not eat ‘white’ veal (slightly anemic). They always ate red veal – those that romped the field and developed muscles..

        As for locust – Most Rishonim hold that the ‘blood’ is muttar even in non-kosher species See Yoreh Deah Siman 85. The original source if from a mishna.

        Next time – enjoy the bug juice

    1. Lost ,Rav Moishe z’tl “suggested ” avoiding veal. I saw recently that the old processes of raising veal are changing for the better and His son in law Rav Tendler is considering reversing that psak.

      • This adventurous dinner was organized by the Synagogue’s new Ashkenazic Rabbi and was mostly attended by his devoted followers. I am a long-time member of the Spanish and Portuguese synagogue, and none of my friends attended this dinner or would be interested in attending it.

    2. If these food were more delicious than regular, I would understand. But I doubt it is more tasty than a rack of ribs or rib stake, cheese calazone, cheese cake, spicy fries, Hungarian goulash, hot deli sandwich on a club with onions tomato and lettuce, sushi, a fresh thick white meat fried fish, schwarma, chicken liver with onions, etc, etc.

      Bottom line, don’t torture yourself when the regular food is readily available and so much tastier.

    3. To the insular and parochial yidden whose idea of fine dining is chulent with parsley garnish and tzimmes with a lemon wedge, welcome to the new culinary millennium. This is not the alte heim and the food shown in these pictures in increasingly the norm for yidden with refined palates who enjoy the better things in life that the Ebeshter has provided for our pleasure. Your grandparents ate potatoes and maybe a boiled chicken every other Shabbos because the had to, not because they wanted to.

      • No, if it is becoming the norm, it’s only for pretentious shm–s, not Jews with refined palates. They couldn’t make me eat almost anything listed in the article under general anesthesia.

        But I don’t hold a grudge against you. I understand that you have a serious problem: your wife is a lousy cook, can’t make a decent cholent. You should have made your wishes known to her early in the marriage. Now, after you held back for awhile, if you bring it up now, it is likely to hurt her feelings. It’s indeed a problem, but it’s a solvable one.

      • “Refined palates” and pursuing exotic foods is pretty far from the mussar view of eating. Maybe if you wanted it for shabbos you’d have an excuse. But what you describe, mussar classifies as gashmius and gluttony. This is not what the Ebishter wants.

        • The party was done to teach people about a range of kashrus. Is it being a mentsch to look down on others? Aren’t we supposed to be dan l’chaf zechus? May the participants have a refuah shlaima.

    4. Never have I wanted to comment on VIN as in this case, the comments here echo the comments on VIN regarding kosher Elk availability.

      #8 you clearly do not know cousine.

      My mother’s father was a cohen, clearly I have no mesorah of eating cholent or gefilte fish…

      Just because the farm factory industry churns out chicken and cow its not A) healthy B) good tasting.

      Bisson is leuges ahead of cow in health factors with double the protein, half the fat and cholesteral as well as a amazing source of B vitamines etc etc its how the native americans thrived

      Chumros are piled and plied upon the masses and people!! EVERY day the Rabbi’s and askanim are screaming that this and that is assur!

      And our mesorah? and what the Torah tells us?!? “NAW WHO CARES?!? Whats wrong with good ‘ol chicken?”

      There are hashgachos and poskim that tell you to refrain from nikur, I watched Rabbi Jonathan Gabbay in Maon expertly do Nikur on a lamb he shechted for us, he pointed out “this is the gid, the chelev etc”

      But worse yet is that people who will happily pile their kids with minhagim, chumros, halachos are themselfs a lost generation of mesorah.

    5. Wonderfull out of the box idea! Can someone explain about locusts? Thanks. And fyi anuthing that tastes like griven could give diarrea if you normally refrsin from fried stuff. it happens to me. Body is not used to fried stuff for a while so griven or other oily stuff will hurt me more than others. (can be reversed by slowly getting used to oily again). Obviously theres bacteria here involved as well so issue not only oiliness.

    6. According to Rabbi Meir Soloveichick, the leading rabbi on the halachic advisory board that gave the approval of the menu was Rav Yisroel Belsky, who together with the other rabbis personally tasted each of the dishes and deserts prior to the event and gave it a thumbs up for both taste and kashruth. Glad to say, I haven’t heard any reports saying that any of those rabbonim got sick from the food.

    7. Dear #20,
      When I was young I thought I was so smart and blew my mouth.. my father told me that one should think before he speaks.

      Oh, the issue is that I am too much of a man to hide behind a name other than my own.

      I cannot verify the truth of the event and im not going to speak half truths at the expense of slandering others so i’ll tell you what I know and is confirmed

      Silver leaf caterer was brought in initially, they created a great menu included was:

      Blue marlin, other salads.

      Hind Leg of White-tail Deer Roast
      Blackberry wine reduction, celeriac, & parsnip puree

      Elk Wellington
      Boneless loin & wild mushroom duxelle wrapped in French pastry, pinot noir demi glaze

      Peppercorn Encrusted Bison Ribs
      Chive gold potato cake, roasted shallots, light mustard wine reduction

      Goose Liver Pâté
      Served on a brioche crouton with baby arugula & currant glaze

      Braised Squab
      Poached pears, candied baby beets, & cognac sauce

      Goat Tagine
      Dates, apricots, root vegetables, couscous, toasted almonds & caramelized Vidalia onions

      According to the shull, silver leaf could not get the hashgacha ok as it was a sefardic based event but ashkenazi hechsher would not ok

    8. So, a few weeks before the event, the cater was switched and apparently with them a new menu.

      Whose to blame for the sickness ? I leave that to the health dept.

      But ive got news for you, bisson are much much healthier animal than you beloved cow

    9. Reply #30 and #32

      #30 I was not commenting on the event but on the philosophy / idea presented by #10. you clearly have no idea what dan l’caf zcus means, there is no reason to be openly accepting of everyones philosophy and practices, thats liberalism, not yiddishkeit.

      Pursuing ever and better “refined foods” is gashmius. Have you ever seen a gadol waiting on line at an ice cream store? I’ve known gedolim. They train themselves to be content in plain foods. Because they understand that the pursuit of gashmius (even kosher gashmius) is detrimental to the soul.

      I highly doubt that any litvish posek tasted locust. The odds of your comment being factual is pretty remote.

    10. Disappointing so many are running to experiment with expensive (and disgusting) “gourmet” menus when so many of our Yiddishe neighbors kids don’t have enough on their tables. Feh.

    11. Except for the locusts, the menu sounds great to me. I do wish I could get all of the ingredients (I can find the oxtail and enjoy making it several ways, but have never seen kosher tripe). For those of you who enjoy eating the same food as in the old country, that’s great. As for me, no one in my family is ever going back to Eastern Europe or to the 13th century, so I am quite happy not eternally following a bunch of mesoras and chumros that make absolutely no sense in 2015 California. Just don’t tell me that yours is the only way of following the Torah because those mesoras and chumros are NOT in the Torah and eating locusts is.

    12. The locusts aside, the problem that many people have with this meal is really not one of mesorah or chumra. It’s the fact many people today, especially young ones, no longer know what real food is or where it really comes from. They think that meat, poultry and fish arise magically in nature on a styrofoam tray covered in plastic wrap and appear mystically, somehow, in the store. The majority of this menu was really nothing extraordinary, not even for frum Jews only a generation or two ago. For those of you posting that we should eat what our forebears ate,… most of this, believe it or not, is what they ate when they could get it. My mother and grandmother, both of Blessed Memory, cooked, ate and served to us many of these items, though perhaps without the fancy names and artistic preparation. Tell many people that they served stuffed intestine at this dinner and they respond “Eeew, digusting”. But, mention kishka to them and their eyes glaze over with the wonderful heimish memories of Bubbe’s cooking. I can assure you that Bubbe did not wrap her kishka in paper or aluminum foil. She stuffed an actual INTESTINE, just like the translation of the Yiddish word.

    13. Part 2

      Nobody ever threw out the liver from a chicken, duck, or goose. They were eaten with great delight. So, at this dinner they served chicken gizzards. Ick! Does nobody besides me remember the delicious pupick in the soup? Did nobody besides me have a grandmother that made gefilte helzel, a stuffed chicken neck?

      My mother would occasionally buy and and cook calves brains at home. Though not my particular favorite, she enjoyed them very much. And both she and my grandmother cooked a wonderful dish called ” Lungen Stew”. It was a mix of potatoes, carrots, onions and cut up pieces of beef lung, heart, spleen, and liver in a delicious thick and savory brown gravy. Mention that people now and many will feel faint. I can assure you that it was wonderful and I wish that I could eat it today. And oxtails,… no big deal. They used to sell them in GlattMart on Avenue M in Brooklyn. I could do on, but I think I’ve made the point. Oh,… by the way,… goat meat is delicious and also good in a healthful diet

    14. To all of you criticizing this dinner, please take a look at the picture of the “menu.” I wonder how many of you study Chumash, Gemara, and Shulchan Aruch at your meals.


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