The Power Lunch: Kosher for Passover Version
Whether it’s the Longworth Cafeteria or BLT Steak, the power lunch continues during recess just as it does when Congress is in session. But for those for whom an in-session day requires more time in the office, recess periods can be better time for the power lunch of the white tablecloth variety.
But what happens when recess falls during Passover, eight days in which all bread products must be eschewed? We found one D.C. restaurant that may have a solution for this gap in the marketplace. This year, Fiola unveiled a five course Passover seder menu. The five-course menu is available for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, at lunch by request and a la carte.
But could a restaurant so dedicated to the beauty of bread and pasta possibly pull off a flour-less feast? Indeed it can, although the menu is a better fit for those who observe Passover kosher laws loosely.
It’s not a certified kosher kitchen, and the house-made matzah — while delicious — is unlikely to have been blessed by a rabbi (or overseen by someone who does kashrut inspections). However, the Passover menu does appear to abstain from the five foods characterized as “chametz” by the Torah: wheat, rye, barley, spelt and oats.
Fiola’s menu is inspired by the Italian Jews in the regions of Marche and Lazio, though the Italian Matzo ball soup with royal trumpet mushrooms (“Canederli in Brodo”) is so fantastic that it’s a wonder the Ashkenazi Jews of the United States have not adopted it for their own.
The starter salad is a fried artichoke combination (although admittedly, salads are fairly easy to accommodate in the kosher-for-Passover transformation). The main course options are a Spanish branzino or Shenandoah kosher rack of lamb, and dessert is strawberry sorbet with Tuscan almond Ricciarelli cookies.
Ricciarelli cookies are made from almond flour, eggs and sugar, and possess a softness rarely seen in Passover desserts. My dining companion, someone quite familiar in the world of Passover baked goods, declared the Ricciarelli to be “the best Passover cookie” he’s ever had.
Fiola will feature its Passover menu through Saturday night, though many American Jews will be back to breadbaskets by Friday. “The Torah text states when Passover begins, it should be observed for seven days,” says Rabbi Carrie Vogel of Kehillat Israel in Los Angeles. “But before we had the level of accuracy of our modern calendars, there was confusion over the first of the month and the way the Hebrew calendar is calculated. So for those living outside of Israel they added an eighth day of observance, just in case someone had counted wrong and started Passover on the wrong day.”
Whether it’s seven or eight days, there will be extra dining options for those keeping Passover this weekend or looking for a power lunch spot this week. Chag sameach and Buona Pesach!
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