This week: Chanukah!
Happy holidays! It’s always a fun time when Christmas and Hanukkah collide. This week was spent lighting the menorah and munching on latkes, but there was still time for plenty of pop culture.
Sunday morning was the World Cup final, which honestly was super exciting. After weeks of Americans either bashing soccer or pretending that they’ve always been fans of the sport, Argentina and France delivered on an insane championship game that showed the globe that “football” can actually be *gasp* fun.
That night, I headed to the movie theater for one of my least anticipated cinematic experiences of the year — Avatar: The Way of Water. I’m not particularly a fan of the first film, and was not looking forward to the three hour runtime on this one. But a friend dragged me and I obliged. Reader, I actually didn’t mind it. Way of Water is an absolute feast for the eyes and the third act has some of the best action committed to screen in a long time. Do not doubt James Cameron. TV and City contributor Zack Greenberg’s review is a good read for some longer thoughts on this. You can check it out HERE.
On Monday night I was feeling festive and headed downtown to Maccabee Bar, a first-of-its-kind pop up Hanukkah bar. In the space of what usually houses Ollie’s, themed festival of lights drinks were being served amongst a lot of dreidel decor. On arrival, we ordered two drinks — a Hebrew Hammer and Whiskey Shamash. The Hammer was billed as a “sufganiyot sour” and was rimmed with the powdered sugar you’d find covering a traditional Chanukah jelly donut. The pink color of the drink inside the glass added to that funny visual. Admittedly though, the drinks at this point were average and nothing special taste-wise. For a second round, we split a Latke Sour and that’s what really made the night. A mix of apple brandy, potato, lemon, egg white, havana, and hyde bitters. It genuinely is the closest you’ll come to drinking a latke. The drink isn’t for everyone’s pallet but playing it risky with the menu really paid off.
Where else to go that night but all the way uptown (way, way uptown) to Golan Heights restaurant in Washington Heights for their special Chanukah menu in what has become a yearly tradition for my roommate and I. The delicacies only available for this eight day period include a brisket latke, which is a latke stuffed with brisket, and the maccabee sandwich, which is a sliced open donut with meat and coleslaw and other unnamed ingredients stacked skyhigh. For lack of a better descriptor, they taste so good.
On Tuesday I went back to the Maccabee Bar again with a different crew and tried some more of the special cocktails. The highlights were the Hot Bubbie, raisin-infused scotch, grand marnier, carrot honey, lemon, and cinnamon served hot, and the Sababa. As a drink that includes tahini and zhoug, the Sababa was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever tasted, and yet again one of the best things on the menu. The bar is open till the new year if you want to check it out for yourself.
Wednesday was a calm night in watching the candles burn, and Thursday was spent in Queens at a friend’s wedding. Throughout the week, I admired the different trees and holidays displays throughout Manhattan, in particular the Stock Exchange and Oculus. The real highlight of the week was Saturday night. While most of the world knew it as Christmas Eve, for Jews it’s an excuse to order Chinese food and watch movies, which is exactly what we did heading into a nice long weekend off. Merry merry!
What else I watched this week:
- The Good Fight: Season 5 – Whew. What an incredible show, really one of the best on TV. I’ll have more thoughts on this series next week as I take on the sixth and final season.
- The Princess Diaries – Really did not enjoy this! Perhaps because my first experience with it is as a 22 year old guy and not a 7 year old girl.
- Burn After Reading – Me and the Coen brothers don’t really vibe but I thought this was delightful and one of the few things I’ve seen by them that I liked.