Noodle ring? What the hell is a noodle ring? Well, if you haven’t heard about it either, I can’t really fault you: noodle rings aren’t really a part of our trendy modern cuisine, lol. An old entertaining tradition back in the days when formica tabletops and console televisions were newfangled, a noodle ring is a concoction of cooked noodles, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and a few other spices that’s all put into a ring mold and baked. The resulting dish is something that looks like a mad science experiment–or a food that you really don’t want to mistake for your bundt cake! Even though this American food relic has been pushed to the back–way, way back–of the recipe box, we still have a national food holiday for it, lol! So, today’s National Noodle Ring Day…yay…I guess? :P
Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?) no restaurant in New York City will be serving a traditional noodle ring this December 11th. Timeless, this dish is not! But when I heard about the main ingredients of this dish–noodles baked into an egg mixture–I couldn’t help but think of a recipe I really do love, that’s traditional, timely, and most importantly, tasty. Noodle kugel! Part casserole, part custard-y pudding, a kugel is made from egg noodles baked into eggs, butter, apples, and other flavorings, like raisins and walnuts. It’s a comfort-food dish from the Ashkenazi Jewish tradition, and it always makes me feel at home :) (And no, it doesn’t have to be baked into a ring mold, but if you want to, go nuts!) The main ingredients and the preparation are the same as a noodle ring, but without the…strange and disturbing additives, lol. And kugels are meant to be sweet, so they’re great either as a festive side dish or as a part of dessert–or even breakfast! Instead of attempting the noodle ring today, I may make a noodle kugel for the 4th night of Hanukkah :-)
I can’t believe I’ve never highlighted this place in all the months I’ve been doing this blog, but I guess December is as good a time as any! The 2nd Avenue Deli is one of the most famous restaurants in New York City, known as an institution to the Jewish delicatessen for decades. They received huge buzz and sympathy when they were forced to close from their original location, but re-opened to much love and fanfare (though they kept the original name). Traditional Jewish-American knishes, full-sour pickles, and paper-thin slices of pastrami can be had here, and should, by anyone who’s ever lived or visited New York. (Of course, I made my stance on who’s got the best pastrami in New York back in January, when I chose my old favorite Katz’s Delicatessen. Maybe their rivalry is why it’s taken me so long to recommend 2nd Ave!) But a little-known secret about the 2nd Avenue Deli is that they serve a mean noogle kugel as well. Filled with raisins and cinnamon, the kugel leans toward the sweet side, which helps balance out all the salt you get in a pastrami sandwich on rye. If you can’t get a noodle ring today, try out this noodle kugel, and you won’t even remember what that whole ring thing was about after all ;-)
2nd Avenue Deli
162 E 33rd St (between Lexington Ave & 3rd Ave)
“Delicious types of soups and salads offered include Matzoh Ball Soup served with carrots, noodles, and rice; grilled chicken salad; grilled salmon salad; or cranberry turkey salad that contains roasted turkey and cranberries. Other classic items on the menu include potato, spinach, or kasha knishes, hot dogs, potato or noodle kugel, and potato pancakes. To this day, the deli continues to be a favorite among New Yorkers attracting both old and new customers.”–Examiner
“Kugel is delicious and decadent, but not particularly healthy. Abe Lebewohl famously answered a question about the calorie count of some of the items on his 2nd Avenue Deli menu with the remark, ” ‘My food is delicious, but it can kill you.” Kugel is a far cry from corned beef and pastrami. It is not going to kill you but, from a health point of view, should be considered a “special occasion” food!”–Simmer In The City
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“Somehow we managed to drop over $80 here for dinner, but it was memorable. Mom ate the pickled green tomato and still doesn’t have words to describe it, good or bad, but said she liked it better than the other pickles, which my brother loved. The sauerkraut-style picked salad brought my mom back to her youth (and we’re of British descent via Ohio), but something about the light dressing was right out of great-grandma’s recipe book. I had my first noodle kugel, which was studded with spices and raisins and the highlight of the meal.”–Alissa S.
“I also was able to sample noodle kugel for the first time at Second Ave Deli as well. It was delicious and a great sweet dish. I’m not really sure how to describe the dish, but the sweetness of it went nicely with the salty deli meats.”–Laura Z.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!