7 Tips For Celebrating Hanukkah

Latke shortcuts, special dinners, and Joan Nathan's pick for where to buy brisket.

Order little latkes five days in advance from Ridgewells Catering in Bethesda. Photograph courtesy Ridgewells Catering

1. If you’re cooking a Hanukkah feast at home, cookbook author and New York Times contributor Joan Nathan, DC’s reigning queen of Jewish cuisine, recommends ordering your holiday brisket from Grow and Behold in New York. The company can ship proteins to the Washington area overnight, but CEO Naftali Hanau says order early to avoid shipping snafus during the busy holiday season.

2. Another tip from Nathan: While she is personally always in favor of from-scratch cooking, the author says a secret among successful latke-party hosts she knows is to start with frozen, preshredded potatoes of the sort used to make hash browns. They’re a huge time-saver when you’re cooking for a crowd.

3. Of course, an even easier method is to hand over the frying to someone else. Bethesda-based Ridgewells Catering makes bite-size latkes topped with smoked salmon, blueberries, or sour cream and apple chutney. It’s $3.77 per person if you plan on two latkes for each guest. Call 301-652-1515 to order.

4. And one more note about latkes: If you’re in the market for a quick fried-potato fix but don’t feel like cooking or entertaining, head to Firefly. Chef Danny Bortnick is cooking up Yukon Gold potato latkes with beef tongue pastrami, crispy soft egg, and horseradish cream. They’re $12, and will be on the menu through mid-February.

5. Meanwhile, in Cleveland Park, Washingtonian reader favorite Dino is running a special Hanukkah dinner December 20 through 27. The menu includes latkes, duck-schmaltz matzo-ball soup, pan-roasted chicken, and a choice of desserts. That’s $45 per person; reserve here.

6. Whole Foods is the place for fair-trade Hanukkah gelt (chocolate coins) from Divine Chocolate, as well as menorah candles.

7. Finally, Shalom Kosher in Wheaton sells holiday sugar cookies shaped like dreidels, stars, and menorahs by the pound for $9.69 (about 15 cookies per pound). You can pick them up at the store, but call in advance if you need a lot.

Happy Hanukkah!