And do I have the comedians for you! Stone and Stone -- twin brothers Adam Stone and Todd Stone, to be more precise. Amongst their many accolades, they were semi-finalists on "Last Comic Standing," have roasted people like Dennis Rodman on New York Friars Club, and their "Stone and Stone Show" is the longest-running standup show at The People's Improv Theater (PIT).
Comedians: check. Next, as usual, I thought hard about where to host this event -- what space would be most conducive to the atmosphere I'm looking to create? The answer might surprise you...
I'll give you one hint...
Yes, I'm backstage, waiting for you guys. And plotting the menu.
...Oh, did you want to know what's on the menu?
Honestly, my first idea was to make a Christmas dinner. Just to mix things up a little. I did a little research and crowdsourcing... but all suggestions somehow kept leading back to, "But really, it's OK if you make Chanukah food."
Hmm, Chanukah food. Well, OK fine. How about this?
Saffron Arancini (rice balls)
Ricotta blintzes with cherry sauce
Coconut quinoa kale salad with cilantro-cashew pesto
Lentil Vegetable Soup with fried matzoh balls
Greek spinach pie
Fried eggplant salad
Moroccan fish and peppers
Traditional Potatonik Loaf
Mexican chocolate donuts with chocolate ganache
A quick primer on Chanukah foods as pertains to the evolution of this menu:
Fried items: It is expected that one will consume a variety of fried foods on Chanukah -- in the Chanukah miracle, a skimpy amount of oil lasted for 8 days. Since we seem to have so much oil lying around, we might as well use it! Arancini are traditional Italian Chanukah fare; donuts (sufganiyot in Hebrew) are classic as well; fried matzoh balls is per the American Southern custom; and if you're frying stuff, you better be frying some eggplant too! (in my opinion)
Lentil soup: This is actually an influence from my Christmas research. Italians cook with lentils around this time of year for good fortune, as lentils resemble coins. That gave me the idea that they likewise clearly resemble gelt (Chanukah coins, usually made of chocolate). Voila, a new Chanukah staple!
Potatonik: Must. Eat something. With potatoes. Potatonik is a cross between a kugel and a bread, and it is delicious.
Greek spinach pie: In the Chanukah story, the Maccabees triumphed over the Greeks. What better way to triumph over them than to steal their culinary secrets?
Blintzes: It is traditional to consume cheese on Chanukah. This is in honor of a courageous Jewish woman Yehudit. She went alone to the Greek army general's tent and fed him cheese to make him thirsty and then wine to quench his thirst. Of course, he then became so drunk that he fell into a deep sleep... and she killed him. Bam.
There you have it. Now, come eat it!