It’s Friday I’m in Love (with this Challah)
Honey and Za'atar make this loaf my fave
There are many great Challahs out there. The one you make yourself is no doubt the best, of course. Challah Dolly makes a terrific one, soft and sweet. Obviously the Challah Prince has his own market on this magnificent shabbat loaf. And yes, I love the ones at Bread’s. But there is something wonderful happening in the world of challah at Nili, Miss Ada’s little sister restaurant, and we need to talk about it.
Nili is chef Tomer Blechman’s second restaurant, and this one is a sweet little neighborhood cafe located on Smith Street, in the space that used to be Milk Bar. They serve really good coffee, chai, lattes, and lovely pastries, and Israeli lunches on the theme of their homemade and heavenly hummus. So you might have a hummus bowl with shawarma made from lamb, cauliflower, or chicken, or a hummus bowl with greens and grains. Or perhaps a Sabich sandwich—eggplant, pickle, cabbage, hummus, tahini, amba, and jammy egg—tucked into a warm puffy pita. At night there’s a falafel-crusted chicken schnitzel dinner with mashed potatoes that will knock your socks off. To take away, there’s also a few Gazoz in the fridge, and little containers of labne, ambra, sweet potato hummus, babaganoush, and zhuug to take home.
And on Fridays, there is challah.
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This challah ($7) is a beauty and will be the best $7 you will spend this week. I promise.
Now what’s so special about this challah? Well, I’m glad you asked. First, it’s sweet and soft on the inside, and so airy and fluffy it’s almost like it’s been filled with helium. The crust is golden and glossy, with a bold darkness that borders on the color of a walnut. It’s dark, but not crusty, the egg wash gives it a little texture, a little nudge in contrast to the tenderness on the inside.
The best part is that it’s baked off to order, and while its warm, it’s brushed with honey and dusted with zaatar, a sweet-spicy combination that Tomer says is reflective of his culinary philosophy of yin and yang. “We love the combination of sweet and salt at Miss Ada and Nili. It brings the sweet challah a twist,” he told me.
The challahs are wrapped up in parchment, swaddled like little cherubs, and sent home with you for your Friday night table. My suggestion is to order two. One to eat on your walk home (don’t be shy, just pull off sticky sweet hunks of it), and have the other for the dinner table. This way you will also hopefully have leftovers for breakfast on Saturday. This is not challah to be made into French Toast. Just eat it the way it is. It’s that good.
Pre-order your Challah at Nili in person or call (929) 295-0606. If you need one today, they sometimes have a couple extra just in case someone forgets to order in advance. Enjoy!