Monday, November 06, 2006

Crembo Season

It's Crembo season. Ah, you say - what's a Crembo? A Crembo is sort of an Israeli take on a Charlotte-Russe. What's a Charlotte-Russe all those under 35 may ask? A Charlotte-Russe was a special bakery treat that my mother loved and if I'm not mistaken, the last bakery that I knew of that still sold the confection was Itzkowitz (I think that's the name) on Ave J and 12th (or maybe 13th - Barbara M, help me out on this one). Anyway, it was round, and wrapped in white cardboard (my mother says this was critical for maintaining shape) with a scalloped edge (it seemed such a cunning design to me) and had a base of sponge cake and then it was filled in with whipped cream and it had, in those pre red dye #40 days, a marischino cherry on top. It was real whipped cream I imagine, altho I'm sure that many modern day CR's are pareve whipped cream but what can you do. A Crembo has a soft cookie base that is nothing special really, and then the rest of it is a large, fluffy, mound of marshmallow like filling - the whole thing is coated in chocolate. In them thar days, Israelis didn't eat ice cream in the winter - meaning, no ice cream as in nada. I remember that sister Sarah once, while living on Kibbutz Eyn Tzurim, went down to the Kibbutz shop sometime after Sukkot was over to get herself an ice cream and was told, "K'far Ho'ref," or it's already winter. Over the last 25 years, Israelis have gotten into the habit of eating ice cream all year round but for many it is still a summer treat, regardless of the fact that the weather is still quite ice cream worthy for a good part of the fall/winter season.

My first Crembo of memory was with my sister-in-law, Barbara. She was deeply excited by them and still is, as is my mother, and she purchased the treat for the two of us and watched me unwrap and eat it with great pleasure. I remain unimpressed by Crembo's but like their seasonal nature. They're not available in the summer for the obvious reason - they'd melt too easily. I actually think I ate my first Crembo with Barbara when she was pregnant with Dina and that was a summer visit but I must be mistaken because they're not usually sold that time of the year. Maybe then, you could find the occasional hidden supply of them, even the summer. I'll have to ask Barbara if she remembers.

Before posting this, I'll have you know I checked with my mom to make sure I had all Charlotte Russe facts correct. But you never know...

2 comments:

Lisa K said...

It sounds more like a mallomar than a charlotte russe. And mallomars, as you may know, are seasonal--they disappear during the summer. I remember getting charlotte russes at Alexander's in Rego Park. There was a tiny pastry stand just inside the entrance to the store from the parking lot. It sounds implausible when I think about it now, but I'm pretty sure...

Beth Steinberg said...

I hadn't considered the mallomar possibility but it could be. Which came first, the CRusse or the Mallommar. I will investigate and we what I find out.