THIS WEEKEND: Your Wacky & Delicious NYC Hanukkah Itinerary

Step aside, Christmas and New Year’s. Starting tomorrow and for the next eight days, there’s a big kid in town who’s ready to revel in his blue-colored spotlight. And based upon the crazy, sexy, and delicious Hanukkah events we’ve gathered for this weekly column, the “Festival of Lights” might as well be called the “Festival of Bites,” or the “Festival of Half-Naked Jewish Women” – depending on how you look at it. So go, eat latkes and jelly doughnuts, listen to a comedian kvetch, and oogle at some Hanukkah hotties. That’s the spirit.

FRIDAY THE 7TH:

  • Alright, so Hanukkah doesn’t officially start today, but why not start celebrating early?  Go out with like-minded folk somewhere (Murray Hill) and swap holiday stories over a rosemary cocktail at the ‘hood’s only non-beer hall, non-sportsbar: The Archive. Then head over to nearby Jewish legend 2nd Ave. Deli before midnight for a nightcap pastrami sandwich.

SATURDAY THE 8TH:

  • Usher in the holiday with some good-hearted kvetchy comedian monologues and Jewish identity crisis brought to you by Jackie Hoffman, comedian and Broadway star who most recently started in the macabre musical The Addams Family. In her second-annual off-Broadway show A Chanukah Carol, Hoffman is forced to reexamine her own life when she is visited by the Ghosts of Chanukah Past, Present, and Future, and oh crap this sounds familiar…Show is at New World Stages (340 W. 50th St.), 8pm, $39.50. Running every Fri. and Sat. until Dec. 29th. All the details here.
  • After the show, head to recently-opened UWS location of The Smith for some comfort food, where you can discuss the renewed significance of Tiny Tim over the American brasserie’s baked pretzel and famously decadent and sensational mac ‘n’ cheese. All the inside-info on The Smith here.

SUNDAY THE 9TH:

  • Start your second day of Hanukkah off right with a mouthful of jelly doughnuts and a two-and-a-half hour Hanukkah walk through the Lower  East Side. Led by the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy, the tour will visit the LES’ historic synagogues and include free jelly doughnuts, coffee, and Jewish history you can proudly share with family at the dinner table later.
  • As mentioned in our weekly HUMP DAY article,Hanukkah hotness hits Highline Ballroom,when Jewish international burlesque duo The Schlep Sisters hold a pageant-style show where eight Hanukkah hopefuls vie for a spot in the very-exclusive Menorah Horah Royalty. Retro swimsuits and dreidel and latke songs included. Who will compete? Who will win the crown? I’m schvitzing just thinking about it. Bring your JDateShow is at Highline Ballroom, 6pm, $25. All the details here. All the inside-info on Highline Ballroom here.
  • Conclude your celebratory Hanukkah weekend at the city’s only modern Jewish-American bistro: Kutsher’s Tribeca.  Their popular “Eight Nights of Latkes” menu offers a different latke every night, such as their pastrami smoked duck with sour cherry, chili-cured belly lox and cream cheese, and peking duck. Oy vey. See the Hanukkah menu here. All the inside-info on Kutsher’s here.

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For the Love of Latkes

Latkes are to Hanukkah, as pumpkin pie is to Thanksgiving—you have to have it. Nowadays chefs and home cooks have spruced up the classic potato pancake, and you can find versions of them with horseradish, caviar, and jalapenos. And for the ultimate latke showdown, head to the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Monday, December 10 for the Fourth Annual Latke Festival at 6:30pm.

There, over a dozen restaurants including A Voce, Balaboosta, Blue Ribbon, The Vanderbilt, and more, will compete for the title of latke master or mistress (yes, I made that title up). Naturally, the Sussman brothers will also be vying for the championship, which, based on the few times I have tried Eli Sussman’s version, I think they have a good chance. For $55 you can experience the fun, as well as nibble on the classic pancakes, mini bialys from Hot Bread Kitchen, sufganiyot, otherwise known as jelly doughnuts, from Dough, and drink He’Brew beer and coffee from Brooklyn Roasting company. The latke magic lasts until 9pm, and a part of the proceeds go to The Sylvia Center.

Also, on Thursday, December 13 at 7pm, the 92Y is celebrating their Fifth Annual Beer + Latkes Hanukkah Celebration. For $22, sample the festive pancakes, sip beer, and spin a dreidel or two. If you want to go judge latkes on your own, try Kutsher’s Tribeca, which tops theirs with caviar On their Hanukkah menu (December 8 though 16), Toloache offers a Mexican version with jalapeno and tomatillo-apple salsa, and the Jewish-Canadian deli Mile End makes them now, and all year round.