I’m definitely biased, but I believe of all the holidays celebrated at this time of year, Hanukkah (my holiday!) has the best food. In my book, you really can’t do much better than a religion-endorsed diet of fried potato pancakes and doughnuts. It’s like you’re fulfilling a civic duty by eating artery-clogging comfort food.
Let’s consider the latkes (I’ll save my intense love of doughnuts for another column). There’s nothing like my mom’s recipe, but I found a suitable, unconventional fill-in at Star and Shamrock (1341 H St. NE). The Jewish-Irish pub’s Latke Madness sandwich ($12) is a massive tribute to both cultures, bookended with potato pancakes instead of bread, and stacked with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing. There’s even an extra latke in the middle.
The potato pancakes (which you can order in non-sandwich form as an appetizer with traditional sour cream or applesauce) are a bit cookie-cutter for my tastes. They’re shaped like perfectly formed fast-food burgers, unlike the more organic (handmade) shapes I ate growing up. But they’ve got that rich, deep-fried aroma and that slightly-crispy-on-the-outside-creamy-on-the-inside texture, which automatically redeems them.
One more thing I like about these latkes? They’re on the menu — and appetizing — year-round. That’s a lot more than I can say for eggnog.