A cherry cheese or pizza knish?

July 19, 2001
 By Barry Lewis
 Times Herald-Record
   "Don't tell me you're out of pizza knishes," warned the woman towing her two children. She tightened her sweaty grip around their little hands.

She could not accept rejection for the second time in less than 24 hours.

"I don't see any pizza ones."

The children were silent.

 "We have potato and kasha, we have broccoli . and . we have pizza. Yes, we have pizza knishes," teased Izzy, whose red shirt and face showed the flour battle scars that come with making .

"So Izzy, how many knishes did you make today?"

Izzy stood, silent.

How many brush strokes did Monet need to paint "The Bridge at Argenteuil"?

How many steps did Nureyev need to choreograph the "Nutcracker"?

How many notes are there in "Let It Be"?

Izzy doesn't count knishes. He just creates them. Dreams them up over the winter.

They are gourmet masterpieces.

How we yearn during the February frost for one bite of his heated fried potato - only to be awakened from our dreams by the sight of a frozen, prepackaged knish.

And there's one for every taste bud.

There's low fat, regular or sweet potato, cabbage and chili. You can have spinach or blueberry, cherry cheese or apple. There's even a chocolate cheese knish for those who throw caution and calories to the wind.

"We ship them all over the world," said Anita, Izzy's wife and the other half of this successful knish connection. "People come in, order and keep ordering. They've got to send home for the winter."

She remembers when this couple got engaged in their shop. Could a knish be an aphrodisiac?

No, but a little mustard wouldn't hurt.

Now, not all his knishes have been winners.

"We made a rice knish. It bombed," Izzy said, still trying to shake the taste.
Here's the skinny on Izzy: he doesn't make all the knishes.

Al makes Izzy's famous potato and kasha knishes in the city. He got the recipe from his dad, Ruby, who was given the secret ingredients by his mother-in-law, who Izzy suspects picked it up in the old country.

Which old country? Who really knows? All those countries are old countries.

If you summered in the area, you might remember Ruby, known around the Catskills as the Knish Man.

Along with Nutty Dan the Pickle Man (who also sold nuts), Ruby would travel the country roads, stopping at hundreds of hotels and thousands of bungalow colonies to peddle his knishes from the back of his van. His salt shaker was chained to the truck.

The only thing guaranteed to stop the afternoon mahjong games was the sound of Ruby on his portable P.A. system, alerting one and all that the Knish Man had arrived.

When Ruby wasn't schlepping around Sullivan, he was in Hurleyville and later Woodbourne, always pushing the potato.

The hotels closed. The number of bungalows dwindled. So Ruby stayed home and taught his son Al how to make the knishes.

Which brings us back to Izzy, who now sells Al's potato and kasha knishes in Loch Sheldrake, at his store, Izzy's Knishes, on Route 52. It's right on the lake.

Izzy said they're shipped to Sullivan at night. From the city. Real hush hush.

Where does Izzy keep them?

"We have a place."

Say no more.

He has the franchise to Al's Knishes. Imagine being the only person to sell Coke. Or having the sole rights to the Colonel's secret recipe.

Izzy has cornered the knish market.

And he's following in Ruby's tire tracks, driving his beat up station wagon with a pair of worn speakers to note the arrival of the Knish Man.

How many types of knishes do Izzy and Anita have in their heads?

"I say 'this is it' as I walk out the door in September. Every September," says Anita.

But Izzy says he still has a few knish combos up his sleeve.

Quiche knish anyone?


>> Memories, they're what made the Catskills classic
I’m dancing around the cabana area that surrounds the outdoor pool of the Shady Nook Country Club in Loch Sheldrake.

>> Glitz, Glamor and Gefilte Fish
Once upon a time that seems so very long ago, Tarzan – or the movie star who played him – taught a young Monticello ...

>> Preservation Hall: Finding ways to preserve the heritage of the Catskills
Vegas. Atlantic City. The Catskills. In the ’50s and early ’60s, the Catskills were one of America’s top entertainment hot ...

>> Seeking the Heiden, star of the Catskills
I often drive by the old Heiden Hotel, past the gabled Tudor-style, three-story structure that is covered in worn ...

>> The great Passover strike of '77
I hear that all the time. Right after I tell someone I live in Sullivan County. It doesn’t matter - big-time politicians ...

>> Mannie's hotel was a tight ship
I was on line in the kitchen, grabbing some two-dozen soups for my lunchtime guests at the Raleigh Hotel.  

>> Summer molasses in Sullivan
It's summer in Sullivan, and I've spent the last 20 mid-morning minutes inching my car a quarter-mile up Route 42.    

>> Perfect rolls, topped off with some traffic jam
All this traffic for challah and onion rolls.   What's going to happen when we serve up slots?   At not one, but possibly three casinos.

>> Hooray for rugelach; summer's no bummer when Izzy's in town

 Izzy's back.  Mitzi's back.  And soon they'll be rolling rugelach at Fialkoff's. As faithful to the county as newlyweds ...
>> Jennie G. still means quality
She sits on the shelves, amid the litewhite, natural oat and country wheat. She attracts the eye of choosy shoppers ...

>> Servin' up summer - in servitude style
"Why don't you waiter this summer?"   My son shot me a look as if I had asked him to pay for a full tank of gas.  

>> A cherry cheese or pizza knish?
"Don't tell me you're out of pizza knishes," warned the woman towing her two children. She tightened her sweaty grip ...

>> All you can eat in the Catskills
Frankie Abreu is down to serving his last three plates of sautéed mushroom caps with onions, a couple of small orders ...

>> My laptop for a cream puff
If only I could have found a chocolate cream puff. There had to be one extra in the kitchen or at another station.

>> Eat something, you'll feel better
Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, a summer resident of Fallsburg, said it takes 20 minutes to drive through Fallsburg...

Copyright   |   Contact Us   |   Terms of Service