Conclusions From Touring 6 Top Matzah / Matzoh Ball Joints in NYC

We chose six well-reviewed Manhattan matzah ball restaurants and proceeded to visit each one over the course of an afternoon.

Our hypothesis

No one’s balls are as good as your grandmother’s balls.

Ask any Italian where to get the best red sauce and the answer is “my grandmother.” It’s like that.

Our bet was that those of us who grew up eating matzah balls would be disappointed by all of the balls because they weren’t the ones we grew up with.

Edison Cafe Matzah Balls

Matzah vs. Matzo vs Matza

It’s the same thing, but the last vowel sound in the word has not single English letter equivalent… So as with most things, Jews can’t agree on the answer leading to multiple transliterations. We prefer “ah.”

Matzah ball soup variables

Matzah ball soup has a lot of variability. Based on our rigorous ball testing, here are the key variables to watchout for:

Broth flavor

Dill? Salt quantity? Too oily? If you add that much fat, it better add that much flavor.

Matzah balls derive a lot of their flavor from the broth they are bobbing in.

For the most part, we had a lot of good broth. Only a couple places did something special.

Ball density

Matzah balls range from too soft to maintain their own structure in broth to very dense. A good general rule is that greater density correlates with more flavor.

Ball size

The larger the ball, the less flavor.

If you like large, loose balls, it’s probably because you like the consistency… The way they feel in your mouth, not that good ole matzah flavor.

Spongyness

Spongy balls don’t need to be flavorful on their own as long as they swim in winning broth. Spongy balls are pervasive.

Extras

Noodles don’t add value. They usually just add mushiness. Exception: 2nd Avenue Deli, but only if little pasta squares can be considered noodles.

Kashka is a good thing to add if you like your matzah balls to taste like the root of a plant. Not a root vegetable, an actual root.

Restaurant matzah balls are soft

We both grew up with dense matzah balls. My family’s balls are so hard they’re weaponized. You just can’t get balls that are this dense in restaurants. There’s no apparent reason for it; it’s just a tragic fact of life.

If you like your balls soft, squishy, crumbly, or otherwise flaccid, Blue Ribbon’s are the limpest of the bunch. Personally, I hate these kinds of balls, but I know many-a-person who’s into this sort of thing.

If you like a soft ball that can still hold up under pressure, check out the 2nd Avenue Deli.

Price & Value

We found no relationship between price and quality.

We found no correlation between price and amount of food either.

Price is only related to the ambiance of the establishment.

But while we’re on the subject, Blue Ribbon is a little too proud of their balls. I’m not one to laugh at someone’s balls, but $15 is a joke.

Veselka, the best restaurant matzah balls in Manhattan

Why? Because Veselka’s balls are firm, like our grandmother’s balls and have a distinctive matzah-y flavor. The balls have a density and weight to them; when you handle them, you know it.

They have the saltiness that you expect from balls.

The broth is flavorful, with pieces of chicken. It’s served with slices of sweet challah bread, which balance the salty soup perfectly.

Veselka Matzah BallsThe decisive winner?

Veselka was great, but it’s got nothing on what we make at home.

In restaurants, kreplach > matzah balls

Kreplach are awesome. They are the wantons of Jewish chicken soup.

Restaurants usually make better kreplach than matzah balls. If a restaurant offers Kreplach or matzah balls, go with the kreplach.

Next year we’re going to have to do a kreplach tour.

Rudy Giuliani is Defending Activision from Manuel Noriega’s Lawsuit

If I learned anything from my time working as a legal researcher it’s that truth is far stranger than fiction.

“In July, ex-military dictator Manuel Noriega filed a lawsuit against Activision over his depiction in Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Today, Activision filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, calling it “absurd” in a press release issued this morning.”

“Activision has recruited former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani’s law firm to handle the suit, which they’re saying is frivolous.”

What a joke.

Via Kotaku

SwiftKey: The Reason iOS8 is Exciting

Android’s Best App

The killer app on Android was the predictive keyboard, SwiftKey. A lack of SwiftKey on iOS was almost enough to keep me from jumping off of the Android bandwagon (but Android’s terrible carrier-driven software update process became too annoying).

Thankfully, with iOS8’s added support of third party keyboards, SwiftKey is no longer an Android exclusive.

SwiftKey

SwiftKey is an alternative digital keyboard for your phone. It doesn’t look too special. It just happens to have a keyboard that is brilliantly designed for ease of use.

  • Punctuation is where you want it
  • The keyboard itself shows you letters in the right case (if you’re typing in lowercase the letters are shown in lower case)
  • It’s awesome predictive language system learns from what you type. If you use it regularly, it get scary good at predicting your language patters.

iOS’s Keyboard

OS’s pathetic excuse for a keyboard:

  • Only makes typing periods easy
  • Always shows letters in upper case making you look to the strikingly confusing shift key to tell what case you’ll be typing in

I don’t know how well their predictive system will work, but I don’t care.

Installing SwiftKey

Download “SwiftKey Keyboard” not “Swiftkey Note.”

I made the mistake of downloading SwiftKey Note... It was a bit confusing
I made the mistake of downloading SwiftKey Note… It was a bit confusing

Then follow these instructions (which are also included in the App’s installation process):

Women in Geekdom

I come from a family where the women are not to be trifled with.

I grew up in a home with an incredibly strong and intelligent mother. My mother was raised by a woman who was tough as nails. My father’s mother was a genius and world class card player. I had a great great aunt who was a nuclear physicist in the 1950s.

Call me naive

It hadn’t crossed my mind that women don’t belong in technology until I saw Twitter shit-storms on the subject. The most noteworthy for me was surrounding this blog post from my coworker Ellie.

Nor had it crossed my mind that women playing, enjoying, or critiquing the content of video games would be an issue… But nevertheless “#GamerGate” became a thing. And here’s an elegant takedown of that embarrassment.

My experience

Easily half of the most talented designers, developers, and project managers I have worked with over my career in technology are women.

XY <3 XX

Back in high school computer science class I copied off a girl when I didn’t understand something because she was hands down the best coder in my class.

With rare exception, I haven’t witnessed a ton of brogrammer bullshit, mostly because I deliberately avoid that kind of toxic man-child assholery.

Stupid behavior

If you’re treating people differently because they don’t have a Y chromosome, then you’re a piece of shit.

If you’re trudging through the Internet leaving comments that include “#NotAllMen” or anything that begins with “as a white man” you’re not helping anyone. Instead try shutting up and treating everyone with respect in your real life.

I really can’t believe this is a controversy.