Open Sesame! Introducing the Ben & Jerry’s of Halva (and More!)

By Danielle Crittenden Frum

Yes, I know. You don’t like it. It’s both dry and weirdly textured. Thanks, but no thanks. If you wanted to eat a bar of compressed pencil shavings it wouldn’t help if I told you these were gourmet, Belgian-chocolate-flavored pencil shavings.

I once felt that way about halva too (to the degree I really knew halva): Wasn’t it that brick-shaped “treat” they excitedly offered you in Hebrew school as if it were a delicious slice of cake? And didn’t it become one of life’s great food disappointments, along with the festively colored cookies at the synagogue’s kiddush that actually tasted like dust?
Israeli-raised Lisa Mendelson felt that way too — after she moved to New York. The only halva she could find over here, in her words, was “dry and sandy and available in only a few boring flavors.” Moreover, the American tahini she bought was bitter, oily, and hard to stir. Her homesickness for the real deals led her and two friends — all avid, home cooks — to found Seed + Mill, an artisanal source for gourmet sesame products.

Their store opened in January, in New York’s prestigious Chelsea Market. Seed + Mill is the only place in the country “freshly milling tahini” and producing gourmet versions of it, along with ice cream, sesame spice blends, and — wait for it — 28 flavors of halva, including such exotics as lemon & white chocolate, ginger, cardamom, and sea salt dark chocolate.

Seed + Mill’s tahini starts with the best of the best sesame seeds, sourced from Humera in Ethiopia, and roasted  at precise temperatures to lock in their natural flavor and exceptional nutritional benefits. The sesame seeds are then ground in small batches to produce an irresistible paste – known as tahini – which can be devoured all on its own, whipped into a dip, added to smoothies, baked into treats, or drizzled over just about anything.

Seed + Mill offers three types of tahini: a regular, smooth blend; a whole-seed type which is earthier and stronger in flavor; and a green tahini which is mixed with parsley, garlic, and lemon.
For its Sesame Spice Blends, Seed + Mill partnered with New York’s ultimate spice master, Lior Lev Sercarz at La Boîte, to create a unique set of spice blends, perfect for transforming an ordinary savory or sweet dish into something extraordinary.

The even better news is that Fig Tree & Vine customers don’t have to travel to New York to taste Seed + Mill’s halva and sesame products. In time for the High Holidays, we are partnering with Seed + Mill to offer three gift packages in which you can sample flavors of your choice including FREE SHIPPING.

Choose from a deluxe package that features samples of halva, tahini, and a spice blend (tote bag included). We also offer a halva and tahini pack. For those who just want halva, you can have that too.