Taking Brooklyn by storm is newcomer Brooklyn Sesame, whose debut product breaks down dense, crumbly blocks of sweet halva (Arabic for "dessert") into a delicious spread for more versatile munching. Halva is a traditional food enjoyed all over the world in diverse forms and is a particular favorite of Israeli Jews—including Shahar Shamir, a Brooklynite who arrived from Tel Aviv over a decade ago. He had been missing his Mediterranean confection but couldn't find a version that wasn't highly processed and, as a former dancer, he wanted something healthy that could still satisfy his sweet tooth. Taking things into his own hands, Shamir makes his halva spread by hand-grinding sesame seeds down to a nutty tahini base that he sweetens with raw honey. Instead of being cooked into dry slabs—which is how halva is traditionally prepared—the spread is creamy and easy to pair with other foods like savory cheeses, ice cream or toast. Best of all, there are no artificial flavors or preservatives—it's naturally preserved by the honey, so refrigeration isn't required.
Available in a variety of flavors, like raw almond, roasted pistachio, black caraway seed, and cocoa and sea salt, jars of Brooklyn Sesame Halva Spread start at $8 and can be purchased online from Brooklyn Sesame as well as indie food purveyors Mouth. If you live in the NYC area, check out their full list of stockists, which includes the new Brooklyn Flea + Smorgasburg winter location.
Photo by Nara Shin