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The power of eight

Celebrating Hanukkah one day at a time

Email|Print| Text size + By Meredith Goldstein
Globe Staff / November 28, 2007

Hanukkah comes early this year (it starts Tuesday night), and while it's not even close to being the most important holiday in the Jewish faith, it is a festival of lights that lasts a whole week.

Today, Sidekick offers up eight ways to celebrate eight days.

1. You have a little dreidel. You made it out of clay. Wait, you don't have a little dreidel? You can get one at Kolbo Fine Judaica (437 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-731-8743, kolbo.com), a 30-year-old business where you'll find dreidels for kids (toy dreidels run from 30 cents to $6) and for adults (high-end dreidels run from $20 to more than $100). The store, which has a play area for children, keeps a set of instructions on hand for people who want to learn the rules of the game.

2. OK, so the bartenders at Mantra (52 Temple Place, 617-542-8111, mantrarestaurant.com) probably didn't have Hanukkah in mind when they created their new blue drinks, the Neela Martini and the Patiala Martini. But the sips are blue, and that's good enough for us. General manager Demetri Tsolakis reports that the Neela (that means blue in Hindu) is made with stoli blueberry, frozen blueberries, and homemade blueberry infused vodka, and that the Patiala (named after a party city in India) is made with blue curacao, rum, pineapple juice, and a sugar cane stick. Both are $12. "They are very, very blue. They're just very, very tasty," Tsolakis says. L'chaim!

3. Barry's Village Deli (6 Windsor Road, Newton, 617-527-8244. barrysvillagedeli.com) isn't technically a Jewish deli (it's a New York-style deli), but it has all of the basic dishes covered -- bagels and lox, blintzes, knishes, and, of course, the Hanukkah entree of choice, potato pancakes, also known as latkes. The staff at Barry's says it makes the best latkes in the Boston area thanks to a secret ingredient. What is it? "If I told you it wouldn't be a secret," said a sarcastic Barry's employee who spoke to us last week. The restaurant sells about 12,000 pancakes during the Hanukkah season each year. They run $12 for 18. Best to order in advance.

4. From next Tuesday to Thursday night, UpStairs on the Square (91 Winthrop St., Cambridge, 617-864-1933. upstairsonthesquare.com) will serve up a special prix fixe menu in celebration of the holiday. It starts with potato latkes served with applesauce and scallions. It ends with vanilla doughnuts served with raspberry jam. For entrees, you have the choice of chicken with potato dumplings or brisket with noodles. Head chef Steven A. Brande says the menu is inspired by his youth -- mainly, his mom. The dinner is $48.

5. Deck the Halls, a benefit for the Room to Dream Foundation, is known as a spectacle of Christmas decorations that fill up rooms in the Van Millwork Design Center (65 Crawford St., Needham, 781-444-8744, roomtodreamfoundation.org). But not all of the designers who sign up to decorate rooms for the event go for red and green. Margot Heilbronner, a Natick resident and owner of Hopkins Rose Interiors, promises that her room -- the Eclectic Room -- will have nontraditional holiday decor including polka dots and jewel tones. Good for the Hanukkah set. Deck the Halls runs Dec. 9 and 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. $10.

6. Most people are familiar with the home of Dominic Luberto, the man whose Jamaicaway house is decorated with hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights every season. Some say he's created an eyesore. Some say the lights halt traffic. Sidekick has no official opinion, but we do point out that this year, Luberto has added a Star of David to the display. And we think it's about time. Hanukkah is the festival of lights, right?

7. Just in case you haven't had enough starch, Harvard Square Business Association (Winthrop Park, Cambridge, 617-491-3434, harvardsquare.com) hosts an "Everyone Loves Latkes Party" from 3 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 8. The event, a first-ever latke party for the neighborhood, features a sampling of potato treats from around Harvard Square. There will also be live Klezmer music and storytelling. The latkes will be free.

8. JDub Records, a label that promotes a group of Jewish artists, is hosting concerts across the country on Dec. 8, a celebration of Hanukkah called "The 8." While other rock shows are being held in cities such as Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Washington, T.T. the Bear's (10 Brookline St., Cambridge, 617-492-2327, ttthebears.com) will host the Boston-area show, which will feature the Israeli elecronica band Simple People, the jazz-hip-hop fusion act Mocean Worker, and the eclectic rock band Wailing Wall. It starts at 9:30. $12, $15.

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