Monday, September 14, 2009
Football started this week. College Football isn't my thing, it's been in swing two weeks now. I find the games sloppy, even the USC Ohio St. game. I just see the college games and it makes me anxious to see the professional competition. Watching Adrian Peterson tear apart the Cleveland D kinda looked like college though, he was tearing people apart like a rag dolls. Monday Night Football just ended and of course, the Raiders disappointed. I'm used to them blowing it so it was actually surprising to see them go up late, but in the end they always find a way to blow it.
Updating an earlier article the new small section in the Bay Bridge infamously known as the S-curve has already caused traffic jams and accidents. They hope traffic will settle once people get used to the curve, although speeds will be reduced on the bridge for the next...oh 3-4 years. I drove across the bridge Sunday night in that crazy rainfall, I survived! I'm hoping the new bridge will be a new Regional/National monument once completed. The current Bay Bridge is rather dull, Grey, and unappealing. The stayed cabled design will not be unique, but I don't think I've seen a bridge like that of this magnitude. I visited Boston before they finished the Zakim Bridge, which is also a cable-stay bridge and traffic was pretty crazy. Now it's Boston's city's newer engineering marvel, the same will be for the San Francisco Bay Area and with the new Bay Bridge.
Enough messing around and lets get to the pastrami. I stayed busy this past week and had three different pastrami sandwiches to feature on this blog entry. The first one, the Chick n' coop, isn't such a traditional pastrami sandwich, but still holds a close place in my heart because it's close to my house and I've eaten there many times. It's the most geographically desirable pastrami and it's under celebrated because of the tendency to order chicken at the Chick n' coop. Really, the best thing to order on the menu is the corned beef or the pastrami, whichever you prefer. The first time I took my roommate there under after hyping it up she tried her chicken and complained it was dry. She took a small sliver of my pastrami and exclaimed "I'm getting that next time!" The scene at Langer's with my grandfather jumped back in my mind and i responded back "Well you'd be a fool NOT to get the pastrami." The pastrami is hand cut in front of you and they make the cuts very thick. The reason this is not a traditional pastrami sandwich is they do no have crispy rye, which is a big sin...you must settle for a soft roll or a dutch crunch roll. The finished product does not disappoint though.
As you can see in the 2nd picture, I add coleslaw to the sandwich to get that extra kick and to make it seem a little more true to the Jewish style pastrami sandwiches. This is key advice, take it and order a side of coleslaw, you'll thank me. At the Chick N' Coop a pastrami, coleslaw, and a diet coke costs about 8$ which is quite a value for how much tasty cured meat you get in your sandwich. They have several locations, one on Taraval, one in Daly city, and one in the Excelsior....all of them are the same in that they are frequented by cops and old folks. This is a quiet place, you won't have to worry too much about parking or dealing with crying kids. Just pay for your food and leave your trey when your done, no muss, no fuss. Sometimes that's exactly what you're looking for, and the coop is my go to when I feel like this.
The next sandwich I had was on Friday afternoon. My friend sent me an e-mail to my office early in the morning asking if I would like to go to Moishe's Pippic to take advantage of his brisket special. I replied with a "YES! Get me out of the office for a bit, please!" To my friend's dismay, Mr. Pippic ran out of brisket but promised to have double next week....ooo fail! My friend gave him a little hard time, but understood. I have a picture of him smiling with his corned beef on a kaiser roll, he didn't seem to upset with his sandwich. I ordered my favorite, the New Yorker: Pastrami, rye bread, coleslaw, and Russian Sauce.
The first time I came here he offered me mustard to which I exclaimed "I'm Polish, I only like the Russian dressing!" to which he reminded me "It's neva too late to converyt." That had me laughing. This place is a serious Jewish style deli. Along with the Vienna products Hot Dogs and Pastrami, he serves latkes, knishes, and matzo ball soup.
Moishe's Pippic is a place that my friend and I go to and have conversations about what's going on in life. This trip we talked about fantasy football and him definitely adopting a new dog by the end of the week. It's a place I really enjoy and it always sets up my weekend very nicely when I go there on Fridays. So far, Moishe's Pippic is my 3rd favorite pastrami sandwich in the city, and that's not very bad at all! Miller's East and my new love - Max's Opera Cafe top it because they have thicker, tastier pastrami. The next spot I review might top them all though. It's not in the City, it's in San Carlos, CA!!!!
I fared the traffic Saturday afternoon to go to The Refuge from my house in Pacifica.The first time I had a sandwich from here someone brought it to me and they only got it with mustard, while you all know I like it with Russian dressing. The distance kept me from going for awhile, but it was well worth the 20 minute drive. I got the pastrami sandwich with Russian dressing, coleslaw on rye bread of course. The pastrami was large thick pieces. Compared to Moishe's Pippic this pastrami was much thicker and tastier - advantage Refuge.
The place advertises pastrami on the outside along with a charcutrie and Belgian beers. Most people in here are eating pastrami sandwiches or Reuben with a large glass of Leffe or Chimay....very nice beer. I had the pot de creme of chocolate for dessert as well and it was very rich and thick, a good pot de creme. I do not have a picture of the pot de creme because I ate it so fast, sorry guys. Instead enjoy more pictures of the beautiful sandwich.
I also noticed they have a sandwich called the toasted #19. They don't have numbers on anything else, the reason they call this the toasted #19 is the flagship pastrami at Langer's (my most favorite deli of all time) is named the #19. It comes just how the Refuge does it pastrami, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing, and coleslaw but Langer's doesn't toast the bread, you have to get a Reuben for that.
Now that I've had it fresh from the source I can honestly vouch as Pastrami King of the Bay that this pastrami is as good, if not better than any pastrami around. They say on the menu it's house made from the navel cut of the beef like it's supposed to be. The chef/preparer of the pastrami does an excellent job and the thick cuts are perfect sized. http://www.refugesc.co...
You can read about the meat maker there, but basically he learned from French meat curers and incorporated his Jewish cuisine experience to make his own pastrami. Merci bien pour le pastrami, monsieur!
Is it possible the best pastrami sandwich comes from a small gastropub in San Carlos, CA??? Yes, it very well might be true! I think you could equal but not better.
Monday, September 7, 2009
The two restaurants featured this week were hand picked by my 2 bosses Larry (Quincy's) and Ron (Max's). Both of them are fans of the pastrami blog and I was happy to oblige their choices by sampling their favorite pastrami sandwiches.The Bay Bridge Closed on Thursday and it's been really quiet and sunny of in the City. It's made for the perfect opportunity to get out there and get some sun. With less people in the city, parking has been easy and it's made getting the pastrami sandwiches that much more enjoyable.
Quincy's is located on Market Street next to the Roaster's Chicken between 10th and 11th. It's a small hole in the wall that only sells sandwiches at lunch time...nothing else.
I left the office around 1 PM on Friday afternoon after preparing drawings for Ron to get my sandwich from Quincy's. I took my car since the parking lot was empty and like I said, parking was readily available. I parked at the corner of 9th and market, on the left side of the street and proceeded down Market a block to the spot. I started taking pictures and they kinda looked at me funny for coming in like a weird reporter or something. I guess that's to be expected.
This was my second time at the spot and my first time I got a pastrami on marble rye. This time they were out of marble rye, but still had some decent regular rye bread. If you can get it with the marble, I suggest that...it's a little better. Anyways for a pastrami sandwich on rye with Swiss cheese, tomatoes and mayo + a small plum it was about $5.25. That's quite a value! I really like the pastrami at this place, they keep it steaming in a crock pot and serve it straight out of the crock pot onto your bread...which keeps the pastrami juicy and tasty. The sandwich could be a little larger, but I think for the price it's one of the best value legitimate pastrami sandwiches out there. Enjoy the pictures of this beautiful sandwich.
The guy at the counter of Quincy's is a little cold, perhaps I can make a knock knock joke next time and break him down a bit. I told him I liked his pastrami and he just said "75 cents" and handed me my change back. Normally people say thank you and are willing to chat it up a bit. I felt like I had to keep the line moving and keep out of his business...he just wants to sell sandwiches, which is cool with me. A great lunch spot on Market Street!
I went to Max's on Saturday afternoon and I got a parking spot right in front on Golden Gate facing Van Ness Ave. I was already in a great mood and then I was surprised by pastrami perfection.
I got a seat for one as this was a solo mission, when the waitress came over I told her "I'm here for the pastrami." I looked at the menu and their was a page for pastrami lovers....god I love this place. It had suggestions of different ways to get your pastrami all authentic and good like the Reuben or with hot mustard. I know how I like my pastrami though and I just said it. "I'd like a pastrami sandwich with tomatoes and coleslaw. Do you guys have Russian dressing?" she replied that she would put some on the side for me and tomatoes would be added. If you make my pastrami like that, I'll love you long time.
The finished product did not disappoint and it was the best pastrami sandwich I had.....in a week cause I went to Miller's last Thursday. But still this is a superior authentic pastrami. My only small tiny gripe was the rye bread fell apart very easily...you can see in my picture the bread is already falling apart when it's served to me and at the end I pretty much had to use a fork....oh well it was still the BOMB!
The pastrami at Max's bumped down Moishe's Pippic to 3rd on my list and took away the position of 2nd best pastrami sandwich in the city of San Francisco...I'm still giving the slight edge to Miller's East on Polk Street, but I think next time at Max's I may ask them to grill the bread on the pastrami then I think it might be an all out battle which I had would have to taste them right next to each other to really tell the difference. Props to the man who can not eat meat anymore (Ron) for suggesting to me one of the best pastrami sandwiches in SF. The price tag was about 20$ with the opera tax, but it was well worth it, because of the size and quality.
On top of the pastrami sandwich this place is pretty good too. They have cheeseburgers, salads, and great desserts. I remember when they had a place in Palm Desert, CA (No, they did! A long time ago.http://findarticles.co...) I shared the gigantic eclair with my buddy and when we got to the car our stomachs were both bursting...but it was worth it. They have macaroons the size of your fist...literally!
I hope you enjoy the blog and good luck to people in the East Bay getting to the city tomorrow. I would suggest driving to West Oakland and paying the parking piper 5$ in the Privately owned lot...you can't park at the BART parking lot in the East Bay before 10 AM without a permit, which totally screws commuters. I wonder how many people are gonna get tickets because of that tomorrow? Thanks BART!
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Mosaic of Meats : A History of New York Delis
Delicatessen is a term meaning “fine food” or “delicacies”. The word has its roots from Latin but it was Germany who first introduced delicatessens to New York City. Originally, the first stores spelled the word with a “K” instead of a “C” .
According to the Sanford Levine owner of the famous Carnegie Deli in New York, Germans and Alsatians ran all delicatessens in New York until the nineteenth century. Many of us would refer to these types of shops as a European delicatessen and they would sell food by the weight which included liverwurst, pickled vegetables, dips, sausages, and other cold cut items. They do not characteristically sell take-out food which has become accustomed in American and Jewish in New York City. In a sense, they duplicated as grocery stores for local areas.
The history of deli food has its origins in Germany more so or as much as any other country in Europe. Dallmayr is a delicatessen that dates back to the 17th century and is still open today functioning as a multifaceted restaurant, deli, coffee shop that offers party services. Dallmayr was the first store to import bananas, mangoes, and plums to the German population all the way from far away lands such as the Canary Islands and China. German emigration to America took off in the 18th century . New York was a popular place for Germans and in the 1860s it was estimated over one hundred thousand Germans lived in the city. The German influence in the City is still alive! The Yorkville neighborhood on the Upper East side of Manhattan was/is a large German hub. In the 19th century there was a part of the town named “Little Germany” which is now called “Alphabet City” because of the way that A, B, C, and D streets intersect the area. Today in the Yorkville area, Schaller & Weber sell authentic imported German foods. They were established in 1937 and over the years they have gained a reputation by winning various competitions and international prizes for their quality meats and sides. The bologna, sausage, pickles, and mustard are featured but they carry some hard to get imported German delicacies. Some of these items would be served in old German delis in their heyday; Spaetzle (German noodle dish), Landsberg breads and jellies, German cheeses such as Limburger, potato dumplings, and desserts such as German chocolates and marzipan.
Over 2 million Italians came to New York City from Europe between 1900 and 1910. The only 2 populations to immigrate more during this time were the Germans and the Irish. They immediately set up small Italian neighborhoods, some went to the Bronx, some to Brooklyn, and even a few to East Harlem. The most famous New York Italian neighborhood is the one in Manhattan, Little Italy, specifically Mulberry Street. Around the time of the influx of the Italian Americans Mulberry street was crowded with street vendors and businesses. Italian and German delis were similar in they generally charge meat and cheeses by the pound rather then to-go foods. Italian delis specialized in meats, cheeses, and pastas. The delicacies they provided from the old country included mozzarella, parmesan, gorgonzola, prosciutto, and salami. The Italian delis also carried sweets, like the traditional panettone cake and dried figs, as well as traditional Italian cooking spices and garnishes such as basil, oregano and olive oil. Today in Manhattan, at 200 Grand St, Di Palo's fine foods is a classic case of a traditional Italian deli. In 1903 Savino Di Palo came to America and started a “latteria” , a dairy store, in the Little Italy neighborhood. The store sold exclusively cheeses, until later generations made it a full deli with meats and other items for selections.
The Irish in New York City are a completely other story, in that they do not have “deli”, but rather that have pubs which served bar foods and Irish delicacies. They deserve mention because of a significant contribution to deli foods. Corned beef, cabbage, and beer is the traditional St. Patrick's day meal - The term “corned” is quite old in origin and technique includes putting meat in a large crock pot and covering it with large rock-salt kernels to preserve the meat. The Irish were the biggest exporters of corned beef until 1825. Corned beef is famous for being the main meat in the Reuben Sandwich, a deli classic.
With Eastern European immigrants came to the Jewish immigrants. Major Jewish immigration to New York began in the 1880s with the increase on antisemitism in Europe. The original population of Jews settled in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The Jewish delis revolutionized the deli and everything we came to know about them. They served hot foods in a cafeteria style, where you pick up your tray order and go on up to the register and pay. Jewish delis follow the kosher laws and some of their delicacies include matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, and pastrami. Traditional pastrami is made from the navel end of the beef, which is much more fatty than the chest end of the beef. It is then “corned” and seasoned with different herbs and spices to obtain its flavor. The meat is meant to be steamed before slicing and serving. The word “pastrami” is derived from Yiddish but likely came from Turkish origin. A similar dish is served in Armenian cuisine called “basturma” and also as “basterma” in Arabic cuisine. Its current form is associated with a Jewish deli selling “pastrami” in New York City in 1887. It's likely the word was made to sound like the Italian word salami to make it more marketable to customers. The classic New York sandwich is the pastrami sandwich on rye. It comes in different variations, some people like it with coleslaw and other like it with Russian dressing which is similar to thousand island sauce.
The most famous and loved delis in New York are Jewish. They include the 2nd Ave Deli, The Stage Deli, The Carnegie Deli, and Katz' Deli. Some may argue which has the best sandwich but Katz' deli on the Lower East Side might be the most famous. Katz' was founded in 1888 by a Russian immigrant and is known for its pastrami, corned beef, and hot dogs. Every week Katz' is going through about twelve thousand pounds of meat. Its famous slogan “Send a salami to your boy in the army” came about in World War two and to this day salami is sent to troops in the war. Katz' was in the film When Harry Met Sally and has been featured on television both on PBS and the Travel Channel.
The deli as we know it in America was an evolution process. The first shops sold only meats and delicacies, but they eventually moved on to selling hot and prepared foods. The delis today remain specialized to the culture they originate from, but more varieties exist. American culture has spawned its own deli style with the submarine style sandwiches and commercialization of sandwiches with places like Subway and Quizno's. The Bay Area and Los Angeles have excellent traditional Jewish delis which I was able to attend for on field research on the traditional deli experience. With the great appeal and magnitude of meat aficionados it seems the deli will remain and evolve as tastes change.
DiPalo, Lou. “Our Story”. DiPalo Selects. May 5, 2009.
Levine, Sanford. "History of a Deli." May 5, 2009. <http://www.carnegiedeli.com/history.html>.
Schaller and Weber. 2007. May 10. 2009.
“Dallmayr” Wikipedia. May 13. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dallmayr>
“Delis” Wikipedia. March 23, 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delis>
“Demographics of New York City” Wikipedia. April 15. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_New_York_City>
“History of Corned Beef” April 23. 2009. <http://www.kitchenproject.com/history/CornedBeef.htm>
“New York” Man Vs. Food Travel Channel 22 April. 2009.
“Pastrami” Wikipedia. April 22. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pastrami>
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I have gotten a few different types of responses to starting this blog. Some people think it's really awesome. Some people think I'm ridiculous and laugh at me. One friend told me to watch out for the foodies, they'll get upset! Closer friends of mine have lauded this blog's launch as a success and a great way for me to outlet my pastrami knowledge.
I have been busy this past week looking at new sandwiches to feature in this next post. My first visit was last Saturday to the San Francisco Ferry Building, which houses The Golden Gate Meat Company. It was a scorcher and I left from Pacifica worrying about how I would manage to get a parking spot down by the Ferry Building. Luckily, it wasn't too bad. I drove all the way down Mission and parked by Steuart Street, two blocks away from the destination. It was a convenient place to park as there was a Walgreen's right next door and I went in to buy a soda to get change for parking. The lady was very understanding and gave me two dollars in quarters which gave me about 40-50 minutes. That's just enough time to get my sandwich and enjoy it by the pier!
It was about 2 P.M. and the farmer's market people were cleaning up their stands while still trying to get that last minute sale before ending the day. I had tunnel vision for my pastrami. The Golden Gate Meat Company is located in the actual Ferry building, not on the outside, towards the North end of the building. It can be very intimidating; crowded with alot of noise on the weekends, but I managed to find the place alright. I heard some good things about this hot pastrami on yelp, plus I had made the pilgrimage to the Embarcadero. I was expecting great things. I ordered the pastrami and I saw the guy grab a roll and grab some pastrami out of a heated dry bin...this is a big no no. Proper pastrami should either be kept steaming or freshly sliced. To add insult to injury there were absolutely no fixings to be offered except for mustard. No rye bread, no Russian dressing, no tomatoes, no coleslaw...what gives? With a drink and a bag of chips, I believe it came to 9$ which is pretty reasonable. I went and found a near by bench outside of the building with a view of the Bay Bridge and began the pastrami analysis.
It was pretty weak. The pastrami was thin and a little chopped up. It tasted more like hot beef than hot pastrami to me; it lacked that "cured" meat flavor that corned beef or pastrami has. PASTRAMI FAIL! This was a below average pastrami sandwich, by the King's standards. I feel like this is the type of pastrami sandwich someone from New York would try and would say "This place doesn't have any good delis. They wouldn't know a good pastrami if it slapped them in the face." Speaking of pastrami sandwiches smacking people in the face, have you seen the new preview for the movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs? It's based on a children's book written in the seventies. In the book a town's food supply comes from the weather. It would come three times a day, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Falling snow was actually mash potatoes, the rain was either juice or soup, winds would rustle up hamburgers and other falling foods. All you had to do was come outside and catch it. Eventually it becomes out of control and a Tornado made of tomato sauce combined with large boulder sized meatballs end up crushing the town. The locals float to safety on a piece of bread and begin a new life in a place where they buy food in grocery stores instead of it falling from the sky. The movie preview seems to globalize the food falling epidemic, as I saw the Eiffel tower essentially being turned into a toothpick for a ham and cheese sandwich while a large corn on the cobb was rolling up and down the Great Wall of China. I saw this movie ad and I couldn't be help but daydreaming about pastrami sandwiches flying from the sky. Everyone on earth deserves a well made pastrami sandwich to fall out of the sky into their laps...just at 12:30-1 PM time. How great would that be?
The second pastrami sandwich I had this past week from Memphis Minnie's on Haight Street in between Steiner and Fillmore. Memphis Minnie's isn't known for their pastrami, they're a BBQ joint. When you enter Memphis, you notice the quirky decorations. There are pigs all over the place on the wall, flying from the ceiling, on the counter...they pride themselves in ribs, pulled pork and Texas BBQ beef brisket. I think their brisket is the best I've ever had, another place I can remember off hand that could shake a stick at it was Jake's Roadhouse in Monrovia, CA. As far as the Bay Area Gorilla BBQ in Pacifica and Great American BBQ in Alameda do a pretty good BBQ beef brisket, but I think Memphis takes the brisket belt. It's a bit surprising a place that specializes in pulled pork would serve pastrami sandwiches. They only serve this sandwich on Wednesdays and I had it about a year ago and didn't think it was all that great, it was the same bread with the same red BBQ sauce they used on the brisket sandwich so it didn't separate itself from the pack very well. However several weeks ago I notice a new sign advertising the addition of a Reuben sandwich that came on rye bread, with sauerkraut, Russian dressing, and Swiss cheese. I took note and promised myself I would come back to try it soon. I came in last Wednesday and ordered one pastrami sandwich on a roll, with Russian dressing only, side order of coleslaw and one of the new Reuben sandwiches. I was pleasantly surprised, Mr. Bob Kantor stepped up his pastrami game! The rye bread was toasted and crispy with lots of melting Swiss cheese, more cheese than usual. The sauerkraut was mild, not overpowering like some can be and the Russian dressing was perfectly creamy, not too red.
Pastrami with Memphis' slaw, Colorful!
The new hotness, Reuben sandwich
That's all for now, folks. For the next post I plan to upload a paper I wrote for a class last semester. The class was called Biography of a City: New York. Instead of taking the final I chose the other option of writing a term paper. I did a history of delis, although the subject matter had no academic value, I received a high grade on it and I think some of the information presents a small overview of the different neighborhoods in New York City as well as the interesting history of delis in America and their origin.
Please e-mail feedback, comments, questions, suggestions of places to try to Pastramiking@gmail.com Yelp reviews can be found at http://pastramiking.yelp.com