Save the Deli

Pastrami King Update: Barrie bound

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Update on my post about the soon to open Pastrami King deli, which I wrote about here.

I had an excellent lunch at Coleman’s Deli in Toronto the other day (wayyy too long since I’ve been there), with the Pastrami King himself, Mr. Marty Marks. He has confirmed that the King will open up in Barrie, Ontario, a city about an hour north of Toronto. There will be no Toronto location at this time.
Here’s a few tidbits I gleaned from Mr. Marks on the new place:
-it will be just off the 400 highway, west of the Dunlop St. exit
-there will be special cooler bags available for sale to regulars heading up to cottage country, and they’ll get a discount on all takeout orders
-he’s going to be smoking the pastramis out back!
-expect homemade blintzes and coleslaw, among other treats

So get the sunglasses on and prep yourself for a few weekends by the lake this summer with a cooler full of meat. Nothing says wet, hot, Canadian summer like a sandwich from the King.

Can’t wait!

Frank Bruni on Katz’s

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

New York Times food critic Frank Bruni reviewed Katz’s Delicatessen in today’s paper. He gave the oldest delicatessen in existence one star, which I and many of you will take as an insult. I personally find it insane that affordable institutions like delicatessens and pizza places are ranked against the Le Cirque’s of this world. It is not only unfair, but it is unjustified. At the Toronto magazine where I write reviews, restaurants that fall into the cattegory of quick lunches or timeless spots are spared the stars, and receive only a reccomendation. But hey, it’s the Times.

Before you unleash your hate mail toward Bruni, pause and read the review, which does a wonderful job of glorifying and already glorious place.

“To revel in its pastrami sandwich, one of the best in the land, with an eye-popping stack of brined beef thatís juicy, smoky, rapturous. To glory in the intricate ritual of the place: the taking of a ticket at the door; the lining-up in front of one of the servers who carves that beef by hand; the tasting of the thick, ridged slices the server gives us as the sandwich is being built; the nodding when weíre asked if we want pickles, because of course we want pickles.

Itís a ritual unique to Katzís, an argument, along with Katzís age, to consider it the king of New York delis, reigning above the Carnegie, above the Second Avenue Deli, which closed a year and a half ago. It may reopen, but not on Second Avenue, a reminder that nothing can be taken for granted.

Katzís shouldnít be. At few other restaurants can you feel that youíve stepped this surely into a living museum, a patch of urban mythology.”

Read the Review Here (It will be available for a few days)
Send an Email to Frank Bruni Here
Please be civil.


Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

Biting into a deli sandwich can be an intense, sensual experience. The rush of flavors to the mouth combined with salt to the bloodstream and fat to the stomach triggers a sensory overload. The pleasure is intense. Often, it’s orgasmic.

Meg Ryan’s famous ‘faking it’ over a Katz’s pastrami sandwich from “When Harry Met Sally”

George Costanza’s pavlovian sexual reaction to pastrami from “Seinfeld”

Friend Adam Caplan’s tumble into ecstacy from a Centre Street smoked meat.

Upload yours to You Tube and send me the links. I’ll put them on the site.

The Butcher of Marais: Michel Kalifa et Maison David

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Bienvenue mon ami. Vous etes avec faim? Pas de probleme…allez nous a Maison David!

photo by Christopher Farber

Pardon my bastardized grade 6 french, but when one talks about the culinary joys of Paris, one cannot pollute the sweet words with the bile of maudite Anglais.

I write today about one of the finest deli men I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Michel Kalifa runs a small butcher shop and charcuterie called Maison David, just off the fabled Rue des Rosiers in the Marais District of Paris. Le Marais is one of the oldest and most treasured Jewish neighborhoods in Europe, though that character is steadily dissapearing. I learnt about this from Kalifa, who is also President of the neighborhood preservation society. The city of Paris is increasingly pressuring the Jewish residents of the Rue des Rosiers, with their traditional bakeries, delicatessens, and stores, to clear out for boutiques, salons, and gay nightclubs. Last year, the legendary Jo Goldenberg’s Delicatessen closed, possibly the most famous deli in Europe.

photo by Christopher Farber

“It’s artificial,” says Kalifa, of the gentrified area, “It’s a facade, a false street. People here don’t have the money to buy a dinner at these costs.”

Visit the site of Kalifa’s neighborhood commercial association (French only).

Until I ate at Maison David, I associated Jewish deli with cheap, plentiful, gut busting food. “Non Non Non” said Kalifa, laying various exsquisite treats upon his immaculate glass counter. There was mouth melting goose and duck pastrami, chopped liver the consistency of foie gras, mold crusted artesenal salamis with hazelnuts or peppercorns inside, and little karnatzels the size of a NIB candy. It was awe inspiring, showing that traditional kosher Yiddish cuisine (what Kalifa calls it), can be every bit as refined and delicious as the finest French, Italian, or Spanish charcuterie.

photo by Christopher Farber

Don’t go looking for towering sandwiches and cheap knishes. This is old world food. Small, very powerful, rather expensive. It is meant to be savored and swirled…food for thought.

Take the pe’tcha for instance. This traditional shtetl dish of jellied calfs feet, a Romanian favorite, is one of the most intense gastronomic experiences in the Jewish diet. But Kalifa will place a slice on your tongue like Timothy Leary, and as it dissolves and warms, the garlicky aroma of veal and fat will fill your cheeks.

photo by Christopher Farber

If you haven’t been to Paris, go now. And if you’ve been, but haven’t met Monsieur Kalifa, do so as well. With his Super Mario moustache and warm heart, you will emerge from his tiny shop full, satisfied, and a little bit more in love with the finest deli food imaginable. Bon Appetit!

Maison David
6, rue des Ecouffes, 75004
4e Arrondisement -le Marais
Paris, France
(014) 278-1576

Shavuot Edition: 11 City/ 2nd Ave News-Off the Broiler-Blintzporn

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Various tidbits to report for you hungry souls.

1. Eleven City Diner the sequel!
I spoke with Brad Rubin last week, the charismatic owner of Chicago’s Eleven City Diner, a retro deli/diner that is a hipster gem (read my take on it here). Brad is esctatic, because he has just confirmed Eleven City will open another location on Chicago’s famous Magnificent Mile. It’ll open sometime toward the end of the year, in a 400 seat space, which Rubin promises will be bigger and better and more vast than his south loop gem. But don’t despair deli lovers, Rubin also promises tongue, and says “Don’t think we’ll get modern on your ass!”
God bless the blessed meshugunneh.

1112 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago
Tel: (312) 212-1112

As well, the rebirth of the 2nd Ave Deli is becoming an encroaching reality. See the story on Eater here. My sources say it’ll be sometime in October, after the high holy days are passed. Can’t wait.

2. Blog on Blog Love: Off the Broiler
I returned from a conference in Utah last night to a flood of emails in my inbox from a Mr. Jason Perlow, packed with links, pics, and deli talk. Mr. Perlow is the founder of the foodie supersite eGullet, though now he has his own blog Off the Broiler. Perlow is a deli fan to the core, and has become a Save the Deli fan as well.
He posted a wonderful entry about this site on Off the Broiler, and then proceeded to follow the deli trail and head up to the Bronx to sample Liebman’s. Perlow’s description and photos from the Riverdale eatery are sensational. It makes me want to head back and dive into a tongue sandwich with a sweet cabbage roll on the side. There’s also a killer Flickr gallery to accompany. I highly suggest any deli and food lover check’s out Off the Broiler for some serious New York Eats.

3. … And God Said “Eat a Blintz”

Tonight begins the Jewish festival of Shavuot, the celebration of when the Jews received the Torah from you know who on Mt. Sinai. Baruch Hashem. For deli lovers, Shavuot is the time to feast on dairy products (put the corned beef down for a few days!), like cheesecake and my favorite, cheese blintzes. In honor of this, I’m going to include some blintz porn. Enjoy.


Ess Gezunt!

Katz’s sale rumours redux: NY Mag

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Rumours of the possible sale of Katz’s deli keep hitting me now and then, but it’s becoming more and more likely with the prss out there. This popped up today on Grubb Street, the foodie blog of New York Magazine:


Mother of Mercy! Is This the End of Katzís?

Katzís Deli is about as close to a sacred space as we can think of. Forget landmark status; the place is a shrine, the soul of what remains of New York Jewish-American culture. So the rumors we have been hearing about its imminent purchase by condo developers are disturbing ó and not any less so for being a little more persuasive than the ones weíve heard in the past. Katzís management denies the move, but ubiquitous restaurant Realtor Alex Picken tells us that heís getting some specifics through the grapevine.

ďFrom what Iím hearing, they will sell, a large building will go up, and then Katzís will move back in and take over the first floor,Ē he says. Though a wrecked Katzís would be in irreparable loss, we would settle for that; as long as their immortal pastrami, the heart of the Lower East Side, persisted, Katzís would continue to matter. Much as we love the ancient walls and counters, they donít define what makes the place special. (And anyway, weíre sure if it did happen, every effort would be made to make the new place look the same as the old.) But will it happen? It seems against human nature for anybody to resist the millions of dollars co-owners Fred Austin and Alan Dell are certainly being offered. Other men have sold atomic secrets for less.

The dark age of deli is approaching ever so quickly. If you haven’t been to Katz’s, best buy that ticket to New York and stake out a spot at the counter next to Beni, Peter, Alan, Jon, Freddo or any of the other cutters who are slicing the last hand cut pastrami in New York.

Save the Deli any way you can!

Words of Wisdom from Mr. T: Eat Your Pastrami Fool!

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

Listen up kids. Don’t think eating deli is good for you? Take it from Mr. T.

Mr. T. and Norm Langer, at Langer’s Deli in LA.

Mr. T. just finished a two week eating tour of Los Angeles delis with his manager Barry Greenberg, inspired (I like to think), by the enthusiasm of Save the Deli’s Los Angeles posts and our LA Podcast. I spoke the Mr. T. in the midst of this tour, and he imparted some words of wisdom.

“I pity the fool who doesn’t think deli is healthy! That’s a bunch of junk. Every food is healthy if you bless it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! A lot of peole get so caught up in the health food, walk out and get hit by a truck!”

Mr. T. is a regular fan of Junior’s, and he considers Marvin Saul like a father. Mr. T’s deli diet generally consists of several glasses of orange juice, a couple of eggs, and some danish, plus a whopping hot pastrami sandwich wedged between four slices of whole wheat bread–two on top and two on the bottom. Deli purists will only eat rye, but Mr. T has bad memories of eating rye when growing up in the ghettos of Chicago
“which is why T. don’t eat rye”

…so we’ll let it slide.

Kids, listen to Mr. T! Eat your deli and grow up strong like him. Don’t do drugs, love your parents, and stay in school.

If anyone tells you deli is bad. Pity the fool!

*many thanks to Mr. T. and Barry Greenberg for their time and enthusiasm.

some Mr. T. gold:

Toronto: Something delicious on the horizon…

Monday, May 14th, 2007

I got an email today from Marty Marks, a caterer and chef who is going to be…wait for it…opening a new deli in Thornhill this August. It’s name will be Pastrami King (no relation to New York’s excellent Pastrami Queen), and their website promises the following:

“Watch for the August / 07 opening of our new PASTRAMI KING ģ SANDWICHES& DELI to be located in Thornhill ( North Toronto ) and Barrie ON.

We’ll be specializing in Hot Smoked Pastrami Sandwiches on Rye. ( We make our own pastrami daily with a generous crusting of spices and peppercorns ). We’ll also be serving up traditional Corned Beef, Roast Brisket of Beef & Authentic Montreal Smoked Meat sandwiches along with sliced meats by the pound for take out, traditional appetizers, side dishes, homemade salads and comfort food desserts.

We’ll also feature a new & unique order ahead service for Cottagers called COTTAGE DELI X-PRESS ģ for those folks and their families who have absolutely no alternative other than to satisfy their cravings for Genuine Traditional Deli while at the cottage. Look for our Mosquito Carrying Deli Logo on our specially insulated ( ice stays cold for 3 days ) attractive cooler bags as we launch this service. We also cater for all occasions. Drool on Dudes!

For more info call 1-877-724-4488.”

Email is

Save the Deli Toronto faithful should get ready to welcome this new deli into our neck of the woods. Stay tuned for updates and field trip information.

A Board of Jpeg. Smorgas: The Flickr deli photo trove

Sunday, May 13th, 2007


A hearty thanks is due to The Gifted Gourmet on Flickr, who got in touch with me and passed along links to a stash of deli photos so vast, juicy, and mustard covered that it will satisfy any visual craving in the wee hours.




Flickr Carnegie Deli Pics

Smoked Meat on the Red Carpet: Chez Schwartz premiere

Thursday, May 10th, 2007


In the finest example thus far of why the Jews have and will forever rule the film industry, behold scenes from the premiere of documentary Chez Schwartz at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival tonight. As ticketholders entered the theatre, they were handed the ultimate movie snack: a hand cut smoked meat sandwich from Montreal’s legendary Schwartz’s delicatessen. The briskets were shipped in, prepped at a Toronto deli, and sliced right in front of the theatre by manager Frank Silva and counterman Joao “Johnny” Goncalves.

It was a total madhouse, but as the packed crowd of mostly exiled Montrealers took their seats. Nothing like a room full of hungry, loud, impatient Jews hyped up on salty beef with nary a black cherry in sight. But when the curtain came up and revealed a touching, warm, and ultimately wonderful portrait of what I and many consider to be the world’s best Jewish delicatessen. Shot after money shot of meat being smoked, steamed, sliced and eaten will leave any but the most ardent deli foe in need of smoked meat.

Mom with her half sandwich. The other half went to the lady in front of her, who was staring suspiciously.

I urge all deli fans to see this film. It will shortly be available on the website of the production and I am hoping to be able to sell it through this site.

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