Save the Deli

Paperboy’s Roundup

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Given that it’s the end of summer and I’ve been struggling to find quality material to fill the site, it’s a wonder I haven’t done a news roundup before. Reuters does it, the CNN ticker does it, even Google News does it. So now Save the Deli does it. I’ll try to make this a weekly thing.

Here’s what’s coming up on the deli wires.

Beer lover? Foodie? Checkbook, please (The Oregonian)

Kenny and Zuke’s, the deli that I wrote about which will be opening in Portland very very shortly, is going to be selling $2000 memberships to help finance the opening. This furnishes members with no equity and no return on investment, but I suppose they are hoping to recoop it in pastrami.

Nick Zukin, who is opening Kenny & Zuke’s with veteran restaurateur Ken Gordon, says the financing reduces risk. “This is a way to earn extra money,” Zukin said. “I’d rather not use traditional money-raising techniques because the expense of capitalization can kill restaurants.”

Jewish deli prides itself on tradition (Chicago Journal)

A wonderful writeup of Manny’s, that south loop Chicago classic run by the always lovely Raskin family.

“Just walking in, I felt as if I’d been transported into the warm and comforting time of a by-gone era. Upon entering, we were relieved that at 1:30 p.m. we missed the line that regularly snakes out the door and down Jefferson Street at lunch rush. We were greeted by the aromas of deli meats and spices. The sleek metal counter was filled to overflowing with two tiers of sandwiches and Friday lunch specials, including fried smelts, salmon patties, and macaroni and cheese, many of these dishes based on family recipes.”

Hawaii Gets a Taste of Yiddishkeit With Kosher Deli (

Our bearded buddies over at the orthodox Chabad have taken valuable time away from Yeshiva to open up a glatt kosher deli in Hawaii. Yudi Weinbaum will be hanging ten with tfillin. Hey, if there’s surfing rabbis out there, they need something to fill that post Pipeline hunger. Welcome to the scene Yudi’s Deli. I can’t wait to visit. Baruch Ha’shem!

“They say the first thing a community needs is a mikvah, then a shul. After that, I think it needs a restaurant,” he states. “When you have 50 restaurants to choose from, one doesn’t make such a difference.” But in Hawaii, where one small deli makes a world of difference, “it’s a place we are proud of. It helps to make us a community.”

The proof, fellow foodies, is in the pastrami

We all know that college students are often underfed or malnourishes, which is why this article from the University of Southern California student newspaper is invaluable to them. It reccomends Langer’s heartily, which is just what those hungry young minds need in order to develop. Perhaps Norm will offer tutorin on pastrami steaming for master’s students.

The star, of course, is the pastrami itself. Cured in a house blend of spices, then smoked and finally steamed until falling-apart tender, the hand-sliced meat is a revelation; it dances around the mouth, sugar, salt and spices all vying for attention before the entire mass falls apart on the tongue.

Harry G. Levine’s Pastrami Land

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

My friend Scott in San Francisco was kind enough to email me this article yesterday, which appeared in the summer issue of Contexts, the quarterly magazine of the American Sociological Association. In it, author Harry G. Levine delves briefly into the sociological and historical origins of deli in New York. There’s great insight here, and deli buffs will surely pick out a few tidbits.

As Levine writes:

Where did these restaurants and this culinary tradition
come from? Nobody thinks that poor Jews in Eastern Europe
ate like this, certainly not in restaurants serving huge sand-
wiches. In their current forms, some of these foods, including
the sacred pastrami, didn’t exist in the old countries. This is a
story of America and New York City.

Click on the Link Below to Download the PDF file of the article.
Pastrami Land

Kosher follow-up from SF

Friday, August 24th, 2007

Vis a vis what I posted on yesterday:
Check out this story from San Francisco

Kosher consumers in the South Bay uttering the old ad line “Where’s the beef?” will have a new answer at the end of the month: Nowhere.

Restaurateur Israel Rind announced that as of Sept. 1 his three-month-old Sunnyvale eatery Izzy’s Brooklyn Deli will forego its kosher certification and be known as “Izzy’s Brooklyn Café.”

“It’s a shame. The community will lose,” said Rind, whose Palo Alto restaurant, Izzy’s Brooklyn Bagels, will still be supervised by the Vaad HaKashrus.

“I wanted to keep [the Sunnyvale restaurant] supervised, but to keep it closed on Shabbat was impossible from a business perspective.”

*Also, I want to make note of a correction, pointed out to be by Prof. Ted Merwin. Katz’s was never actually kosher, and the kosher and non-kosher delis grew up side by side, and not as an evolution. That said, the kosher deli is an endangered species, while the non-kosher rules the roost.

Chaz on Rye…how unkosher should a deli be?

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

Things have been quiet here in deli world. It’s the summer after all, and most of us are working on our grilling skills, rather than the steam tables. So I figured it’s time to spice things up with some sacriligeous debate right before the high holy days.

High on the Hog

I want to talk about treyf. Shrimp. Milk and Meat. Bacon. Ham. Pork. (the later three of which I’m told come from one magical animal!)

Let me preface this by saying that I am in no way kosher. I eat every manner of chazer that crawls upon the earth and feasts from the bottom. I’ve consumed countless cheeseburgers, ribs, wontons, and variations of unclean and unkosher foods over my lifetime. I wasn’t brouht up kosher and I don’t foresee myself ever becoming kosher, let alone the stricter glatt kosher.

And yet, when I go to a delicatessen and I see ham on the menu, or cheese on the sandwiches I cringe. I’ve been told by owners of delis that they’ll openly scold someone for ordering mayonaise on a corned beef sandwich, while they serve Reubens with pride. I have heard them openly mock those who order milk with a pastrami on rye, yet they’ll boast about the quality of their clam chowder. The worst are those who do this and still call themselves “Kosher Style Delis”, and somehow justify it by saying their meat (which they’d dress with lobster if it sold), comes from a kosher-style provisions company.

Here in Canada, where assimilation is less prevelant than in the United States, and where we are somewhat more traditional, you’ll rarely find cheese or pig on the menu at a Jewish delicatessen. But in the United States the best known delis are those who completely ignore any of the kashrut conventions.

Once upon a time all Jewish delis were kosher. Now the kosher delis are in the minority. A lot of this has to do with cost. As more Jews have abandoned kosher living, those who adhere to it have demanded higher and higher standards of inspection. Glatt kosher, the rigorous standard practiced by the orthodox, is extremely labor intensive. A glatt kosher deli, such as Noah’s Ark in New York and New Jersey, must employ a mashgiach, who is paid to supervise the kitchen at each and every deli, for all the hours the place is open. That’s the main reason why kosher delis are much more expensive than non-kosher one’s. Often, rival supervision agencies will refuse to certify a deli unless they pay their rabbis, cutting them off from a chunk of the community. They’ll take out ads in Jewish papers, declaring that “Vaad of Vancouver states that Goldstein’s Deli is no longer kosher”. Many rightly refer to this as extortion.

However, the journey down treyf lane is a perilous one, which delis frequently ignore. What may start off with a slice of swiss on the corned beef can quickly snowball into cobb salads and grilled pork chops. The more Philly cheesesteaks a deli serves, the less attention it is paying to the chopped liver. Variety may be the spice of life, but the delicatessen demands a concentrated effort.

I am not advocating delicatessens all return to kosher standards. That is an unrealistic, and rather expensive option, which would surely eliminate many fine delis from the map. But a line must be drawn somewhere. Pork has no place in a deli. Shrimp has no place in a deli. Pastrami, corned beef, and brisket are meats of such succulence, that cheese only dulls their attributes.

So I open the question to you: is there a minimum kosher standard Jewish delis should adhere to? Or is it a free for all, with all the chazerei on the table?

Some Noshstalgia Perhaps?

Monday, August 20th, 2007

Another good blog has popped up on the horizon, which falls into the realm of our mission here at Save the Deli.

Noshstalgia is a site dedicated to preserving great food traditions.

As it’s manifesto declares:

“Why Noshstalgia? Noshstalgia reflects my interest in preserving great, endangered, food traditions and sharing them with others. ….I appreciate the attention that good food and its contemporary heroes are receiving. But, it seems to me that many of the most important aspects of our food culture – past and present – have yet to penetrate for many people. The foodie trend has reached a point that suggests it may soon be “over”. It feels to me like we’re at about (Warhol) minute 14. Popular culture is very harsh with fads that have passed. And too often, good, important ideas are lost because of their nominal association with a defunct trend.”

Noshstalgia on Brisket

Noshstalgia on Pastrami in Boston

Go on, get Noshstalgic!


Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

photo courtesy of

Yes folks, technology and kosher deli have finally met, and the result is the vending machine dispensed knish. My friend Amy Rosen sent me this little ditty from the New York Times today about a new kosher vending machine that dispenses hot food.

“Earlier this month, the nation’s first glatt kosher vending machine that can shoot out a hot knish was installed at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. The machine also crisps up kosher mozzarella sticks, cheese pizza and onion rings. And in a few weeks, freshly grilled hot dogs in warm buns will be for sale there, too. Not from the same machine, of course. That wouldn’t be kosher.”

Thanks to the good folks at Kosher Vending Industries, you will also soon be able to purchase a steaming hot frankfurter from a hole in a plastic machine. Sexual innuendos notwithstanding, this is the greatest invention in fast kosher food since someone decided to put pickels in barrels on the street. The knish machine is called the Hot Nosh 24/6, which I believe is the Jewish version of ED-209 from Robocop. ED-209 dispenses pain with bullets, while Hot Nosh 24/6 dispenses pain with heartburn.


As technology improves I can only imagine the possibilities; instant kugel, a steaming paper cup of bean and barley soup, kishke on a stick…etc
I’ll still take my knishes and hot dogs the way they are meant to be served: lying on a greasy griddle for hours, stewed in the grease of their departed bretheren. But if I’m in a pinch and need a quick nosh, I’ll take the Hot Nosh 24/6 over a ham sandwich. I do like how it’s the Hot Nosh 24/6 and not 24/7, which means that the machine is truly glatt kosher and doesn’t dispense on shabbos. Baruch Ha’shem.

Kosher Problem Solving: the PLT

Monday, August 13th, 2007

Jason Perlow's PLT

As a deli purist the mere idea of anything accompanying pastrami besides mustard (yellow or brown) and rye is revolting. Places who adorn theirs with any sort of vegetable, sauce, or loaf to the contrary are enemies in my books. Pastrami is such a spicy experience in succulence, that the idea of pairing it with anything just astounds me.

However I will make one exception. The PLT.

For many of us, the world of goyish sandwiches hold few treasures as simply perfect as the Bacon Lettuce and Tomato sandwich. Served on toasted white or brown, garnished with crisp iceberg and fresh tomatoes, it is a vision of Christian heaven. Trouble is, the BLT is as treyf as they come, which means to say that it is about as kosher as Anne Murray. Bacon is forbidden in the clearest sense, and so those of my bretheren who adhere to the laws of kashrut cannot and should not know the joys of the BLT.

That is until some kosher genius invented the PLT. Also known as “Beef Fry”, the PLT substitutes fried pastrami for bacon. Pastrami is cut thin, then fried either in its own fat, or in a deep fryer. The resulting sandwich is a salty, smokey, crisp bastion of deliciousness that is 100% kosher, even with mayo.

For full instructions on how to make a PLT, check out this offering by Off the Broiler today.

One of the best (and few) I’ve had is at Ari’s, a tiny deli in Washington Heights, NY, way uptown of Harlem, right next to Yeshiva University. This miniscule delicatessen, which is actually smaller than the smallest Manhattan studio, serves the kosher students at the university a bevy of comfort foods including the PLT, Matzo Ball Soup, and Cholent (they even sell Got Cholent? t-shirts).


2566 Amsterdam Ave, New York 10040
Btwn 187th & 188th St
Phone: 212-740-8030

Le Tour De Nosh

Friday, August 10th, 2007

Tour de Noshers

For those of you looking for a little delicatessen based physical activity this weekend (aside from the lifting and chewing), take your cue from the San Francisco Noshers. This newly formed group, led by the great David Katznelson, are all avid fans of Jewish food. David wanted to organize a tour of the Bay Area’s great delicatessens, but instead of renting the mini-van, he told everyone to come by bike. Amazing.

The Fost with the Most...Dan Fost

How much more San Fran does it get folks? An eco friendly way to enjoy the great foods of the most gorgeous city in America. To those who say no such good deli exists in the city by the bay, I will point you here. More importantly, I challenge any of you to organize your own Tours de Nosh in your hometowns. Imagine biking around Chicago or Hollywood or Philadelphia, hitting up the best delicatessens and shedding pounds along the way. If you do, I promise to post your photos and stories up here.

Outside David's

Many thanks to David Katznelson, Scott Kirschenbaum, and Philip Maisel for the photos. And a round of applause to all the Rebooters and friends who came out for a relatively drug free tour.

David's Reuben

East Coast West Blintzes

A License for Deli

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

A fan from Michigan sent me this photo the other day. It’s amazed me how many delicatessen themed vanity plates there are in this world. I’m sure there’s more than what I’m showing below, and I’d love to see them. Send them over or post them on Flickr.





Chicago Clarification

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

Some readers have written me questioning whether some of the Chicago news I wrote yesterday is true. So I should put in this disclaimer.
*The information contained on this site, especially pertaining to the opening and closing of delicatessens, comes from a variety of sources, and if often based on rumor. I feel it is my duty to report it, even though there is a chance those rumors may not come to fruition. To Chicago deli fans I can only advise that they be patient…what they desire is only a matter of time.

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