Save the Deli

Party Time in NYC and Toronto!

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Well folks, the clock is ticking. Books are already in stores, and if you order online, you’ll get them sent to you in just a few days. But things officially get started three weeks from yesterday (which was Yom Kippur), at the big launch party here in New York City.

What’s in store?

Well, first off we have a name. After weeks of intense voting, DELI-LICIOUS won out with 22% of votes counted. Victory goes to Larry Kerman, who suggested it in the comments. Bravo Larry.

Here’s the details:


Deli-licious: A Celebration of the Jewish Deli in New York

October 19th, 2009
7.30 pm at Benís Kosher Delicatessen
209 W. 38th Street ē Manhattan, New York 10018
Phone: (212) 398-2367

The event will feature:

-music and hosting by Jelvis, the Jewish Elvis
-deli themed world records with the Universal Record Database (open to the public. Submit record suggestions to me or to the URDB if you plan to attend. Any record is kosher, as long as it’s Jewish deli related)
-a special appearance by Friarís Club Dean and Borscht Belt legend Freddie Roman
-meats, mustards, and deli food galore…courtesy of Benís Kosher Delicatessen
-a reading, Q&A, and book signing with David Sax, author of Save the Deli (that’s Me!)

We hope it’ll be the over the top Bat Mitzvah that New York Deli deserves.

And then, just three days later, the party train arrives in Toronto:


5:30 – 7:30 pm at Caplansky’s Delicatessen
365 College St. Toronto, ON

What to expect:

Caplansky’s smoked meat, tongue, and other delicacies
Drinks at the bar
Live music from the Varsity Jews
A reading, Q&A, and book signing with David Sax, author of Save the Deli
Contests, prizes, and more surprises!

Presented by McClelland & Stewart, Caplansky’s, Koffler Center, Daily XY, and Ashkenaz

So what does this mean for you?

1. Help spread the word: forward this post in emails, on Twitter and Facebook, and via the old mouth
2. Bring folks: friends, co-workers, lovers, ex-lovers, old friends, new friends, and strangers
3. Show up and party: and bring some money for a book, because I can’t wait to sign if for you. In mustard.

See you there.

Atlantic Food Blog #2 “Yom Kippur: The Day the Delis Stood Still”

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

You can find this article at Food.Atlantic.Com

Each fall, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, most every Jewish deli closes up shop. Steam trays, usually piled high with fragrant meats, sit cold and empty. Slicing machines lie dormant, their blades at a standstill. The normal flying circus of roving trays, spattered mustard, and heated kibbitz has been given a day of rest. Now there is only darkness and silence.

By morning, deli owners, their families, and customers are already hungry. The ritualistic fast, which began after dinner the previous night, is full on. Within minutes of consuming the last bite of brisket, pangs of hunger materialize. The collective kvetching of the children of Israel soon begins, working itself into a wailing gripe that torments even the angels in heaven.

A day without food hardly sounds terrible to most, but to Jews it is a soul-wrenching trial. Picture a day without drink to Britons, a day without TV to Americans, or soccer for Brazilians. Denied our most essential pleasure, we turn upwards for help, asking God, “What have I done to deserve this hunger? How can I make it up to you?”

And God replies, “Look, you haven’t exactly been saintly this year. You were greedy (three helpings of chopped liver at the Feingold Bar Mitzvah); you were violent (pushing Mrs. Blumstein aside to get a booth at Corky and Lenny’s); you were dishonest (you didn’t lose your number at Hobby’s takeout counter, you never got one); and you took my name in vain. How many times did I have to hear “I didn’t ask for this goddamn sandwich on goddamn seedless rye”? You were bad, but now you feel a little hunger and you want me to bring you something to ease it? Well tough it out and start groveling, because you ain’t getting so much as the watery discharge from the mustard bottle until I see some serious repentance.”

And so the Jews stand and sit, sing and chant, and read aloud from the italicized words in their prayer books. They strike their heavy hearts with closed fists when naming off sins, listen solemnly to the rabbi’s sermon, stand, sit, stand, sit, stand, and sit. At one point the service comes to rest on the Unetanah tokef, a poem vividly describing the Day of Judgment for all humankind: (more…)

“Pastrami on rye with a side order of culture” Toronto Star

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

This today from Corey Mintz at the Toronto Star. Now, in addition to being “annoyingly trim”, I have a “black belt in blintzes”. Hells yeah.

The piece is below, but check out another mention in Gourmet, where I opine about the hot dogs at Montreal’s Orange Julep.

Pastrami on rye with a side order of culture
Author documents the changing way we nosh, one deli at a time

by Corey Mintz (more…)

The New Caplansky’s

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Living in New York has many advantages. Theater, museums, opera…all the cultural accouterments I can read about in New York Magazine and never go to.

But it also has its disadvantages. Rats, traffic, and rent that makes Tokyo jealous.

Here’s another one, being away from my hometown Toronto, I don’t get to Pancer’s, Yitz’s, Wolfie’s, Center Street, Steeles Deli, or other local delis as often as I used to, and that’s a real shame.

So it’s taken me a few weeks to check out the new Caplansky’s, which I did on two visits back. Here’s my impression:



Monday, September 21st, 2009

Gotta love this. A Jewish culture festival in Asheville, NC, called

Shana Tova

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Happy New Year all my Jews, Delis, Jewish Delis, and lovers of Jewish Delis!

Yes, it’s the Rosh again. The Hashanah. The Jew Year. Blow them shofars, dip them apples, slice them honey cakes, braise them briskets.

With the release of the book just one month away, it’s going to be a sweet, salty, and just fatty enough one for all of us. May you spend it with friends, family, and loved ones, and feel a sense of strong community, whether you find yourself in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, or out there in Salt Lake City.

Shana Tova…take it away Muppets.

“Speak of the Deli” in EveryDay with Rachael Ray

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Yummo indeed. Here’s a nice little bit from the good folks at Rachael Ray, asking my advice on ordering from the deli. Thanks to Leah for this. She insists she’d never use the word “sammy”, but the Ray Ray folks do love it. Who can fault them? “Meet the New Deli”

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

This story has been a long time coming, and it gets to a lot of what I feel is the hopeful future of Jewish delicatessen in this country. I wrote it in June, after a trip to Portland to visit Kenny and Zuke’s. October 2009

Zane Caplanskyís plan was modest: to set up shop in a tiny kitchen at the back of a dive bar (the rent was dirt cheap) and serve hand-carved smoked meat sandwiches with homemade whole-grain mustard. So, a year and a half ago, the Toronto caterer and lifelong Jewish deli lover began dry-curing raw briskets with pickling salt and a dozen heady spices (including mustard seeds, fennel seeds, and Kashmiri chile powder) for two weeks, then smoking them over hickory.

I tasted Caplanskyís efforts as soon as he opened for business. Nicely salted, tenderized with ribbons of melted fat, and properly cut by hand into thick slabs so that the juices stayed in the meat (dry-cured meat should never be sliced by machine), it had a complex flavor that made me rethink the very concept of Jewish deli. Ten minutes into lunch on his second day and completely sold out, Caplansky was forced to make a decision: He could either order some pre-pickled pastrami from a purveyor or close down the sandwich operation, get back to curing, and try again two weeks later. (more…)

Atlantic Food Blog #1 “At Delis, the Rosh Hashana Rush”

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

So here’s the start of something really fun. Over the next month, as the launch of the book approaches, I’m going to be doing some blog posts for the Atlantic’s Food Channel . That’s the Atlantic Monthly for those who don’t know. The first post is one for a sweet new year, so without further adieu, here we go:

At Delis, the Rosh Hashana Rush


When you’re Jewish, you can taste the holidays. Passover tastes of dry matzo, Shavuot of sweet farmer’s cheese, and Yom Kippur of stale hunger. Consider it the edible manifestation of spiritual commitment. For me, the tastiest feast happens on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which begins on September 18th, this Friday. In terms of foods, Rosh Hashanah is less restrictive than other holy days. The one prescription is to eat sweets (especially apples dipped in honey), to usher in a sweet new year.

Hollywood Delis in Vanity Fair and Caplansky’s secret in Daily XY

Monday, September 14th, 2009

The press volume is ramping up as the book release is just over a month away.

Got back from a surf trip last night (yes, the waves were good), to find the October issue of Vanity Fair in my mailbox. There, on page 126 (which is after about 100 pages of Givenchy and Prada ads), was a little article I wrote for the lovely Punch Hutton called “Hollywood Nosh Spots: Meeting, Greeting, and Eating” about the nexus of Hollywood power and matzo ball soup in LA’s Jewish delis.

I’ve scanned it here, for your amusement. Click on it to see the scan in a separate window.


But wait, there’s more.

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