Save the Deli

As Promised: A Paperback Preview

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Yesterday I promised you a taste of the new paperback chapter, and here it is folks, hot off the press.

Afterword to the Paperback Edition

The Schmaltz Strikes Back: Deli’s Future Returns to Its Roots

In the spring of 2008, shortly after I’d finished most of the writing and editing of this book, I received a brief email via from a guy named Zane Caplan. He stated his intention to cure his own smoked meat and sell it in Toronto, and though his budget was lean, he boasted that deli was “in his blood”. To be honest, I kind of shrugged. I got emails like this all the time and never heard from the majority of these dreamers again. My roommate at the time, Adam Caplan, looked over my shoulder and remarked, “I think that guy’s my cousin.”

If there was ever an unlikely savior for deli in my hometown, Zane Caplan was it. He grew up in a political dynasty, surrounded by well-known parents and siblings who held prominent posts in Canadian government. Zane fell into that life, running campaigns and working in related businesses, until a difficult divorce sent him across the world on a bout of soul searching. He lived for a number of years in India, working in and running small restaurants for travelers. Cooking was his passion, and when he returned to Toronto after a few years abroad, he began catering to film sets and managing a pizzeria.

Deli held a special place in Zane’s heart. He had grown up eating at Switzer’s with his grandfather, who was in the garment business, and later held court at Moe Pancer’s, Yitz’s, Coleman’s, and other stalwarts of the Toronto deli scene. Inspired by his frequent road trips to Montreal for Schwartz’s smoked meat, Zane began tinkering around in his home kitchen, trying to replicate a decent alternative so he wouldn’t have to drive five hours each time he wanted a sandwich. He dry cured raw briskets with pickling salt and a dozen heady spices (including mustard seed, fennel, and Kashmiri chili powder he’d procured in Little India) for two weeks, then smoked them over hickory in his backyard. He served it to friends. They loved it. “You should open a deli,” a few said.

Why not a deli? People loved the barbecue and charcuterie restaurants that were popping up on every corner, and wasn’t smoked meat a marriage of the two? Young Jewish families and retiring baby boomers were returning to downtown Toronto, which boasted a vibrant Jewish cultural scene, but most of the Jewish restaurants remained in the suburbs. Wasn’t it time the delicatessen returned as well? Zane saw his life’s mission taking shape before his eyes. His great-grandfather was one of the first kosher butchers in the city, and this would be a continuation of the family legacy. He would name the deli after his family’s original name, and to make his commitment official, Zane went and legally changed his last name back to Caplansky.

Want to read more? Then do yourself a favor and buy yourself the paperback.

Paperback Time!

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

The paperback is officially out!

Can you believe it’s been a year?

Yes folks, last year, on this day, Save the Deli launched like a schmaltz powered rocket. Remember the party at Ben’s? 400 plus people who came for free food, and Freddie Roman, Jelvis, and world records… Since then I’ve toured all over America with the book, talked to countless deli lovers, and even took home a few awards.

And now, I bring you the new and improved Save the Deli, in paperback. We’ve made a few changes, corrected some mistakes, but most importantly, there’s an ENTIRELY NEW CHAPTER on the roots movement of new delis. It talks about Caplansky’s, Mile End, and Kenny and Zuke’s, three of the most important Jewish delis to open in a long time. Tomorrow, I’ll post a sample from the new chapter, but if you really want to sink your teeth into it, buy a copy today.

Reasons why:

- new material!
- lighter than the hardcover!
- cheaper than the hardcover!

You can also get it on the Kindle, or iPad, or the rest of those sweet devices. So head to the Save the Deli store today and stock up.
*note: it’s out now in the US, but the Canadian edition just went to the printer. Sorry Canada, you’re going to have to wait a few weeks.

Smoked Meat in Chicago?

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Until very very recently, Montreal Style smoked meat was only available in Montreal, and select parts of Toronto, and a few spots in Canada.

Then we saw the opening of Brooklyn smoked meat emporium Mile End.

And now we have a sighting in Chicago.

According to Tasting Table:

There’s something exciting in the air–something smoky and meaty. It emanates from a small machine behind the Fumare Meats counter, where owner Dick McCracken has recently begun making pastrami.

McCracken starts with corned beef, soaks it, reseasons it with bay leaf, mustard seeds, garlic and allspice, then loads it into a low-temperature oven. It spends the night at 250? on a maple-wood bed, and emerges in the morning glistening with fat, with a rosy glow and a sweet smoke flavor. A fresh hunk (or two) are smoked each night, and sometimes more on the weekends.
He says it’s less salty and more fatty than much of what’s found in Chicago delis. And its name, “Montreal-style pastrami,” references his use of maple instead of hickory wood

I don’t think the wood has as much to do with it as much as the spicing and the use of brisket, but it sounds damn close to Montreal Smoked Meat. Anyone tried this? Thoughts? Opinions?

Fumare Meats

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