Save the Deli

Friday Roundup

Friday, May 27th, 2011

First off, a hearty thank you to everyone who commented on the last post about Howard. In his honor, Caplansky’s Delicatessen here in Toronto is offering a weekend brunch special called a Howard Jack, which is chocolate babka french toast. Worth checking out.

Because I was basically off the grid for a month, there’s a lot I didn’t post. Apologies to those who sent me stories or ideas. Here’s a few recent ones in a quick end-of-week roundup.

Seattle’s ambitious new deli, Stopsky’s, had a soft opening last week, with lines reportedly out the door. After a small espresso fire (who knew that could even happen?), they’re prepping to reopen fully and finally on Monday. The menu is up online and the special on opening day is knish. Check it out, the menu looks sick.

One thing I missed out on was the second annual Deli Summit from the procative thinkers Karen and Peter at Saul’s in Berkely, who debated the future of the Jewish delicatessen once again with help from a who’s who of the new school deli world: Mile End’s Noah Bernamoff, Ken Gordon from Kenny and Zuke’s, and Evan Bloom from Wise Sons across the Bay…with everyone’s favorite cookbook maven, Joan Nathan, in the moderator’s chair. With any luck, video should be posted soon, but a big hand goes out to Saul’s, which is quickly becoming the Aspen Institute of delicatessen thought.

It’s Friday, and that means if you’re in the DC area, head down to Sixth and I synagogue, and get a kosher delicatessen sandwich from Spike Mendelssohn’s recently launched food truck.

And in legal news, a few weeks back the 2nd Ave Deli sued an establishment called the Heart Attack Grill over the naming of menu items. Reports the New York Post:

The Second Avenue Deli filed suit yesterday to beat back a chutzpah-laden challenge to sales of its “Instant Heart Attack Sandwich” and a planned “Triple Bypass Sandwich.”
The famed Jewish-style restaurant says it got an accusatory letter from lawyers for Arizona’s Heart Attack Grill, which specializes in fatty food with a “taste worth dying for.”
The March 29 missive alleged infringement of the medical-themed hamburger joint’s trademarks and “unequivocally threatened” legal action.

Tribute to a Deli Lover

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011


A lot of you have probably been wondering where I’ve been for the past month and a half. Unfortunately, my father in law was quite sick and passed away just over a week ago. Now that I’ve emerged from the mountain of babka and bagels we call “shiva week”, I wanted to pay tribute to him briefly here.

Howard Malach was a deli lover to the core. He grew up with Moe Pancer’s and others in north Toronto, and spread his love to Center Street, Caplansky’s, 2nd Ave Deli, Schwartz’s, Ben’s, and many more. He loved to fress. I’ll always remember him, oohing and ahhing over the chopped liver at the 2nd Ave Deli a few years ago, as How and my brother in law and I feasted one shabbat.

My relationship with Howard really blossomed at the end, but before that, we could always communicate through food and deli. He was there at the launch parties for Save the Deli in New York and Toronto, video camera in one hand, a sandwich or latke in the other.

In the past month of his life, as eating became a minor miracle, it broke my heart when he’d light up at something I brought him. In Florida, where he spent the winter, he was living on a very restricted diet, and had no appetite, when we went to a deli for a talk I was giving. “I’m just going to take a bit of coleslaw, for a shmeck,” he said, but as soon as he hit the buffet, his plate started filling with corned beef, pastrami, pickles, and potato salad. He tore into that sandwich, the last he’d ever devour, with a huge grin on his face (see pic above).

Less than two weeks later he was in the hospital, in much worse shape. After a week on fluids and pudding, he turned to me and asked for some real food “something to shmeck, to smell, even if I don’t eat it”. Over the next few days I ran out and got him everything he desired: cheeseburgers, milkshakes, Caplansky’s smoked meat poutine, whipped cream. One thing that remained constant was Vernor’s Ginger Ale, a deli staple to those in the Toronto-Detroit corridor. By his last two weeks, Vernor’s was all he ate. The bubbles felt good, it has a bracing, powerful flavor, but partially I think it also brought him back to the deli, to a place of love and safety and comfort, a taste of home.

Deli lovers, wherever you are, do How the honor, and pour out a Vernor’s for one of your own. We’ll miss you.

London’s Getting a Posh New Deli

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Hey there. Remember me? Yeah, I know it’s been a long time, but with Passover, life, cars crashing into delis, and Bin Laden getting in the way, I’ve been a bit lazy on these pages. But what are you gonna do…pay me? Exactly.

Still, I come bearing good news. At least for those of you across the pond in the Ole Blighty. Yes, the comedown from the Royal Wedding is still happening, but rest assured Londoners, there is reason to hope, because The Deli West One is launching soon.

Owner Alan Lee is promising a top notch, all class, properly done kosher delicatessen in Marylebone, West London, featuring smoked salmon, salami, pickles, coleslaw, bagels, and of course, salt beef.
Construction is still in progress, but you can follow them on facebook or twitter.

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