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December 14, 2011

Herring and Deli Revival in DC (and apologies from me)

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It’s been a shamefully long time since I’ve written here. Scandalously, really. Hence the sad dog photo.

Two big reasons why:

1. I’ve been away the whole past month in South America. Yes, I had internet access, and yes I could have written something, but it was sunny, and lovely, and there was steak (Argentina), and beach (Brazil), and you can follow the conclusion from there.

2. I’ve become admittedly lazy about the blog. I’ve been writing this for close to five years, based around the research, writing, and promotion of the book, and since then, as my life has moved away from the book, I’ve moved away from the blog. That’s just me, but it doesn’t mean that the community built here is any less passionate. If you want daily updates, conversation, photos, and debate, head over to the Save the Deli facebook page, which is a 1400+ strong group of deli lovers who are keeping the flame alive. This doesn’t mean I won’t be writing here anymore, but I’ll certainly be doing it less than regularly.

Still…some things to discuss today.

First off, the always excellent Joan Nathan writes today about a bit of a herring revival in the Times.

“What used to be food for Jewish grandfathers, particularly on holidays like Hanukkah, which starts next Tuesday night, is showing up on the menus of restaurants both hip and elegant.

Herring with wasabi and yuzu kosho paste is one of the haute Jewish dishes at Kutsher’s Tribeca. Benoit and Brasserie Julien both serve French smoked herring with potatoes. A notable dish at the dearly departed M. Wells in Queens was smoked herring Caesar salad.”

Hells yes! Who doesn’t love herring (a few people, but really they haven’t had the good stuff).

Now, speaking of Mrs. Nathan, she’s consulted on a new deli that’s going to open in DC, which falls into the roots deli movement that’s slowly, sustainably, sweeping across the nation. From DC’s Washingtonian magazine:

Barry Koslow, who was the chef at Mendocino Grille and, more recently, at Tallula, is set to open DGS Delicatessen next summer, just south of Dupont Circle (1317 Connecticut Ave., NW) with his partners, Nick and David Wiseman of Roadside Food Projects. (The name DGS is meant to honor the District Grocery Stores cooperative—a band of Jewish-owned mom ’n’ pops—that thrived in the city at the turn of the 20th century.)

The trio—DC natives all—describes the forthcoming venture in terms that allow for a good bit of wiggle room, lest the culinarily orthodox (and the other kind, as well) accuse them of taking too many liberties.

“We want to evoke nostalgia for the classic delicatessen while bringing technique into the mix to elevate these dishes and take things to another level,” says Koslow.

Technique is a word almost synonymous with Koslow’s name. The classically trained chef worked in a French vein for many years, and his pistachio-studded rabbit pâté, a dish he reprised at Tallula after leaving Mendocino Grille, was among the glories of the area’s food scene.

At DGS, the corned beef and pastrami will be made on the premises, “brined for a week in aromatics and steamed properly,” Koslow says.

Good for DC. Washington may have problems beyond repair (like, the whole stewardship of the nation gambit), but at least it’s likely to get some great deli in the meanwhile.

I’ll be back for Channukah…I promise.

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