Monday, February 29, 2016

Kosher Ish

Every once in a while (make that every once in a great while), I get the urge to eat some real kosher deli. Of course, I could just walk up to Katz's Deli, or head up to the 2nd Avenue Deli, but Katz's isn't really kosher and the 2nd Avenue Deli isn't really on 2nd Avenue (in either of its damn locations), so that knocks them out.

For a number of years I'd heard and read about a couple of far-flung kosher delis in the Bronx - though we'd never been to any of them. So this past weekend Significant Eater and I took a road trip; there were 2 delis I had in mind, located within 10 minutes of one another - Loeser's Old Fashioned Kosher Deli and Liebman's Delicatessen.

Now I'm not gonna get into a whole discussion about kosher and the laws which govern kashruth - it would take a few battling rabbis and other scholarly types, with way more knowledge than this lapsed Jew, to do that discussion justice. Suffice to say that I was surprised, when checking out the two Bronx delis for their hours of operation, that both are open on Saturday...the Jewish day of rest. Evidently, pastrami and corned beef rest for no man, though Loeser's is closed on Sundays - go figure. So, we ended up here...
Liebman's Menu
At any real Jewish deli, your waitperson will always bring to your table (if it's not already on your table) a little snack. An antipasto or hors d'oeuvre, if you will. And Liebman's doesn't skimp on those...
Cole Slaw and Pickles
The pickles were just fine, nice and sour. The cole slaw you shouldn't know from (look at that barely wilted cabbage) - let's just say my cole slaw kicks its ass.

But our goal was to try some other dishes from the Jewish deli canon; in this case, we ordered kishka (aka stuffed derma) with gravy, because it you tried to eat this stuff without gravy, they'd have to perform the Heimlich maneuver on you. Even with gravy, we're talking some ummmmm, heavy, dry food - the stuff that my ancestors existed on - when they weren't being raped by Cossacks. Then there was the latke (aka potato pancake), which didn't measure up to mine or my Bronx grandmother's; grandma could make a boatload of delicious latkes in her small kitchen, without any food processor bullshit - one of the few things she cooked while we'd actually stand around the stove (otherwise, you wanted to be as far out of her reach as possible).

But truth be told, we were really here for the meat. While I'm a fan of all the potential meats in a Jewish deli, including tongue, Significant Eater turns up her, well, nose, at tongue. So we decided on the 2-meat combo - pastrami and corned beef, on rye...
Half Sandwich
And how did it stack up? The pastrami had nice flavor (milder than what I enjoy, but Sig Eater liked the spice), and was too lean for my liking; when I go to Katz's, I generally order "moist" pastrami; in the case of pastrami, moist means fatty, the deckle portion of the cut. And the corned beef, to be honest, was a little bland and dry. But hey, the rye bread was nice and fresh, so the sandwich had that going for it.

Am I glad we went? Yeah, sure. Will we head back to the Bronx for more pastrami? Perhaps - but next time to try Loeser's.

Oh - a few week ago I was out in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn...
My Brisket House Pastrami Sandwich
Where I got to try the pastrami at My Brisket House. Nothing kosher about this joint at all, but guess what? The pastrami was better than Liebman's. And the rye bread - feh.