The Numero Uno:
A few foods have occupied my "absolute favourite" slot over the years. But now, after having gotten to experience New York's finest, I don't really see the top spot changing. It turns out I am a massive fan of Salt Cured Beef. This includes Corned Beef, Pastrami and Montreal Smoked Meat. I can't remember the first time I enjoyed one of the culinary delights, but I do know when I was hooked. September 2007. Las Vegas. The Mirage Casino and Resort. The Carnegie Deli.
|First Las Vegas Carnegie Deli experience, 2007|
This was the first time I'd been to Vegas. My friends had been a couple times before and had hit the Carnegie Deli on the previous trip. It obviously had made a good impression as I'd heard tales of the giant sandwiches for a year. Perusing the menu it didn't take long for me to make a decision. My initial thought was "do I want Pastrami or Corned Beef?", but I soon discovered that both were within my reach. The "Woody Allen" is the Carnegie Deli's combo Corned Beef and Pastrami sandwich. It's massive. Not big. Massive. Even though I was told we were going to eat "Giant sandwiches", my feeble brain still didn't grasp just how big this thing was going to be. In fact, my friends went on and allowed me to order a side of coleslaw, french fries, and eat about 8 pickles, then laugh at me when the Woody Allen finally arrived at the table. Besides the size (no, I did not finish it, in fact I wasn't even close that first time, taking half back to the hotel), it tasted amazing. Perfection. Or at least what I thought at that point was cured meat perfection. That was the start of my journey to eat Corned Beef/Pastrami at as many deli's as possible.
Over the last 6 years I've gotten to travel to New York quite a bit. As excited as I get to do and see other things in the city, nothing excites me more than going to the deli's. Is this sad? I don't know, but damn the food is good. The original Carnegie Deli (7th avenue at 55th street) is better than Vegas (duh), although the sandwiches are actually slightly smaller. I've come to decide that the actual best thing at Carnegie is their Corned Beef. The Pastrami is still great, but if I'm not feeling like tackling the Woody Allen, and I can just choose one meat, at Carnegie it would be the Corned Beef.
|Katz's Deli Pastrami sandwich|
|Stage Deli cheesecake from my December 2010 visit|
|Schwartz's Deli, November 2010|
Another great Montreal spot is Dunn's. Lucky for us, Dunn's also has a few locations in Ottawa, a city I get to usually a couple times a year. My Ottawa trips need a Dunn's fix. I'll be there next week and will be coordinating a trip down.
What are your own favourite Deli's? Comment away.