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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Katz's Delicatessen

     When Harry met Sally, she taught him a stern lesson on feminine wiles that none of us will ever forget, and it happened right here!
     Katz's, down on the Lower East side of Manhattan, is the oldest delicatessen in NYC (est. 1888), and it reminds me in some ways of a high school cafeteria. It's chaotic, a bit grungy and there's no time for personalized attention. I have to say I enjoyed the quick, terse exchange with the man at the counter when placing my order, but if you don't care for the no-nonsense New Yorkers or you don't know how it all works, you can get pushed, shoved and swallowed up in this place.
     When you arrive, two bouncers greet you politely and hand you a ticket on which your life now depends. As you place your orders at the different counters, the servers behind them write down the prices of your items. If you get to the cashier without your ticket after you've eaten, the Kat'z SWAT team (the bouncers) will block your exit and conduct a body cavity search, I think.
     My husband likes quality cold meats, and I had spent several weeks prior to our trip selling him on the idea of trying Pastrami for the first time! (crazy, right?) When we arrived in New York, he was still not sold on rye bread, but turns out Katz's uses a 'light rye', a milder version of the original. If you are able to find the slices of bread lost in the colossal amount of meat, the combination is quite good. And oh, the meat!  I've never been a Pastrami lover, but after stealing a taste, I can't forget the endless moist, pink thick slices beckoning from Hubby's plate. And they don't serve the sandwich with the token pickle on the side; it's a plate with an assortment of pickles on the side. I had a field day!
     Once I was done picking at my husband's plate, I dug into my whole wheat bagel with cream cheese and lox. Seems like an ordinary thing to order but this is a habit I can't break when I visit a Jewish deli. I wish I had broken it on this occasion. It was good enough, but the lox was not of the best quality, I'm disappointed to say.
     In my desire to expose hubby to wider cuisine horizons, I ordered Blintzes for us to share. Again, they were ok, but somehow they were missing something. The thin pancakes were perfectly cooked, brown in all the right places and with that oh! so subtle hint of crispiness. They were stuffed with uninteresting cheese that couldn't make its mind whether to be lumpy or smooth. I had to ask for sour cream. Really? I also thought they could have shown a little more love with a fruit jam of some kind.
     John said it best: "Glad we visited; now we can check it off the list." Back to Carnegie Deli.

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