I once spent a full summer driving about North America on a quest for the best smoked meat and pastrami. In fact, I would not exist if it were not for Ben’s smoked meat – my parents courted in the rafters of the Montreal Forum, eating smoked meat sandwiches for lunch while watching the Rocket and the Pocket practice.
IMHO, by far the best smoked meat is from Schwartz’s in Montreal, while the best pastrami is from Moe Pancer’s in Toronto (but their smoked meat is a bit too salty).
If you don’t happen to visit either of these cities, keep your eye out for Lester’s smoked meat and pastrami in delis in the USA and Canada – although not in the same league as Schwartz’s or Moe Pancer’s, it’s quite good, and a lot better than most products out there.
BTW, for Canuks in the wilderness and a few markets in the US, the President’s Choice line now includes smoked meat – I don’t know who makes it, but it tastes like Lesters.
Because it probably is. There are only three places in the Montreal area that makes smoked meat : previously mentioned Schwarz’s, Quebec smokesd meat and some place in Mascouche that makes industrial smoked meat (probably Lester’s or Coorsh or something like that)
However, KneadtoKnow, I urge you to take the plunge on the 'kraut on a Reuben. You’ll probably love it, like I did most of the different foods I’ve been able to try since leaving the limited food opportunities of a small town in the South for the international flavors of New York City.
I read the blurb about his book. I’ll try to find the book and read it. But, he makes a few errors, at least to me, that makes him suspect.
When he says “If New York delis are as intimate and familiar as your bubbe’s kitchen, then Los Angeles delis, with their spacious banquettes, polite wait staff and abundant parking, are like younger, sexier spokesmodels for the deli world,” then that’s suspect right there. Polite wait staff in a Deli? He’s meshuggeneh. That’s half the experience. Again, to me. Probably not to you.
I’ve eaten in the West Coast versions–Nate and Al’s, Canter’s, Factor’s. All very good. Very authentic.
I’ve eaten in Carnegie, 2nd Ave. and a few others in NYC. Still the tops for me. I’ll be making a run to both cities late next year. I’ll report back.
I got a rueben last week at a deli that I hadn’t been to before. I ordered it takeout and they asked if I wanted cole slaw, and I said sure, I love coleslaw! When I got it home, I realized that they meant coleslaw instead of kraut, not on the side. Ack! Not good. Reubens are corned beef/pastrami, kraut, swiss cheese and russian/thousand island dressing. Coleslaw belongs next to the sandwich, not on it.
This thread inspired me to go out Thursday night and get the makings for pastrami sandwiches; I haven’t tasted pastrami since I was a child. I had pastrami and swiss on rye, with coleslaw. It was delicious. . . . and it triggered my first ever migraine headache.