Wednesday, August 30, 2006

On the Hunt for some New York Soul Food

Footnote to the Boar's Head marketing department on that one- I never thought about it as such, but it seems so elementary. Pastrami and Corned Beef definitely qualify as New York Soul Food. Places like Katz's and the Second Avenue Deli (RIP) are staples to the NYC diet. They provide a real comfort meal that is tough to find once you venture off the Isle of Man(hattan), if you expect even a minimal amount of quality and flavor. When I started working in LA, I knew that I would have to find something to keep the tastebuds happy. I read about a place called Langer's on a few websites and figured I had to try it.

I could not have been happier. I stepped in and immediately felt at home- from the long counter and the red vinyl booths to the smells coming from the deli counter; everything was dead on. I immediately sat down, looked at the huge menu, and wiped a joyful tear from the corner of my eye.

The menu was filled with delights I haven't seen since before I migrated to the West. I hardly knew where to begin. As a newcomer to the area, I took the suggestion of the sign I saw coming in. I ordered the #19 (Pastrami, Swiss, and Russian, with Cole Slaw on the sandwich) on what I sincerely hoped would be a decent rye bread (I have had a hard time finding good bread, being as spoiled as I am from the last three decades of so many carbohydrate options) and a Dr Browns Black Cherry as a chaser.
The plate hit the table and if appearances meant anything, I was definitely in the right place. The meat was piled high, in an even spread across the bread. The juices of the Cole Slaw dribbled enticingly down the side, begging to be licked away.

The first bite assured me that I was right. The Pastrami was perfect- tasty, flavorful, not overly salted, and just enough fat to keep it tender(Pastrami was never really meant to be eaten "extra-lean", no matter what your doctor tells you). The sweet-spicy Cole Slaw only enhanced the levels of taste. And the bread.... oh the bread.... was that a crunch I detected as I took that first bite from the edge? I had to take a second bite off the other edge to be sure. Eureka! Nirvana! Heaven! I had finally found what I had searched for over the past year or so that I was here: a bread that was soft on the inside and had a crisp crust on the outside. The bread was perfect.

Now, before any of my NYC brethren come out here with a baseball bat, I am not drawing comparisons to Katz's Pastrami... like a good parent, I can love them both. Besides, unless I had a side by side, freshly made sandwich from each, it would be tough to call. Hey, look- I'm from NY so Katz's will always be at the top of my list, it's special to me like everything else in that Great City is. But I don't get the option of a Katz's sandwich here (I've called, and no way they'll deliver a sandwich here). In LA, Langer's is number one in the Pastrami department. 'Cause Johnny Tomatoes says so.

Langer's Delicatessen
704 South Alvarado
Los Angeles


nettreefrog said...

So the real question is --what else is on menu? Do they have matzoh ball soup, brisket, or knishes?

And maybe its me --in NYC--but isn't there something just special about sending a salami to your loved one? Check out: --> I sent my grandfather and father some meat a few years ago. Their response? "What a wonderful and tasty idea!"

Johnny Tomatoes said...

I would love to tell you more about the menu at Langer's, but it will have to wait until I can get back there- tough, considering their early closing time. I've been there a couple of times and I am always so consumed by the idea of having that perfect Pastrami on that delectable rye, that I have neglected the rest of the menu. Promise to update you as I get more information.

And re: Send a Salami to your boy in the Army- I agree, there is absolutely something very loving about sending someone good food in the mail- always a beutiful thing.