For decades I have been fascinated by the big city. On a typical visit to New York, I take the subway from JFK to my hotel in Manhattan, and with camera in hand I immediately immerse myself into this street photographer’s paradise. New York City has it all. It has the hustle and bustle of the business districts, the flavor of the neighborhoods, the majesty of the architecture and skylines, the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center and the Rockefeller Center, the landmarks, parks, museums and zoos, the subways and buses, the street vendors and taxi drivers, cultural diversity and an extensive range of local and international cuisine. And without question, New York is blessed with many excellent delis.
2nd Ave. Deli
I have visited 2nd Ave. Deli on a number of occasions. It is always a great spot for an outstanding deli meal. On this visit I was greeted by Steve Cohen, the manager. I have enjoyed many of their delicious menu items, including chicken soup, chopped liver, gefilte fish and, of course, pastrami on rye.
There are only a handful of delis at which pastrami is presented as nothing short of an art form. Katz's Delicatessen, located at 205 East Houston Street, is one of them. Order a sandwich from the deli man at the counter and he will take the cut of pastrami right out of the steamer and hand carve the pastrami for your sandwich. The slices of pastrami are stacked high on rye bread, and the steam from the meat adds just the right touch of moisture to the bread. On this visit I had the pleasure of speaking with Jake Dell, the third generation Dell family member in charge of Katz's Delicatessen. A trip to New York is incomplete without a stop at Katz's for an outstanding pastrami sandwich.
Yonah Schimmel's Knish Bakery
After having a sandwich at Katz's it was time for dessert. So I walked just a block or two west to Yonah Schimmel's Knish Bakery, located at 137 East Houston Street. I had - you guessed it - a potato knish, served to me by Yonah's great nephew and manager, Alex Wolfman. The knishes are baked in the basement and brought up to the store level by a dumbwaiter. It is my understanding that this "institution" has the same decor as it did in 1910 when it opened at this location.
Mile End Delicatessen
Not more than an hour after leaving Yonah Schimmel's, I received a text from my friend, Seth Front, creator of the Jewish Zodiac. He insisted that I visit the Mile End Delicatessen and have Montreal style "smoked meat," a north of the border variation of pastrami. I immediately headed directly to Mile End's Manhattan location. As this was the first time I experienced "smoked meat," my server, a very upbeat and enthusiastic young lady, suggested that I have a sandwich with both the leaner and fattier cuts of meat. This delicious "smoked meat" sandwich was a perfect follow up to my "pastrami & knish" lunch and a perfect mid-afternoon snack before my Italian dinner.