We recently took a trip back home to Long Island, NY. I guess we should now call it our previous home, to attend a few family events. On the flight we discussed what we missed the most food wise and what flavors we wanted to discover all over again. The most obvious delectable we discussed was pizza. Pizza, we decided, would definitely be consumed on this trip but to really go deep into Flavatown, we need to plan an additional trip for this mass undertaking. And since we do have the number 2 rated pizzeria in the U.S., here in our new home of St. Augustine, our palates are sufficed at the present time. We will tackle the specific subject of pizza in Florida in the near future.
Now, back to the in-flight conversation. After a HIS and HER opinion debate, it was decided that we needed to have a pastrami sandwich and a knish. We determined that these two classic New York food items are definitely a challenge to get in most places across the country. I know one can go to their local supermarket deli and get pastrami by the pound and a box of frozen knishes but I’m talking about the real deal pastrami & knish.
A brief rundown on pastrami:
New York’s Sussman Volk claimed to produce the first pastrami sandwich in the US back in 1887. Volk, a kosher butcher and New York immigrant from Lithuania, got the recipe from a Romanian friend in exchange for storing the friend’s luggage while the friend was away. It was so flavorful and inspiring that he focused on developing the classic sandwich and as a result some say created the first deli in NYC.
Pastrami was originally created as a way to preserve meat before the days of refrigeration. Nowadays pastrami is an everyday trip to Flavatown. The raw meat, typically a beef brisket, is brined & cured with salt. It is usually a salt with a mix of sodium nitrite to give the final product its nice expected pink color. The brisket is then partially dried, seasoned (rubbed) with herbs and spices which assists in the nice flavorful crusty bark, then smoked. Prior to slicing it is steamed. The Steaming process is an all important step as the steam tends to break down the fat and connective tissue to provide a nice jiggle and a melt in your mouth texture and flavor encounter. One of our favorite commercial brands is Hebrew National.
Webster defines a knish as a small round or square of dough stuffed with a filling (as potato) and baked or fried. We just define it as being really, really good. When prepared correctly if you tap it with a knife or fork, it should be crusty and emit a soft thump. A piping hot knish with a nice spicy brown mustard is one of life’s most underrated pleasures.
Sorry to digress. Our establishment of choice for this re-discovery, Pastrami N Friends. Located in Commack, NY. They quote themselves as "A Little Bit of Brooklyn", and it did not disappoint. From the starters of the incredible tart, sweet and crunchy house made cole slaw to the both half sour and full sour pickles to the incredible sammys, we were in heaven. He had a Pastrami with cole slaw and Russian dressing on rye. Incredibly soft, tender, packed with flavor and just simply delish! She had a classic of Pastrami on rye with brown mustard. A simple decision, but she described it as "the best pastrami sandwich eva". The knish was piping hot, crusty and oh so good. With a schmear of brown mustard, I felt as if I was transported back in time to game 6 of the 1986 world series, where I enjoyed a push cart knish as my amazing Mets pulled off a miracle. Pastrami N Friends has been in business for 40 years and they know what they're doing for sure. Should you find yourself on Long Island looking for your own trip to Flavatown, check out Pastrami N Friends. Fahgettaboudit!