Used to be my good friend Nancy would occasionally drop goodies off at my house, just because she was a good friend. Then she’d do it because we were neighbors. Now that we are colleagues, everything comes with a price tag. The price for the Puck Bunny leaving a care package in my fridge Sunday afternoon was this: “Well, you are going to blog about it.” Well, here I am, working for my dinner.
The suspicious package included a bomb. A belly bomb. I have no idea how much corned beef was piled on the two pieces of rye bread in the styrofoam box, but it was definitely more than the recommended daily allowance. The first box included the sandwich, two pickles (one sour, one half-sour) and a little side of cole slaw. Two words: Oy. Vey. And there ends my full understanding of Yiddish. If you’ve got words to describe “delicious,” “decadent,” “extremely-New Yorky”, please submit them in the comments. After the long hibernation in the fridge, I heated up the sandwich in the toaster oven because corned beef should be served warm. Only complaint: There were a couple of pockets of fat around the edge of the meat, but nothing that got in the way of scarfing down the sandwich. Pickles: Crisp, briny, garlicky. I prefer my pickles to be more on the sour side and the dark green sours were lip-smacking good. Cole-slaw: This ain’t your grammy’s cole slaw, unless you call your grammy “Bubbie.” Creamy and with a hint of sugar (that’s always been the secret for me). Don’t drown the cabbage and carrot in vinegar, but it should have a nice white sauce that’s both tangy and sweet. Like I said: Oy Vey!
For desert: I had the onion bagel with the lox and cream cheese plate Nancy left me. Look, Nancy’s a shiksa. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but she defintely got her milks and meats mixed up. Luckily when it comes to dietary laws, I’m as gentile as they come. First a disclaimer, finding good bagels in Dallas has been as difficult as finding a date (and for me, that’s nigh impossible). Einstein’s? Feh. They should be called “bagel rolls.” Whole Foods? Again with the rolls, only heavier than Einstein’s. Central Market? Getting closer. The bagel I had Sunday was a work of art. It had a substantial weight to it, which is important. It had enough crust on the outside to actually crack as you bit into it. It was an onion bagel – and land o’ goshen – with actual toasted onions on the outside (the last time I went to Einstein’s the “onion bagels” had some onion powder or something baked in the dough, but the outside was as plain as a prairie.
When I opened lox box, I found a heap of smooth, rich smoked salmon, moist and oily, but not fatty. It was accompanied by a little dish of capers, a dish of cream cheese, two slices of beautiful tomato (wasted entirely on me since I’m anti-tomatite), two perfect slices of red onion (not shaved, but not onion ring thickness either), a couple of cucumbers and two black olives. What more could I ask for? And when you put it all together, it tasted like Miami Beach. That’s a good thing. The delis of Miami Beach – the Rascal House, Wolfie’s, Pumpernick’s – that’s where I got my education in Jewish food. Dad brought home bagels from those places every weekend. It’s where I became a discriminating bagel-eater. No, I don’t have the same affinity for H&H Bagels in New York that many of you do, but I do appreciate a nice piece of boiled, then baked dough. This “appetizing” plate was as perfect as any I’ve ever had. Now a word of caution: You may find the bagel a little salty. I don’t mind. I like salt, but I did notice the flavor. And a final disclaimer: If you are a reasonably attractive gentile single female, you may eat this food and suddenly decide you want to find a nice Jewish boy and convert. In that case, call Nancy. Or my mother. They’ll both be happy to be “yentas” and play matchmaker.
But trust me on this: It’s good. Enjoy. Your all skin and bones anyway. Eat. Eat.