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|December 11-17, 2008
• The Chilean treasure
Spice things up with merken
by Maricel E. Presilla
The search for Boulder’s Big Apple
Jimmy and Drew’s 28th Street Deli takes a shot at authenticity
by Clay Fong
I enjoyed the best sandwich I ever had while in high school. It was during an afternoon acting workshop, situated above a traditional San Francisco Jewish deli, and I was starving. As mouth-watering aromas of hot corned beef and chicken soup wafted through the window, our teacher pressed us for ideas regarding our angst-ridden interpretation of Alice in Wonderland. I was at the top of my game, coming up with bizarre yet well-received ideas involving gratuitous interpretative dance displays.
These suggestions had nothing to do with artistic inspiration; I just wanted to placate the instructor, get the heck out of there, and mercilessly devour a heaping hot pastrami on rye, shot through with warm melted Swiss. At long last, class ended. Within moments, my wish was granted as I savored the apex of the sandwich maker’s art, featuring smoked meat piled high enough to dislocate my young jaw.
As the deli of my youth has gone horribly downhill, I’ve spent the rest of my life seeking an equivalent sandwich. Sadly, such traditional New York-style fare is in short supply on the Front Range. However, Jimmy and Drew’s 28th Street Deli is one of the few places where one can indulge in classic choices like latkes and chopped liver. Specialties such as these beckoned Teresa and I for a late lunch in the diner-like atmosphere of this venue.
We started with $3.50 half bowls of chicken soup that came off a bit bland. But this mildness also would make this selection a comforting restorative for someone feeling under the weather, or seeking a simple pick-me-up. Teresa, who once toiled at the old New York Deli on Pearl, opted for noodles and rice in her bowl. My matzo ball version included a dense yet tender dumpling with a fluffy texture. For the taxonomists keeping score at home, this was definitely a sinker and not a floater.
Corned beef and pastrami are my two yardsticks for measuring a deli. One admires the chutzpah in replacing the rye with potato pancakes in the $9 Jimmy’s Favorite, an update of the classic Reuben. Unfortunately, the latkes were more limp than crisp, and the corned beef’s heavily salted flavor would have been balanced out by the distinctive taste of rye. More melted Swiss would have added needed creaminess. While this revisited Reuben is conceptually appealing, the execution could use a little more work.
Teresa had more success on the hot pastrami front. Her choice, the $9 Bubie sandwich, also included turkey, muenster, pickle and cole slaw. The pickles and slaw also provided a crisp contrast to the brisket and poultry’s tenderness. Her estimation was that the meat wasn’t piled as high as it might have been in the New York Deli’s heyday, but that it still scored high on the taste quotient, with hints of smoke and fatty goodness.
If you visit Jimmy and Drew’s expecting a sandwich identical to those found at the Carnegie Deli or my childhood ideal, you’ll leave disappointed. In this establishment’s defense, some of the shortcomings are attributable to the fact that access to top-quality deli ingredients is limited around here. Jimmy and Drew’s still does an acceptable job with what’s locally available. “It’s not like a deli in New York or San Francisco,” pointed out Teresa, “but it’s still good fattening comfort food.”
Clay’s obscurity corner
If there’s a family tree of traditional deli sandwich meats, corned beef and pastrami are close siblings. Both start out as beef brisket cured in a brine of coarse salt and other seasonings. “Corned” refers to the chunks of salt used in the brining process. These large granules bear a visual resemblance to corn kernels, although some argue that the old English definition of corn originally referred to a small, hard particle like a sodium crystal. Perhaps that’s to be taken with a grain of salt. What primarily distinguishes pastrami from corned beef is that pastrami is smoked after brining.
Jimmy and Drew’s 28th Street Deli
2855 28th St., Boulder, 303-447-3354
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