Archive for February, 2011

Kickin’ It Old Shul

February 28, 2011

This post was first published as “Caplansky’s: A Kickin’ It Old Shul Delicatessen” on the Jew and the Carrot blog of The Forward.

Zane Caplansky at Caplansky's Delicatessen (photo by Ed Pond)

When Torontonian Zane Caplansky was 16 years old, his then-girlfriend, who was from Montreal, introduced him to the smoked meat of the famed Schwartz’s Delicatessen. Caplansky broke up with that girlfriend many years ago, but his devotion to good deli has been abiding. “My love affair with smoked meat has been long lasting,” he declared.

Now 42, Caplansky, who opened his eponymous Caplansky’s Delicatessen in downtown Toronto a year and a half ago, has wedded his name and reputation to his own version of cured and smoked beef brisket. Not to be confused with corned beef (the pickled and boiled brisket for which Toronto is traditionally known), Montreal smoked meat is more like pastrami — the main difference being that the former is made from brisket and the latter from the tougher navel cut.

Located on a busy corner in Kensington Market, once home to the city’s Jewish immigrants in the early part of the last century, there is no mistaking you are in an authentic delicatessen at Caplansky’s. If the original terrazzo floor, white tiled counters and simple wood tables and chairs don’t tip you off, then the strong smell of meat being smoked that hits you as you enter will. Caplansky’s is the only delicatessen in Toronto that makes its own smoked meat (Montreal-style or otherwise), and it is delicious. You almost don’t have to chew it, as the lean, tender slices almost melt in your mouth in a taste explosion in which the salty and smoky notes can be separately discerned.

Click here to read more.

© 2011 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Flash Mob For Foodies

February 16, 2011

This article was first published as “The pop-up market: Like a rave for foodies” in The Globe and Mail.

Artisanal breads made by Mike Zakowski ("The Bekjr") of Sonoma, California - available at The Pop-Up General Store

It’s like a flash mob for foodies, a rave for rarefied tastes. Connoisseurs of artisanal comestibles, summoned by e-mails, tweets and Facebook status updates, are descending by the hundreds on the Pop-Up General Store, a moveable feast of high-end treats that’s open only sporadically and for a mere two hours at a time, location and day to be announced.

At a recent one held in a converted streetcar depot in Oakland, Calif., Samin Nosrat and Christopher Lee moved energetically among the vendors of the organic, natural and sustainably sourced food and the crowds of customers. The two chefs, major names in the San Francisco Bay Area restaurant scene, started this pop-up market on a whim a year ago and have seen it explode in size and popularity.

A hipster response to the current economic recession, fuelled by social-media networking, the underground food scene – of which Ms. Nosrat and Mr. Lee’s project is part – is akin to other recent urban phenomena such as guerrilla gardening, free-cycling, guerrilla knitting and bike-in disposable film festivals.

Click here to read more.

© 2011 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

A Revolutionary Voice

February 11, 2011

The latest news from Egypt is that President Hosni Mubarak has stepped down. There is jubilation in the streets…over what appears to be a military coup.

To add to the celebration, here is the music of Leila Mourad (1918-1995), a famous Jewish-Egyptian singer (who at a certain point reportedly converted to Islam). In 1953, Mourad was apparently chosen – over Umm Kulthum – as the official singer of the Egyptian revolution. The other Egyptian revolution, that is.

© 2011 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.