This post was first published as “Caplansky’s: A Kickin’ It Old Shul Delicatessen” on the Jew and the Carrot blog of The Forward.
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.
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© 2011 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.