Saturday, December 15, 2012

It Started with a Loaf of Rye

We had visited an artisan bakery on University Avenue, and I purchased, among other goodies, a loaf of the bakery’s rye bread. So what goes with good bakery rye? Pastrami and chicken liver spread, of course. I had prepared the chicken livers, so all that was lacking was the pastrami. This meant a trip to a local Jewish deli and restaurant—D.Z. Akin’s. And while we are there, why not have breakfast?
“D.Z. Akin’s, a name synonymous with New York-style Jewish deli…remains one of the most beloved delicatessen/bakeries in town. Although the deli has undergone a few changes over the past decade, there is no skimping on the old family recipes.

“’We refurbished the outside a few years ago, but we were in the middle of a recession so we couldn’t get to the inside,’ said Debi Akin, co-founder of the family-owned eatery. ‘We wanted to keep the prices down and the quality up, even though our costs were rising. We couldn’t pass the increases on to our customers when everyone was feeling the recession.’
“…Of course, the reason D.Z. Akin’s is a local landmark is not because of its changes, but because of its consistency and high quality cuisine…The menu abounds with Jewish delicacies, including corned beef, pastrami, tongue and an assortment of smoked fish. But that’s just the beginning. Breakfast is served all day long, and D.Z.’s features blintzes and matzo brei, along with the usual variety of eggs, omelets, waffles and hot cakes…” (Eileen Sondak
As is the case with most Jewish delis, the menu is long with standard diner breakfast fare along with Jewish specialties. I was about to order the Potato Latkes (pancakes) which came with either sour cream or applesauce, but at the last minute changed my mind and chose the scrambled lox and eggs and onions. But now I had more choices to make. Home fried potatoes, cottage cheese, freshly sliced tomatoes, or fresh fruit cup? Toast, roll, bagel or muffin? Butter or cream cheese and preserves? It would be home fries with a bagel and cream cheese.

Let me start by saying that Akin’s portions are large. Very large. My plate held a very large serving of beautifully scrambled eggs that were bursting with big chunks of nicely smoked salmon.
But half of the onions would have sufficed. At times their flavor became intrusive.

Chuck ordered the egg bread (challah) French toast, a side of home fries, and a bagel with cream cheese. “That’s a lot of food.” our server said.

“He’s a lot of man.” was my reply. To use a phraise of Guy Fieri’s, his French toast was “off the hook.”
There is something about the texture of challah that makes the perfect French toast.

But neither of us was enamored with Akin’s version of home fries. While they had decent flavor that received a boost from a small (unlike my eggs) amount of onion, I thought they were soggy as if some liquid had been poured over them while they were cooking on the flattop. Neither of us finished our portions and I took them home were they languished in the refrigerator for a couple of days. And I decided if I didn’t like them then, I wasn’t going to like them now and into they trash they went.

Well, breakfast had some hits (Chuck’s French toast) and some misses (the home fries) and only merits 3.0 Addies. But now it is time to go shopping in the front retail area with the walls covered by photos of celebrities who have dined at Akins.
If you look carefully, you’ll see Tony Danza, Shecky Green, and Alex Trebek.

As tempting as they looked, we decided to pass on the cookies and cakes.

But we liked our breakfast bagels and took a half dozen home with us.
Don’t we need some potato salad to go with our hot pastrami and chicken liver on rye sandwiches? Yes, we do.
And doesn’t this look just like the giardiniara served at Gaglione Brothers (makers of fabulous Philadelphia cheesesteaks not far away)? I need a bottle of that.

And while we were shopping, Kitty Humbug made a new friend.
To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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