depending on what part of the country we are visiting.
Strictly speaking, “(d)elicatessen is a term meaning ‘delicacies’ or ‘fine foods.’ In English, ‘delicatessen’ originally meant only this specially prepared food. In time, the delicatessen store where this food was sold came to be called a delicatessen, and in this sense is often abbreviated to deli.
“Delicatessens can come from a variety of cultural traditions. In the United States, many are Jewish delicatessens, both kosher and ‘kosher style.’ As a result of this, Americans refer to those that specialize in Italian and German cuisine as ‘European Delicatessens.’ In Seattle, the term ‘deli’ is often used to indicate take-out restaurants mainly serving Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches, particularly in Little Saigon and the University District (wikipedia.org).
But to us, “deli” can only mean a Northeast-style Jewish deli with meats piled high on rye bread,
“Archie's Deli is owned and run by the Wright family from Detroit, who are not Jewish but grew up eating great deli food in the Midwest, where they were in the restaurant business for many years. A few years back, they moved to Phoenix and opened a deli at 59th Avenue and Thunderbird, which they closed when they moved to Surprise…
There is a separate menu heading for “Jewish Style Food” that included: Potato Latkes with applesauce and/or sour cream; Noodle Kugel—a traditional Jewish pudding of egg noodles, cream cheese, sour cream, and a hint of vanilla; Blintzes—two crepes filled with farm cheese that’s blended with honey, vanilla, and apricot preserves and served with sour cream and preserves; and the deli’s take on knishes made with puff pastry in potato, veggie, meat, and kasha varieties.
Finally we arrived at a plan. Chuck would order the Berman’s Sure Choice with corned beef, Swiss cheese, coleslaw, and Russian dressing on rye bread.
Both of our sandwiches came on flavorful seeded (caraway) rye that was, in my opinion, a bit too soft. I like my rye to be hardier and chewier, like that served in the East. The pastrami on my Don’s had a good quotient of fat that rendered out some juice. But the meat itself fell a bit flat. I didn’t have that “perfumy” (my term) essence that come with a great pastrami. And what about the chicken livers? They were not, as described by Nikki Buchanan at azcentra.com “all it should be: rich, smooth and slightly grainy.” Grainy? Yes. Dry? Very much so. This added nothing to the sandwich.
The highlight of the meal was the wonderful corned beef in Chuck’s Berman’s Sure Choice. I’m not sure if you could find better in most New York City Jewish delis. Chris at bonappetit.com wrote that at its best, corned beef should be tender, moist, not at all salty, bursting with subtle spice, and deliciously robust…” We later learned that Archie’s doesn’t brine and cook (or smoke in the case of the pastrami) the corned beef but rather gets it from a distributor in New Jersey. (And Archie’s also sells an array of cut-to-order deli meats from Dietz & Watson in Philadelphia.)
To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.