Posted in Notable Nosh

Notable Nosh: Dunn’s Famous Smoked Meat Sandwich

Dunn's Smoked Meat 1

Many years ago, before I started writing this blog, I made something of a culinary pilgrimage to the justly famous Schwartz’s Deli in Montreal for one of their celebrated Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwiches, a specialty which is very much he spiritual cousin of the sort of Pastrami on Rye you find in traditional Hebrew Delicatessens in New York.

Now, for years, I have been frequenting Dunn’s Famous Deli at its location on Dalhousie Street in Ottawa. It is located just two blocks from the hotel I usually stay in and they do a great breakfast special, so I usually will visit at least once on any given trip to the capital. They also, however, do a Smoked Meat Sandwich special that they advertise as being ‘World Famous’. I always took this claim with a grain of salt, and was thus far not tempted, but then I learned that Dunn’s got their start in Montreal way back in 1927, and, apparently, was something as a rival to Schwartz’s. Accordingly, I decided to put their sandwich to the test…

As you can see, the platter, which comes with a ‘bottomless’ soft drink, and sells for only $16.99, is pretty substantial, and includes, in addition to the well stacked sandwich, hand cut fries, coleslaw and a pickle. The pickle is, well… a pickle, but the coleslaw (a simple, vinegar dressed type) is pretty decent. The fries are very thick and cooked the way you get them in an English Fish and Chip shop, that is to say, not especially crispy. This won’t appeal to all but I like them this way and they were just fine with nothing but salt and vinegar.

Now the sandwich… It really was worth the visit. I am not a big fan of rye, but it us essential here and the Dunn’s variety is very nice and the meat stack high enough to be filling but still easy to eat. For those not familiar, Montreal style smoked meat is, like Pastrami, a cured beef that is spiced and hot smoked. The smoking, however, is quite light and you don’t tend to get a heavy smokiness like you do with, say, southern BBQ. What you do get, at least in Dunn’s product, is a lovely aromatic flavor of freshly cracked black pepper and coriander seed. The cut is less fatty than I recall the Schwartz’s as being, but it still managed to be nicely juicy. All in all, it was a very nice sandwich and, though it must be at least 10 years to my visit to Schwartz’s, I think this was better….

Posted in Recipes

The Celebrated Reuben Sandwich

Reuben Sandwich 1

History is a little bit fuzzy as to the ‘Reuben’ of Reuben Sandwich fame. Some say it refers to one Reuben Kulakofsky, who made the first sandwich for some poker buddies, one of whom owned a hotel in Omaha, Nebraska and later put the sandwich on the restaurant menu. Others claim that the sandwich is named after Arnold Reuben who was the owner of the now defunct ‘Reuben’s Delicatessen’ in New York and supposedly created the specialty. Either way, it appears to have originated sometime during the first couple of decades of the last century and is now a genuine classic.

As with everything culinary, there are variations on the basic theme but the original essentially consisted of Corned Beef on Rye with Swiss cheese, Sauerkraut and Russian dressing. Nowadays, the Russian dressing is almost always replaced with Thousand Island dressing (which is somewhat similar) and one can pretty much say that this is now a classic part of the sandwich. Today, but for a few tiny changes, I am going to be adhering pretty closely to the original…  Continue reading “The Celebrated Reuben Sandwich”

Posted in Notable Nosh

Notable Nosh: The Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich

Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich

A hefty Montreal-style Smoked Meat Sandwich is something of a classic Canadian culinary experience (at least in the eastern half of the country, that is). For those unfamiliar with the product, the smoked meat in question is a Kosher beef cut that is brined or dry-rubbed with various spices, especially coriander, and then slow-smoked before being piled high on sandwich bread (usually rye) and slathered with mustard to make a thick, filling sandwich. Montreal Smoked Meat is very much like the more familiar Pastrami, except that is generally made from the brisket as opposed to other (arguably lesser) cuts and is a bit less heavy on the sugar during preparation. A sandwich made from it is, therefore, very much a close cousin to the famous New-York deli favorite known as a ‘Pastrami on Rye’…

The spiritual home for the Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich is Schwart’s, a shotgun-narrow Hebrew Delicatessen in Montreal whose signature dish is the famous sandwich traditionally served with (in addition to the usual pickle, coleslaw and fries) a Cherry Coke. Luckily, I have had the pleasure of sampling this specialty at the national shrine thereto, and, as such, I have thus joined the company of a countless herd of celebrities who have made this culinary pilgrimage over the last several decades.

The sandwich you see above is not a Schwartz production, but was rather made at the somewhat lesser known Dunn’s Famous Deli, in Ottawa. Sadly, the meat at Dunn’s does not, at least in my recent experience, stack up to the Schwartz tradition… The meal I had was gargantuan, and generally great in all other respects, but the meat  was bland an uninteresting. It was clear that a genuine Montreal-style smoked meat was being sampled but, sadly, the flavor just wasn’t there. I suspect, after tasting it, that it had been kept over-warm for too long and, if so, the restaurant would probably be advised to slice the cut only as needed and then re-heat just before service.

Anyway, I would be curious to hear from my non-Canadian readers and learn which of you have actually sampled a Montreal Smoke Meat Sandwich, and which of you have never heard of the unique specialty…





Posted in Notable Nosh

Notable Nosh: Gio Brand™ Spanish Deli Sampler

Spanish Sampler 1

Just the other day, out local Co-op started stocking a whole range of deli meats and cheeses all packaged under the Gio trademark, which, I discovered is associated with Daniele Foods of Pascoag, Rhode Island. As you can see, the Spanish Deli sampler package I ended up buying contains Salchichon, which I have never heard of, Serrano Ham, which I have heard of but never tried, and Chorizo, of which I have eaten many varieties. To be honest, I really wasn’t expecting too much from a vacuum-sealed deli product but, aside from the fact that the purportedly self-seal package ripped badly on opening (thus rendering it un-sealable), I was very impressed and pleasantly surprised indeed… Continue reading “Notable Nosh: Gio Brand™ Spanish Deli Sampler”

Posted in Restaurants

Review: Dunn’s Famous Deli – Ottawa

355 Dalhousie Street, Ottawa, (613) 562-4966 – Website

Date of Visit: March 22, 2012 

I hadn’t really planned on reviewing breakfasts when I started my blog but my wife thought it would be a good idea and on my recent trip to Ottawa I hit a couple of spots that deserve a mention. Dunn’s is one of them:

Dunn’s is just down the street from Les Suites hotel, which is where I usually stay when I visit the capital. It is part of a restaurant chain, I recently discovered, and it is primarily a licensed Deli specializing in Montreal Smoked Meat. More importantly, from my perspective, they offer breakfasts 24 hours a day, and, for those who require it, their breakfast menu offers a ‘Hair of the Dog Caesar’… although I haven’t been tempted by that particular offering yet…  Continue reading “Review: Dunn’s Famous Deli – Ottawa”