It’s moments like last Friday night at Katz’s Delicatessen that validate my reasons for moving to New York.
I’ve always been fascinated by American history and one of the things I appreciate most about New York, having moved here almost two years ago from the California Bay Area, is its age. When I came to Katz’s Shabbat dinner to celebrate its 125th anniversary, I couldn’t help but admire the deli’s ability to maintain its old-fashioned charm in the middle of this modern metropolis.
The deli’s enduring legacy comes from its ability to adapt to change while also maintaining its traditions. Each of the four courses at the Friday night feast reflected this balance of old and new.
Four renowned New York chefs each prepared a dish inspired by a classic Katz’s ingredient, giving a contemporary spin to classic deli flavors.
The first course, created by Joey Campanaro, chef and owner of Little Owl, Market Table, and Quality Clam Pizzeria, was a spinach salad with Lake Superior whitefish, a potato latke, pickled tomato and red onion relish. A delicious change from the typical foods I’d pair with a latke.
Next came “chicken-in-a-pot,” prepared by Bill Telepan, chef and owner of Telepan. A bowl of spring vegetables and roasted chicken floating in a warm, savory broth was the last thing I thought I’d enjoy on a humid, 90 degree May night, but I was mistaken.
The most original recipe came in the form of Kung Pao pastrami from chef Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese Food. Cooked cubes of Katz’s Pastrami, served with peanuts, celergy, rice, potato, and “explosive chili,” made for a seriously spicy experience, which for my taste, is always welcome.
Finally, just when I thought I couldn’t eat another bite of food, came the lemon cheesecake with crystallized ginger prepared by the great Sarabeth Levine, pastry chef, cookbook author, and owner of several Sarabeth restaurants. In my mind there’s no other dessert more significant to New York than cheesecake, but this one, just as Sarabeth described it when she came up to the stage to introduce the dessert course, was the perfect balance of tart, dry, and creamy.
To wrap things up, thank you Katz’s for giving New York platefuls of history to chew on.
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