Sunday, July 22, 2007

Montreal - Schwartz's Smoked Beef, Do NOT call it Pastrami!

Upon arrival in Montreal, we dropped our bags at the Hotel Godin (which has since been acquired by a new owner and re-branded Opus Montreal) and immediately stomped up the street to Schwartz's Deli in search of its infamous smoked beef. We had read several times that Montreal smoked beef is a culinary marvel and Schwartz has perfected to a level that they get orders for it to be shipped around the globe

According to some travel/food guide I consulted (can't find the reference), Montreal smoked beef brisket is typically cured for several days, smoked for hours and then (as if this beef hasn't been through enough) shoved for several hours more into a spice loaded steam box resulting in a fall-apart tender delight of gastronomical proportions.

Upon arrival at Schwartz at 12:30pm, we found a line out the door and 1/4 of a block long. Given the hungry frenzy we were in, we defaulted to a less busy place (Cafeteria) down the way but returned promptly at 11:20am the next day to beat the rush.

On our return visit, we successfully scored a seat immediately and we both ordered "lean" smoked meat sandwiches (you can order different levels of desired fat) with an order of fries and a pickle. The sandwiches promptly arrived piled on soft thin slices of rye slathered with mustard. The meat was literally dripping off the sandwich as we picked them up to feast. Sure to the promise, the meat was tender and well seasoned, but less decadent than I expected (likely due to our opting for lean). Next time, we'll take up the fat level to see how that impacts the experience. Whatever you do, don't call it Pastrami, lest you get a prompt tongue lashing from the Quebecois.

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