Saturday, November 28, 2020

For the Love of Pastrami

My earliest memories of a pastrami sandwich were when I was about 7 or 8 years old. My dad took me to a Marie Calendars restaurant in Southern California.

What I remember most of that lunch was how much pastrami they packed on the sandwich. Oh, and the lemon meringue pie I had for dessert.

I never really thought about what goes into creating the amazing thin beef slices that make up the sandwich. All I knew was that I liked it, and if that is what I was craving, nothing else would do.

The Pastrami at the Carnegie Deli

Although the exact origins of this exact style of preserved meat is a bit vague, it seems that the beginnings of pastrami were the work of the Ottoman Turks, according to “The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home.”

Their methods were passed to the Romanians. But most of the ancient world developed a similar method of using salts to preserve meat.

I was with the migration of Romanian Jews that pastrami came to the shores of the New World. They switched from using goose to using cheep American beef in their recipes.

But legend has it that Mr. Sussman Volk made the sandwich famous. He was asked by a Romanian friend to store luggage in his basement while he returned to Romania for an extended visit. In return, the friend shared his family pastrami recipe with Volk. In 1887 Volk began producing pastrami in his New York butcher shop.

It became so popular; he began serving it sliced in sandwiches. He added seating to the shop and turned it into a restaurant.

Today good pastrami can be found in almost any city in the US. 

New York is full of great deli’s; the Carnegie Deli was a landmark for almost 80 years before shuttering its doors in 2016. With their 4-inch-high plie of steaming hot pastrami, they were the king of the sandwich.

In LA, Canter’s Fairfax serves up a meal that is pretty close to the better deli’s in New York.

But for me locally, The Hat Pastrami is the go-to. It’s fast food service, but they do a great job.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Eating Zion - The Switchback Grill part 2

On the last night of our vacation to Zion National Park, we decided to splurge a little bit and return to the Switchback Grill for dinner.

This time, we had a reservation and were seated almost immediately.

I ordered the Manhattan Sirloin Strip steak (medium rare), Au Gratin Potatoes, and mixed Vegetables. 

The Manhattan Sirloin Strip Steak.

The meal arrived in an acceptable amount of time.

The steak was perfectly cooked, a nice cool red center and a light char on the outside. I normally don’t request any sauces with my steak, I might add a bit of salt and pepper.

The steak was excellent, the potatoes and vegetables were good. 

Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee

Dinner was great and we saved just enough room for a little dessert. We split the Crème Brulee. It was perfect. Nice crisp sugar crust on the outside, covered with some berries on top.

Just the right way to finish off a nice vacation.


Monday, November 23, 2020

Eating Zion - Stagecoach Grill part Two

Our next trip to the Stagecoach Grill was to the second location in La Verkin, Utah, just a little West of the Springdale location.

We went for breakfast and I opted for the Stagecoach Skillet – “Potatoes with your choice of bacon or sausage and two eggs smothered with your choice of Chile Verde or sausage gravy. Served with toast or a biscuit.”

Stagecoach Skillet with Scrambled Eggs and Chile Verde

Now I know that almost everyone can agree that bacon is the holy grail of all meats. However, if you look back at earlier posts to this blog, you’ll notice that, at least for me, Chile Verde shares an almost equal level of adoration with bacon (however not to the level of the Pacific Islander love of Spam, but close).

I first became aware of Chile Verde when I tried the “Lester’s Burger Bonanza” at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport during a really long layover.

The “Lester’s Burger Bonanza “was described as: “green Chile pork (osso buco style), atop wagyu beef, Oaxaca, bacon and avocado, served on a challah roll with roasted jalapeno aioli and housemade chips.”

Lester's Burger Bonanza

(the original post -

The wagyu beef and the rest of the offerings were great, but the Chile Verde made the burger. As I said at the time, it was love at first bite.

The Chile Verde at the Stagecoach Grill is among the best I have ever tasted. The combination of tender pork chunks with a blend of roasted poblano, jalapeno chiles, cilantro, spices and tomatillos were just amazing. Add to that the subtle crunch of hash-browned potatoes and tender scrambled eggs and you have a near perfect breakfast.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Eating Zion - The Pastrami Burger

Before we left for our Zion trip, I did some research on what foods are particular to Utah. 

Although Funeral Potatoes sounds interesting, I didn’t see it on the menu anywhere. What I did see was a Pastrami Burger. 

I am a big fan of the pastrami sandwich. 

Properly done, served on rye bread or a sturdy roll with a bit of mustard. And maybe a pickle on the side. 

Real pastrami is made from a roast. Covered with a mix of spices, smoked, and then steamed until perfectly done it has a very specific taste and texture.

The burger looked good when served

 What I got was not “real” pastrami. 

The closest thing I can think of is the Carl Budding prepackaged meats. However, that was not the worst part of the burger. 

If your going to serve a large burger, you need to serve it on a bun that will stand up to what you stuff between the slices. It only took a couple of bites before the bun began to disintegrate. 

This is not how this is supposed to work!

Needless to say, it made quite the mess! 

 Maybe I’ll try it again at a different restaurant.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Eating Zion – The Bit and Spur


Due to the pandemic, The Bit and Spur was not seating guests in the dining room. You had two options when making a reservation. You could sit at a table on the porch, or you could opt for the outdoor seating on their large lawn.

We picked the lawn option.

It was really nice. Many guests brought their dogs with them. All of the dogs were pretty calm, except one that got a little excited when several members of the local deer population made a guest appearance.

I tried another local brew, the Hell's Keep Golden Ale from Squatters Brewery. It's very good.

I had the carne asada plate. It was well cooked, and I thought it was very good. I also ordered a cup of chili verde, which was good, but I may have over ordered a bit. The staff was very friendly.

The Carne Asada plate came with black beans and cilantro rice, some grilled peppers. The beans were good, nothing special, but good. The steak was still medium rare, not easy with such a thin cut. 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Eating Zion – The Stage Coach Grill

 After a day of driving and hiking in Zion we went to the Stage Coach Grill in Springdale for a early dinner.

We had a reservation; we learned the day before that not having one could lead to exceptionally long waits or even not getting a table at all.

We were seated pretty quickly, a nice table by the window with a great view.

I ordered a beer and a bacon cheese burger.

The Bacon Cheese Burger

The menu described it as a “Flame Broiled Hamburger patty served with two slices of thick cut hardwood smoked bacon and your choice of cheese.”

Squatter's Craft Beer, a local Utah Brewery. They make a very good beer.

After an active day hiking in Zion, the burger and the beer really hit the spot.

I would go back again. In fact we did.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Eating Zion - The Switchback Grill

We have planned several trips for this year, all of our plans have ended up on the Covid scrap heap. 

I finally decided that we needed a road trip. So I planned a trip to Zion National Park, a mere 500 mile drive from the house. 

Our first night we went to the Switchback Grill. We didn’t have a reservation, which turned out to be a bit of an issue. 

We were fortunate and the maître d' managed to get us a table. The couple that arrived just after us wasn’t so lucky. 

I ordered the bacon  wrapped Meatloaf  Napoleon made with veal, buffalo and pork grilled and roasted tomatoes served with house mashed potatoes and thyme pan gravy.

Meatloaf Napoleon

I have to say it was good enough that we planned to make a reservation and return before we left for home. 

Switchback Grille Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato