Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rosh Hashanah Showdown - Hymie's vs. Murray's

For all you who are celebrating Rosh Hashanah, fellow Jewish food lover and writer "The Evster" from TV My Weefe Wooches, introduced me to some of the finest deli treats that the Main Line has to offer. I ate so much cured meat that I drank a gallon of water when I got home, and was still thirsty. As there were a lot of photos (some of suspect quality) this will read as more of a photo journey through what happens when two internet friends meet in real life. We started at Hymie's. Before we got to the deli, @TVMyWifeWatches threatened to kill me. Twice.

Hymie's interior reminded me of a cross between Canter's and The Palm. There were apparently pictures of famous family members that only Jewish people from the Main Line were aware of.

Evster did all of the ordering for me, like a true gentleman. He alerted me to the standard soda of choice, Dr. Brown's in black cherry flavor (which he kept for himself) and celery (Cel-rey) flavor, which he was all too happy to share AND watch me drink. Now I had never had Cel-rey flavored soda before, and it wasn't as bad as you would think. Kind of grassy, and vege-tible but not terrible. At first. Evster then informed me it got worse, and indeed it did.

We then moseyed over to the ALL YOU CAN EAT PICKLE BAR. Which turns out was about one bowl's worth. They also offered various salads like potato and cold chow mein noodle salad. Which, Evster informed me, is because Jewish people occasionally love a good plate of Chinese food.

As soon as we were done with the pickles, the corned beef special and pastrami reuben arrived. The reuben was stacked high with thinly sliced, smokey pastrami. I am always a big fan of the thin-meat approach which is far superior to the hand-carved version, in this lowly goy's opinion. Everything was on-point: the meat, the dressing, tart kraut and melted cheese, all on two hearty slices of rye. Fantastic.

The corned beef special was another thing of beauty. Again, ribbon-thin slices of corned beef, hearty rye bread, tangy thousand island and crisp, cool slaw. One of the better specials I have ever eaten.

Hymie's also boasts an extensive take-out deli and prepared foods section. I was mighty tempted, but I knew I still had ANOTHER round to look at, and I was already quite full.

Two step matzo ball soup below.

We then waddled our way across the street to the competition, Murray's Deli. I am told there is a bit of a sit-down, Jewish, Pat's-and-Geno's-type rivalry.

This time a cabbage soup, Reuben and a whitefish platter were ordered. Not exactly apples to apples, but we were hurting from the four pounds of meat we had just consumed. Murray's is more laid back, and it was not nearly as crowded. Of course it was getting late for the blue hair crowd at this point.

The cabbage soup was complex, with a rich, deep broth and tender lumps of cabbage. It was definitely a soul warmer.

Except for this guy's soul. He jumped up and yelled across the empty restaurant to the waitress who was actually walking towards him that his soup needed to be heated up.

On to the Murray's reuben. I could barely pull this thing apart as it was so packed with meat. The gooey cheese and crisp sauerkraut were two perfect complements. Again, it was served on two beautiful slices of rye bread. This time, as full as I was, there was something different. Dare I say, superior? The corned beef was more chipped than sliced, and was piled high as meltingly tender, tiny slices. I must say, this might have made it the winner in my book. I loved the crispy bits, and the supple pieces of meat were just perfect. It's also served with fries and a pickle (no pickle bar) and dressing on the side.

The Evster threw down some whitefish salad. I can't remember if I'd ever tried it before, and if I had, it had been a long time ago. The platter is served with tomato, lemon, pepper rings, olives, onions, cucumbers and your bagel of choice.

I was even lucky enough that he assembled me an "Evster Special" which is a hand built package of joy. I can't explain all of the steps (or he might really kill me this time) but let's just say, Swiss cheese is involved.

Murray's also had a selection of to-go goods, but not quite as large as Hymie's.

Overall, both of these places were spectacular. I loved everything I ate (except the Cel-ray), and the company was more than I could have asked for. I think the edge might go to Murray's in my book, but I need another chance to make the final decision. Let this be a lesson, you can meet your internet friends in person and nothing bad will ever happen. Probably.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Recipe: Tomato Salad

On a recent visit to Linvilla Orchards in Delaware county, I perused the farm market and was caught by an unusual tomato salad in the refrigerated section. It's not salsa, but a similar, Italian-style "salad" that you eat with a fork. It was so freaking delicious that I had to try and crack the code, and I must say, I came damn close.

It's the perfect recipe for the end of tomato season, when you've got a bowl of fresh picked garden tomatoes just laying around; not to mention the fact that it's too hot to cook them down for hours into a marinara.

Fresh Tomato Salad (a la Linvilla Orchards):
12 small-medium garden-fresh tomatoes
1 medium sweet onion
1 cup fresh basil (chiffonade)
12 cloves garlic
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. black pepper
3/4 Tbsp. dried oregano
3/4 Tbsp. garlic powder
1/2 Tbsp. salt

Slice the tomatoes into fork-friendly slivers.

And begin your ingredient pile in a large mixing bowl.

Half the onion lengthwise and slice into like-sized slivers.

Toss on.

Chiffonade your fresh basil by gently rolling the picked leaves and slicing into thin slivers.

Toss on.

Mince your garlic. I didn't use a press here because I didn't want to pulverize the meat of it, mincing kept the sharp bite and didn't let the garlic flavor overpower the finished mixture.

Now add the remaining ingredients: spices, oil & vinegar.

Gently toss the ingredients to combine, be careful not to crush anything, you want the tomatoes to stay in tact, but be sure to mix very thoroughly.

Cover and refrigerate over night. Serve cool with bread or a fork and enjoy!

-Posted by gabulous