Every once in a while, it’s nice to see a local place start to hit their stride and become successful. In this case, I’m talking about Pierogi Me. While there’s a modest Polish population here (particularly in Claremont, NH), Polish food is mostly limited to the occasional special event (like Polish Night at The Old Courthouse), so I’m always on the lookout for opportunity to find some Polish sausages or pierogi. So when I first heard about Pierogi Me, finding their product involved a bit of a hunt, since they made the pierogi in their own kitchen and primarily sold pierogi at several farmers markets, the Killdeer Farm Stand, and, most easily found, the freezer case at Dan and Whit’s General Store. Alas, about half of the times I went to try and get them, I’d find that the word had gotten out, and there wouldn’t be anything left. But then, an important change happened: they opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
As far as I am concerned, a proper pastrami sandwich (or the close cousin, the Quebec “smoked meat” sandwich)is the pinnacle of a good sandwich: moist, seasoned beef that’s been brined and smoked, the resulting meat being carved to order, with a few nice slabs being served up on some good rye bread with some mustard, and maybe some kraut. As you bite into each slice, you get a little bit of meat, a little bit of fat, and, most importantly, a little bit of the salty, spicy, and smoky crust. It’s a bit like going to get some really good smoked brisket at a good Texas BBQ joint. There’s just one problem: the vast majority of places serving up pastrami sandwiches just don’t do that: they usually just slap some sort of pre-made deli meat (like Boars Head) onto some rye bread, and call it good. That’s not a bad sandwich, but it’s missing entirely too much of what makes pastrami sandwiches great. There are some places out there that are that good, and, indeed, a few of them I’ve even written up here, like Guild Fine Meats or the famous Schwartz’s. Or the ones I haven’t, like the famous Katz’s in New York City (I haven’t written up Katz’s? What the Hell is wrong with me? I’ll have to fix that…). But, hidden away on P Street in Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood is a nice little gem of a deli that is doing it’s part to offer a good and proper pastrami sandwich.
As I begin to close out my reviews for 2013, I’ve got a review of possibly one of the most interesting (and most interestingly named) places I visited during the year: Beaver Choice in Mesa, AZ. Beaver Choice had been on my radar for a while—while visiting Arizona in August of 2012 for some “extreme climate testing”, I had checked out various review sites for something new and interesting, and Beaver Choice came up near the top of several East Valley listings, so I drove by to check them out (at the time, they were located on Broadway in Tempe behind
A few years ago, the old courthouse in Newport, NH was renovated and converted into a restaurant, called, simply, The Old Courthouse. It’s been a welcome addition to the area’s fairly meager “fine dining” scene, with a rather nice dinner menu, as well as one of the area’s better Sunday Brunches. However, what has often drawn me to the Old Courthouse is that they often have some pretty good theme dinners. In this case, they recently were celebrating Polish-American Heritage Month with a series of Polish dinners. Seeing that Carol is of Polish descent, and I’m of Lithuanian descent, and the area don’t really have a lot of Eastern European dining options, we decided to check it out.
This trip to Minneapolis also allowed me to indulge in another of my favorite Twin Cities culinary treasures: Kramarczuk Sausage Company on East Hennepin in Minneapolis, right where Marcy-Holmes and Nordeast meet up. When I first moved to Minneapolis, Kramarczuk’s and the nearby Surdyk’s liquor store were the only major attractions in an otherwise tired out neighborhood of old furniture stores and former car dealers. In the years since then, Surdyk’s moved from a storefront to their own giant building up the road, the neighborhood has been almost completely rebuilt (the old IGA and strip mall are now a Whole Foods, etc). I barely recognize the neighborhood, but Kramarczuk Sausage Co is still alive and well, dishing all sausages and all varieties of eastern European food…