Thursday, March 05, 2015

The Venerable Pastrami Sandwich



 Most New Yorkers think those of us over here on the West Coast, and California in particular, don't know from pastrami, and maybe they're right. In California, nine out of ten times, when someone mentions the word pastrami, the first thing that pops into his or her head is a big fat French roll filled with mounds of sliced pastrami, mustard and pickles, and of course the roll is soaked with the juices and can be quite messy. A New Yorker would just as soon jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, into the East River, in winter, than eat a pastrami sandwich in any thing other than good honest rye bread. Still, this is how we like them in the Los Angeles area, and this is the way we get them at places like Rick's, Arry's and the Hat. Then there is The Grinder Haven, a little further east in Ontario, where their pastrami is served up as a grinder/hoagie sandwich and has a taste all it's own.

Maybe the truest Jewish deli pastrami can be found at Langer's, in the MacArthur Park area of Los Angeles or Cantor's in the Fairfax District, or Art's Deli over in Studio City which is reputed to have the best pastrami sandwich in Southern California.

Now I don't claim to be an expert in all things pastrami and I grew up eating the typical California pastrami, which is a beautiful thing but I have also come to love the deli version - maybe I'm just easy - and maybe it's just a matter of taste. I am, at best,  what you would call an highly enthusiastic eater or a lover of good food. I have been to New York only once and I have had a pastrami at Carnegie’s. I understand that the best place to get a pastrami on rye is at Katz on Houston St. I never made past Carnegie’s. To this day, Carnegie’s pastrami is the best and the biggest I've had. I have been searching the west coast ever since.

Why do I bring all this up? A few days ago my wife Jeri and I were walking along Harbor Blvd in downtown Fullerton, looking for some antique shops that we had been to a few years back. They were either closed or gone. Now, I should tell you that when it comes to food I have a built radar system that scans the area all on it's own and immediately detects the foods that I love, either for future reference or immediate consumption, which as you probably know by now, pretty much covers everything.

I saw a sign that said Gandolfo's New York Delicatessen and I immediately walked up to the window where a menu was posted and saw these words “World Famous New York Pastrami”. Well, you can Imagine my reaction! I began salivating as I scanned the menu. Everything just sounded so New York. My wife says to me “Do you want to eat here?” I smiled and said “Only if you do!” I was lying of course, I was going to go in no matter what. I ordered the “I Love (Heart) New York” Sandwich (pastrami and corned beef) on rye and a macaroni salad. Jeri got a Nathan's hot dog.

I could not contain myself but still I sat down and waited.  A little while later my patience was rewarded when my sandwich was placed in front of me. I removed the wrapper from my sandwich and … and .. Huh!!  The oddest looking rye bread was grilled as in a Reuben Sandwich, which is fine if I was eating a Reuben sandwich. I looked over at the menu and there was nothing to indicate the bread was going to be grilled. The meat - there was not much meat - looked over cooked and burnt on the edges. I was not hopeful. Still, I am by nature an optimistic person and took my first bite. The meat was overly salty and otherwise tasteless.

Okay, I was disappointed but said nothing. Jeri looked at me and asked “How is it? Still trying to be upbeat and optimistic I said “It's okay”. How's your hot dog?” I asked her back. “It's okay”. So now I'm thinking, is she trying to be upbeat and optimistic too? Remembering the old rating scale from the days when I regularly wrote reviews for, I asked her “On a scale one to five, where would you place it. “A  four, definitely a four.” A few seconds later, no a three” “You?” she asked “I'll give a three. I continued eating but now I was getting irritated. “No! I'm giving it a two” I took another bite and downgraded it to a one. I'm ashamed to say that I ate most of it but I did.

Walking back to the car Jeri hears me mumbling, “You need to stop cussing!” I'm not cussing I’m mumbling to myself!” “Well you need to stop. You need to let it go!”

The venerable pastrami sandwich. I think both California and New York took a hit on this one!

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

A Kodak Moment

Maddie's 11th Birthday Party 18101_10152872014209261_4446753918646708567_n

I want to share a moment from my granddaughter's birthday dinner at Farrell's last night. Maybe a little private but I don't think my daughter Meranda will mind.

Jeri had this idea a while back of buying a locket for Maddie, and putting photos of her and her brother Nathan inside of it. She also had some words inscribed on the back.

We knew she would like it but her reaction was just so overwhelming to all of us. We didn't expect such emotion. It brought tears to her and to all of us. You see, she never knew her brother. He passed away a few years before she was born but she still retains that love for him. It was just one of those moments we won't soon forget. Maybe you just had to be there.

At any rate, we had a good time last night celebrating Maddie's birthday with her. This girl is just one bundle of genuine love.

Some Pics From Maddie's Birthday Party

Monday, March 02, 2015

Happy Birthday to Maddie!

Retirement Dinner at the California Grill

Happy Birthday to one of the loves of my life, my granddaughter Maddie. Eleven years old today. Words cannot describe my love. Enjoy your day sweetheart and we will see you tonight!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Happy Birthday to Our Son Andrew

Not too long before my son got out of the service he called me and said "Dad, I just want to let you know that I'll be staying in Seattle once I get out of the Coast Guard"

"What, you mean for a while? You'll be coming back at some point right?

"No dad, I won't be coming back to California. I love Seattle. this is where I want to live!"

We talked about it for a while then we hung up. I shared the news with my wife. it was a difficult thing to accept.

I must have looked a little depressed the next morning as I was walking into work. A friend of mine asked "What's wrong?" I told him about the conversation. He looked me in the eye and says to me, "Sounds to me like you raised a man!", and just like that I was standing tall again.

He was right. My wife and I reared him up from boyhood to manhood. She nurtured but I trained him. I taught him to be one of the good guys, with no exceptions. I taught him how to think on his feet and to rely on himself. I taught him to stand his ground. Together we taught him to love freedom and his country.

We didn't buy him his first car. we didn't have to, he bought it himself. It was stolen not too long after he bought it but he never complained about it.

He got into trouble from time to time, and he was full of mischief as a boy but he never gave us grief. He was a great kid. He is a good son and a good brother to his sisters and a great uncle to his nieces and nephew.

He has his own ideas about the country and the world. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don't. He has his own mind and he keeps his own counsel. I would expect no less.

My wife and I miss him everyday but it's balanced by the love and pride that we have for him. As a man, he has met and surpassed our expectations.

Our son was born on this day thirty-three years ago. Happy Birthday Son!

The above photos were taken at the Huntington beach Pier in 2010.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Happy Birthday to our Grandson Nathan

Meranda and Nathan

Today, January 29, would have been my grandson's, Nathan Joseph Guardian, 14 birthday. Nathan was my daughter Meranda's son. He was a few days shy of 4 months when he passed away. He was a little guy but when he died he left a giant man sized hole in our family. Not a day goes by that we do not think about him.

We know he is at home with God. Still, we miss him. We will forever wonder what might have been. He is gone but the love for him will always be there. That will never die.

Today, and everyday, my wife and I, keep our daughter Meranda, and our two granddaughters, Mariah and Maddie, in our prayers. We pray to God that he continues to watch over them and keep them safe. That he keeps them close to him. We pray for every parent and grandparent that knows this loss.

He was, and is, one handsome son of a gun!!!
Love you Grandson!
Pop Pop and Nana

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Beef and Barley Vegetable Soup

Homemade Beef and Barley Soup with Vegetables

Homemade Beef and Barley Vegetable Soup for supper tonight. It was delicious and satisfying and the meat was falling apart tender. Browning the beef - I used stew beef and boneless short ribs - as well as the onions gave the broth a rich and delicious texture.