The Best Food in New York City
Sure, you can talk about Delmonico’s and Le Cirque, but the best food in New York is at Katz’s Delicatessen on Houston Street.
Judy just got back from a trip to New York. For her job she gets to travel to places like New York and Los Angeles, while I get to travel to places like Springfield or Rockford, Illinois. Not that I’m complaining.
While she was there she visited Katz’s for a meal. Katz’s is not trendy, in fact it seems to be in a time warp where it is forever 1947. It serves Jewish comfort food, food that resonates powerfully with people whose grandmothers served them home made blintzes and kugel (as mine did). Judy’s background is actually German Lutheran, but the fare at Katz’s can strike a chord with anyone whose grandmother came from central or eastern Europe. Both of us have a soft spot (so to speak) for this type of food.
So a meal at Katz’s was mandatory. And what harm could there be in a bowl of matzoh ball soup, especially when it’s just one matzoh ball? Sure, it’s as big as a softball, but so fluffy!
Actually, I think Judy showed admirable restraint, limiting herself to the soup and half of a chopped chicken liver on rye. And some dill pickles, of course. And me? Well, she brought me a t-shirt.
As long as she was on Houston Street, it made sense to visit Russ and Daughter’s, or as I call it, the Fort Knox of Lox. By the way, both of these establishments are covered in Calvin Trillin’s classic book, American Fried, one of the most entertaining books about food ever written.
Russ and Daughters is a Mecca for people who grew up associating smoked fish with special occasions.
Russ and Daughters makes their own cream cheese. It is laid out in its many variations, looking as luscious as gelatto. Judy had to have a taste to affirm that it is still miles beyond the cream cheese we buy in the supermarket. It still is. Oh, and she brought me a coffee mug.
Sadly, Yonah Shimmel’s Knish Bakery, another Houston Street institution, was closed when Judy came by. What is a knish, you ask? A knish is kind of like a Jewish samosa. Tragically, knishes are becoming increasingly hard to find so Yonah Shimmel’s serves as an important bulwark against knish oblivion.
What is your favorite childhood comfort food?