The art of the smoked and cured meats (Ohhh, I just love the way that sounds!) is one that we admire and seek out. We were in Toronto recently, just for a quick trip to visit family and meet our new niece. We wanted to maximize our time with her so we really didn't have much time to eat out, which is a totally switch from what our trips (anywhere) are usually like. We were, however, able to squeeze in one meal and, since it had to be a quick stop and it happened to be right around lunchtime, we settled on Caplansky's Delicatessen.
We were welcomed immediately by the alluring smell of meat smoking that we both instantly involuntarily started dramatically sniffing and huffing, wanting to take in every last air molecule. We started off with a cup of Matzoh Ball Soup that had a broth that was so rich in chicken and vegetable flavor and finished with a healthy sprig of dill that perfumed the soup. The Matzoh Ball itself playfully bobbed, light as every well-made one should be and tasted lightly of caraway.
After we got our fill of soup, we moved right along to the main attraction - the sandwich. It arrived warm, not hot and not cold, just a couple degrees above room temperature, and simply plated on rye bread with the bright pink meat peeking out the edges. Being the mustard freak that I am, I happily made myself a little palate of mustard, including honey, horseradish, spicy and original flavors and had them ready to go. Taking the first bite without mustard, the meat was outstanding. Seasoned classically with coriander and black pepper, it was salty and fatty in all the right ways with hints of smoke running throughout the meat. The bread I deemed not necessary and I proceeded to dunk the smoked meat into the various mustards, enjoying the tartness and heat that the mustard provided. I would recommend this stop to anyone traveling in Toronto.
When we were driving back from Toronto, we Googled the story behind Caplansky's. Turns out, he's quite the guy. A dot com millionaire who just really loved smoked meat sandwiches, Zane Caplan, owner, schooled himself in the art of this Canadian (Montreal to be specific here) specialty and made it available in Toronto. There's an interview with Zane that, if you've got a couple of minutes, is a great read (interview link). I can't help it, I'm a sucker for the story of those that take risks at any age to commit their life's work to their passion. Especially when it results in the form of smoked meat.