Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How To Build A Killer Sandwich In Two Stops

Continuing to document a recent weekend trip to Cleveland, it became clear to my traveling companions that I had never tried Mr. Brisket and the amazing pastrami that they produce. Located at 2156 South Taylor in Cleveland, Ohio, Mr. Brisket was actually located between where we were currently located and where we wanted to go. It wasn't even that I was insisting that we make a stop, but the driver of the car was dead set that today was the day I lost my Mr. Brisket virginity.

As we got close to the retail location of Mr. Brisket, I was regaled with stories from Debbie of how wonderful the pastrami was. It was so good, in fact, that the pound or so that my companions normally would order wouldn't even make it home. Apparently the stuff is so desirable, it can be used as culinary cash to pay someone for a job well done or as a thank you. I suddenly had the image in my head of Debbie driving her car and weaving back and forth, her eyes furtively darting from the road to the open package of warm pastrami sitting on the passenger seat in the car. As the cop inevitably pulls her over, she tries to think of a plausible story as to why she was weaving so badly. And when the cop finally approaches the window and gets the heady aroma coming from inside the car and finally sees the half-eaten mound of glistening shaved meat and the half-mad look in her eye, he can only chuckle a little bit to himself before saying to her, "Um, ma'am ... while technically not illegal, you shouldn't be operating a motor vehicle while consuming Mr. Brisket pastrami. Please put away the pastrami until you reach your destination."

With that little scenario played out in my head, we finally pulled into the parking lot and walked up to the front door of Mr. Brisket. Here's a shot of the front door:

And a shot of part of the offerings to be found inside:

After talking with both Sanford, the owner, and Hank, Sanford's partner, they got down to business and took our orders. All of us decided to buy one pound of sliced pastrami. That is, except Debbie who decided to get two pounds. Wait! Would the scene I had just imaged actually come true? Two pounds of Mr. Brisket pastrami made me think twice about taking Debbie's keys away from her so she wouldn't be a danger to others. Fortunately, all the pastrami stayed wrapped for the remainder of our journey. Whew, catastrophe averted!

Because I had never tasted the pastrami before, they shaved off some samples for us to try.

What can I say about this but, "Yum!" You could taste the clove, coriander, and black peppercorn spice on the outside and the meat had the perfect level of saltiness. Enough to flavor the meat and make your mouth water, but not so much that you went running for a glass of water. The meat was tender and moist and had just the right amount of fat so that it had a nice unctuous mouthfeel to it. I could already tell that this was going to make one heck of a good sandwich.

Although Mr. Brisket does sell fully made sandwiches, my associates INSISTED that we travel just up the road a little bit to another local Jewish bakery that makes amazing breads and pastries. Located at 2181 South Green Road in Cleveland, Ohio, Pincus Bakery offers up many homemade baked goods for all tastes and all budgets. They can be reached at (216) 382-5120 and currently have no website (at least none that I could find).

Located in a small strip mall, here is the shot of the exterior:

Before I sit here and talk about what I did end up buying at Pincus, here are a few shots of the various display cases housing the myriad of goodies you can purchase on a regular basis:

And finally, a shot of the half-dozen egg rolls I purchased for my sandwiches:

I couldn't help myself and had to have one of these rolls naked on the way home from my trip to Cleveland. Just the aroma from opening the bag was heavenly. The "eggy" smell was overwhelming and as I bit into the amazingly fresh roll, I could tell that this was going to make a spectacular sandwich. The roll had just the right amount of "pull" to the crumb and I knew it would withstand a large mound of hot Mr. Brisket pastrami.

Deciding I wanted to share my spoils, I stopped in at a friend's house and we gently reheated the pastrami and split open the remaining rolls. I opted for a little bit of stone ground mustard and my friend went with just a little French's yellow. Unfortunately, gentle reader, I must be taken to task because even though I got all of these wonderful photos of the places and ingredients that went into this sandwich, I forgot to take a picture of my ACTUAL sandwich until it was too late. My bad. But I can tell you this, it was absolutely delicious. The meat was tender and juicy, the spices from the rub continued to sing through even though I had applied mustard, the sturdiness of the roll allowed me to take bite after bite without the sandwich falling apart. My friend, also a Mr. Brisket virgin, started peppering me with questions about where I had gone to get these ingredients. I regaled him with the same story that I just told to you and he vowed to stop into Mr. Brisket and Pincus Bakery the next time he is on the east side of Cleveland. I hope you do, too.

I'm planning another Cleveland weekend soon. My usual stop for a good sandwich is Grum's Sub Shop. I may have to have a Mr. Brisket sandwich instead. Aww, who am I kidding? I'll have to stay an extra day so I can have both.


Nancy Heller said...

Tom - a great story! However, where I was born and raised, it is sacrilege to consume pastrami (or corned beef) on any bread but rye. At least you guys got the mustard part right (and didn't ruin it with cheese).

Next time you do this - consider trying Pincus's prime competitor, Lax & Mandel, which is cattycorner on the same intersection with Pincus. They are both very good - just a little different (like mom's meatloafs).

DianeS said...

Tom, Nancy has a point about enjoying pastrami on rye. I have wished that On The Rise bakery made a rue ever since I discovered Mr. B's pastrami.

That being said, I imagine that the egg bred of those rolls would nicely absorb the juicy fat of the pastrami and that would be a party in the mouth as eating the sandwich.

Fun times and your post had me literally laughing out loud!

BONNIE K said...

I have lived here all my life and never been to Mr Brisket. Pincus, of course, but never Mr B. I now feel compelled to make a trip there.

Kathy said...

It's been over 15 years since I moved out of the Cleveland Hts area and this post was a little trip back for me. I used to work right across the street from Pincus but we always went the extra distance to get our bagels from Bialy's. Oh those sesame bagels drive to fits of sheer joy.

And Grum's! OH! It's been far too long since I've had the pleasure of a Turkey Ridge or a Grum Steer. mmm!

But hey... a weekend and Cleveland and no trip to Gallucci's?? Now that's what I call sacrilege! lol

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