Friday, October 9, 2009

Izzy and Nat's, New York (Battery Park)

A great deli is one of the world's great pleasures. Izzy and Nate's is a little puzzling to me (the classic-sounding Hebe deli names coupled with the largely Latino staff, but I think that's a NY thing or maybe just a US thing emergent in the 9+ years since I left, and yes I'm licensed to use words like that), but based on one little sammich, it's a pretty good deli. It was very pleasurable. I wish I could eat lunch there every day.

This is within reasonable walking distance south of World Financial Center - it's in one of the buildings that border the river in Battery Park, between Pumphouse Park and Rector Park. There's also a really nice-looking Italian deli tucked in there, but this was breakfast, and nothing says breakfast in New York to me like a bagel. Top it with lox or whitefish, I'm not picky.

What's a whitefish? Semi-reliable sources indicate that that the kind used for the salad I'm fond of is a lake fish from the northern US or southern Canada (although I certainly hope I wasn't served any of that Canadian crap). It's heavily smoked for serving, and I saw something saying it was also brined first (this may explain why it tastes like mackerel to me despite being a freshwater, scaled fish). After smoking, it's chopped and mixed with mayonnaise, then (if you're lucky) glopped heavily on a toasted bagel with some thin vegetal components (lettuce and onion for me. I don't like tomato on sandwiches like this. It's unwieldy.).

It was really a pleasure after my last few deli experiences to be able to front up to the counter and confidently order whitefish salad on a toasted onion bagel. And it seemed really good too!  I don't know that I've ever had a whitefish salad that I didn't like, and certainly absence has made the tongue grow fonder, but this was a fresh, smokey, abundantly tasty whitefish salad. And a good bagel. Other features of I&N's display case included whole smoked fish, latkes, knishes and other prepared foods, all of which looked big and beautiful.

I see in retrospect that the bagels are made there, and the fish and meat are smoked by a small producer called 'Catskills' (oy!), and I imagine there are various other little touches that relate to excellence. I'm forced to concede that I just got very lucky in wandering in there, and if you're lucky enough to live or work nearby, you should become a regular.

I wasn't a regular, but then I ate a lotta prune hamentashen and oy vey!

I went back in February 2011 and had the pastrami-smoked salmon platter. OK, I admit it, this picture doesn't include the 4 bagels-with-whitefish-salad that I ate for breakfast that week. I'm a big fan. 

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