As I write, reconstruction after the fire continues in Federal Deli’s prep kitchen. We have been open again and serving lunch and dinner for a little over a week now. During our shutdown I had time to watch a fantastic documentary about all things deli. Deli-Man, directed by Erik Greenberg Anjou features at this year’s Documentary Edge Festival. It follows third generation deli-man Ziggy Gruber as he and other legendary Jewish deli figures reminisce on the golden years of this food culture and its decline in the present day.
We are partnering with Documentary Fest to help play a small part in keeping the deli tradition alive. Though most New Zealanders would associate “delicatessen” with luncheon sausage and feta cheese, this movie is an insight into the rich cultural heritage and experience that is eating deli. Erik will be attending the festival and holding Q & A sessions after each screening, and Al Brown will be introducing Erik to our Kiwi food scene here in Auckland.
Conveniently I already had plans to travel to the southern states of America later this month and Kenny & Ziggy’s Deli in Houston, Texas, is now on the top of my hit list, as well as Franklin Barbecue, among others. The classic American sandwiches that feature in Deli-Man inspire me, yet I always use my own sensibilities.
How to make a good deli sandwich
For me a good sandwich is about layers and balance. A spread ensures the bread doesn’t get too soggy; butter is good, mayo is better. Texture is an essential addition: chopped nuts, crisp iceberg lettuce or sliced apple help keep the mouth entertained.
Each layer of the sandwich should serve a purpose; the meat (or protein) should be the star: everything else should be in proportion to this. A mix of warm and cold elements adds another layer of complexity.
Here’s a breakdown of my version of the famous turkey on rye from Federal Delicatessen’s menu.
Kyle Street, executive chef at Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar and Federal Delicatessen, is an avid lover of street food. He takes a playful approach to cooking – for him it is all about provenance, big flavours and, most importantly,respecting his ingredients. Find more of Kyle’s recipes here, and for information on the Documentary Edge Festival, go to documentaryedge.org.nz