Scott Peterson, Food Styling by Kim Konecny
Thanks to artisan meat-maker David Michael Cane, you don’t have to go to New York to get the ultimate pastrami sandwich. In fact, some New York delis and restaurants now look to the Left Coast for the most delicious cuts of the cured delicacy.
Cane’s David’s Old World brand meats are prepared right here in Northern California. Cane cures his pastrami in Fairfield, and his Hamlette (petite cuts from the heart of the pork leg) and bacon at Prime Smoked Meats in Oakland. However, Cane learned his skills in the Big Apple, while reporting a story about New York pastrami for A Matter of Taste, the radio show he cohosts with his wife, Rachel.
“We were in New York, comparing the best pastramis around the city. I felt the very best was made by the Pastrami King in Queens. The owner showed me his process, and I remembered how to do it,” says Cane, a 2004 James Beard Award winner for the radio program. “A few years later, we were living in California and just craving the pastrami from New York. I said, ‘I’m just going to make it myself.’ ”
Cane’s hobby quickly turned into a thriving business, and he now splits his time between curing meat and working on his radio show. Tom Colicchio, head judge on TV’s Top Chef, uses Cane’s pastrami for his ’Wichcraft stores around Manhattan (and in San Francisco’s Westfield Centre). “Tom’s mother is Italian, and his father is Jewish—they couldn’t believe he was using pastrami from California,” says Cane, laughing. “That is, until they tasted it.”
Fortunately, Diablolanders don’t need to travel anywhere for a taste. Lark Creek Walnut Creek uses David’s Old World meat on its pastrami sandwich. In Rockridge, Market Hall’s The Pasta Shop sells the pastrami and Enzo’s Meat sells the Hamlettes by the pound.
A Matter of Taste airs Sundays from 4–6 p.m. on KQKE 960 AM, www.amatteroftaste.com