Kenny and Ziggy’s

Deli, Jewish — By on May 13, 2010 4:59 pm

Toward the end of 2009, I met Ziggy Gruber, one of the owners of Kenny & Ziggy’s Deli, while working (in my capacity as a television show host) at a movie junket. Ziggy introduced himself and our conversation quickly turned to the restaurant business. I’d explained that I had been to Kenny & Ziggy’s before and though I liked the food, it was too rich for my stomach. He invited me to drop in any time to check out some of the healthier options on the menu. It took a while, but I finally took up his suggestion. I’m so glad I did.

I called Ziggy to let him know I’d be dropping by with some friends. Ziggy joined us at our table, which gave me the perfect opportunity to pepper him with questions. Having been raised Colombia, I didn’t know a single Jewish person growing up, and I had no exposure to Jewish culture or food. I asked Ziggy to educate me about Jewish food: what is traditional Jewish food, what is ‘healthy’ Jewish food…and just what the heck is a matzo ball? I’ve seen a lot of kosher food at the supermarket but have never known what to try, how to make something kosher, or what happens to the rest of the animal that is not used in kosher food.

Ziggy explained that a lot of Jewish food has Eastern European roots. Eastern Europe? Apparently so.

Suddenly, a steady stream of plates started arriving at our table: a huge pastrami sandwich, Hungarian goulash, Hungarian stuffed cabbage, chicken soup with matzo balls, bagels with smoked salmon and pickles. Wow, where to start?! I guess Ziggy really means what he says on his Deli’s website: If someone leaves the Deli not feeling full, it would break his heart.

Just in case you’re wondering, yes the matzo balls really are softball size, as advertised. And the chicken soup tastes homemade. I’m a sucker for soup so that was a dish I really enjoyed- (Oh yeah, it was twice voted as the Best Chicken Soup in the Emmanuel Soup Cook Off). The Hungarian goulash was delicious with a nice sweet and sour flavor. The meat in this dish just melted in my mouth, and the stew sauce had a great meaty flavor. The salmon was nice and light, and is smoked on the premises. I love that the spices are not overwhelming, and you can really taste the main ingredient of each dish.

Over all of this great food we discussed politics, history, love lives, solved the world’s problems and shared a lot of laughter.

The Kenny & Ziggy website warns that portions are big, but that pastrami sandwich was generous! Fortunately, I had friends with me who can eat like truckers. Even so, Ziggy wasn’t disappointed: we walked out of his Deli full to the brim.

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