Thank you Schwartz’s

Catharine writes:

Today’s Montreal Gazette has a superb article on page A4 by Jason Magder featuring Schwartz’s Deli and the Steak spice that made it famous. This seasoning mixture was first created by a man called Morris ‘Shadow’ Sherman, according to Bill Brownstein in his book Schwartz’s Hebrew Delicatessen. It then reached international fame when the flavour experts from a London, Ont.-based company, McCormick Canada, began marketing this spicy combination.

the main

Well do I remember the first visit that Neil and I made to Schwartz’s on Saint-Laurent Boulevard (‘The Main’). That Saturday we had been out exploring the city by bus, as we always did on weekends. We were barrelling comfortably along Sherbrooke street way out by the Olympic stadium when a snowstorm blew up. We got out at the next stop, crossed the road and waited and waited for a return bus.

When we were finally seated in the bus, Neil said ‘Let’s go to Schwartz’s for a steak. By 4pm we were blown in the door of Schwartz’s by a howling wind and on to seats at a long table near the open grill.

I could swear there was sawdust on the floor and the waiters all had their hair parted in the middle, like something out of the twenties. By I think that was a delusion produced by the cold.

Rarely have I tasted anything so welcoming and delicious as that thick steak set down in front of me fresh off the grill. With a juicy jaunty pickle lodged on the plate beside it to Neil’s delight. Needless to say, we returned many times over the years.

On his radio show Exchange, Neil would regularly throw out the question, ‘Where do you get good value for your eating out dollar?’

Fortunately Neil couldn’t resist trying out his callers suggestions. Fortunately, because I was not the world’s most experienced cook, and Neil had conveniently forgotten how to cook when he got married. He did, however, have one recipe, which he produced with a flourish from time to time.

As I read The Gazette‘s article on Schwarz’s, I held my breath. Would they give out the famous recipe for steak spice. Well, there it is, in black and white. My interest was due to the fact that one day on Exchange, Neil decided to give out his own special recipe for Steak spice “First you lather the steak with soya sauce, then you sprinkle on a big dose of red pepper flakes, be generous with the red pepper. Then place on a hot dry pan (he didn’t mention this often set off the fire alarm in our house).

A week later, a man called in to Exchange “Mr McKenty” he said “we tried your recipe last weekend on our outdoor Barbeque – we used to have a lot of blackflies – they are all gone. We used to have some very nosy neighbours. They are all gone. We’ve nailed your steak to the barndoor.”

Do you have a favourite recipe?

Where do you get good value for your eating-out dollar?

Do you eat out often?

Is that a special Montreal custom?

Has it changed at all over the years?

Do you ever have a 2 hour lunch these days?

Do you barbeque at home a lot?

Do you ever travel by bus in your city just for pleasure?

Catharine McKenty


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