Jeff Smith 2 p.m., Dec. 18
No Jewish Deli Nearby? Go Online
Can't make it to DZ Akins, Milton's, or Brooklyn Bagels? A Chicago Jewish deli called Schmaltz has just expanded, starting with Schmaltz Online. They've got just about everything -- about 35 products, including rye bread, rugelach, pastrami, brisket, corned beef, and several kinds of knishes.
First thing: many food sites charge a small fortune for shipping. These guys have some kind of arrangement with Fed Express, so the stuff comes quickly (packed in ice bags, styrofoam coolers, etc.) and shipping isn't exorbitant. Not exactly cheap, just not exorbitant.
Before recommending it, I tried a number of items. I don't really like Jewish deli sandwich meats, so I skipped those (but they do have smoked tongue, which I want to try some day when I'm flush). I zeroed in on the Sunday-morning breakfast staples.
The Nova lox is just fabulous, so tender and delicate. I've ordered lox from many sources, and this one is outstanding. I also loved the smoked whitefish salad. Alas, no straight whole chubs available. I do miss chewing off the smoked fat from under their crackly, golden skins.
The wine herring, as promised, is miles better than bottled Lasco. The bagels are good and hard, but not as hard as NY.
I didn't much like their chopped liver: Milton's' suave version tastes more like my Aunt Frieda's (the best cook in the family), and this one is more coarsely chopped, with maybe too much schmaltz (chicken fat).