In early November I got word Shlomo was opening a deli at the base of the Gondola. My eye’s immediately lit up and I was instantly hungry. Actually, starving. I couldn’t wait to tell my friend Michelle who is a Jewish Soulfood freak and usually orders a whole page of the menu at Zadie’s Deli in Denver.
“Oh Shlomo’s!!” she exclaimed “when does it open? I am going everyday!!”
When I told the ladies in the park the next day, they all exclaimed “Oh Shlomo’s!!”
In fact, everyone I told replied “Oh Shlomo’s!” True story.
I am no stranger to authentic Jewish comfort food. Think: Bubby Jennie’s matzoh ball soup, potato latkes and brisket. I have memories of walking into her house and being overcome by the smells of her cooking. Well, that and Zada’s cigars. Bubby Jennie once chided me because my potato latkes were just ‘chopped potatoes and onions’. Forever scarred, I revert to deli’s like Larry’s Deli on South Avenue in Plainfield, New Jersey and the such. I was glad an authentic deli was coming to Aspen.
Schlomo’s had a deli in the late 80’s on the other side of the gondola from where he is now. It is a place of legend, so I was already imagining what would be on the menu. Would it be true to Bubby Jennie’s authentic ideal? Would Michelle approve?
Soon after opening, Michelle and I show up. Town is dead. Shlomo’s is packed. It’s the kind of local crowd that makes Aspen so special. It feels like a bar mitzvah, everyone I know in one place. Actually, it is like Shlomo’s bar mitzvah, because he works the room with ease, a beaming smile on his face as he greets his friends, old and new.
As Michelle wipes the drool off her menu, she reaffirms her vow to come every day. We try to cheat off of other tables as to what looked like a ‘must eat first’. We are conflicted. She goes for the Traditional Blintzes with warm blueberry sauce. I order the Salami, Eggs and Onion Scramble, a dish I kind of forgot about, but loved as a kid. I promise myself not to eat the hash browns because calorie-wise, I was splurging on the rest. Bikini in15 days, and counting.
According to Ms Jew Food herself, the blintzes are a “tastebud euphoria” (add lots of exclamation marks). “How do they get them so perfect?” she wonders, still chewing.
“Shut up Michelle! I am in heaven over here. Give me a moment.” I mumble, mouth full. The salami, eggs and onions are perfect. I never had the Salami sliced so thin. And I don’t remember the onions being so sweet. And those hash browns? Forget about it. The potatoes were finely grated and perfectly crisp. They never had a chance.
Being true to our word, we come again the next day. Separately. I come with my friend Stephanie who has so many guys visiting our table that Shlomo comes by and asks her to come everyday. “Oh Shlomo!” she blushes.
I have Matzoh Ball soup. It doesn’t look like a huge portion but the flavor is spot on and the matzoh balls have the perfect density. To my surprise I am full before finishing. One of Stephanie’s ‘visitors’ has no problem polishing off the rest of my soup and raves about it on Facebook. You know who you are, MR!
Today is a dreary Monday. Aspen is in the lull between Thanksgiving and New Years. Locals are piling in, some in ski gear others on lunch break. They are ordering dishes they already consider their favorite, dishes they kvel about to their friends. I had Lisa’s Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad, being my bikini is t-minus 5 and looming. It is delicious, a perfect balance of grain, sweet, citrus and crunch. I don’t want it to end. So sad.
Boogie is here with friends, chatting with Shlomo like old times. I see Ginnie, Andrew, Neil, Dave, and dang, what is his name and Michelle of course! In any case, it is barely noon and this place is buzzing.
Dave is at the bar. Of course, I have to know what he is ordering so I shimmy over. He says he is ordering everything on the menu until he has something he doesn’t like. It seems to be the theme here. So far, he has had the White Fish Salad and the New York Style Pastrami, both excellent. He promises to keep me posted.
Since taking oath, Michelle has been impressive keeping up her end of the bargain, habitually eating in and taking out almost everyday. Her favorite dishes are: Matzoh Ball Soup, Traditional Blintzes and the Whitefish Salad. On deck for me to order is: Bagel, Lox and Cream Cheese, New York Style Pastrami and Peggy’s Challah French toast, after vacation of course.
Time to give up my table. There are hungry people hovering. What they are going to order? What would Bubby Jennie order? Whatever she would choose, I ‘m sure she would be happy.
Oh Shlomo, glad you are back!