Jump to content

Now, you can catch a wave, then hang 10 with some Montreal smoked meat ... in Califor


Recommended Posts

  • Administrator

Now, you can catch a wave, then hang 10 with some Montreal smoked meat ... in California

 

 

MIKE BOONE, The Gazette

 

Published: Monday, June 18, 2007

Surf's up in Redondo Beach - and so is the cholesterol.

Thanks to a couple of former Montrealers, hungry diners in the southern California coastal town can tuck into smoked meat and poutine. The Redondo Beach Cafe is about 4,000 kilometres from the lineup at Schwartz's, but Steve Spitzer, another expat, says the smoked meat gap isn't that wide.

 

 

"I was driving by when I saw their sign," Spitzer adds, "and I thought 'Montreal-style smoked meat' was BS. But it wasn't.

 

"Since I discovered the place, I've gained six pounds in six weeks," says the 50-year-old Spitzer, who describes himself as "an attorney who dabbles in the poker world."

 

Redondo Beach is about a 12-minute drive south of the Los Angeles airport. Spitzer describes its distance from L.A. as approximating Montreal to Dollard.

 

The restaurant is on California's Pacific Coast Highway, about 200 metres from the beach. It is owned and operated by the Tsangaris brothers, 42-year-old Costa and Chris, who's 39.

 

While studying at Vanier College and Concordia University, Costa worked in Montreal restaurants, including high-class joints like Milos, and "learned from the masters on Park Ave., Duluth, Ste. Catherine and St. Lawrence."

Chris was a jock who played football at Long Beach State University (where he was coached by the legendary George Allen) in the late 1980s and had a six-year career - including a brief stint with the Alouettes - as a linebacker in the CFL.

 

Hearing a Montreal voice on the phone last week transported Costa back to his boyhood in Park Extension (the family moved to New Bordeaux when he was a teenager).

 

"We grew up on Birnam near Beaumont," he said. "Before we knew there was such a thing as real smoked meat in restaurants, we used to eat it out of those plastic pouches our mother would put in boiling water."

 

The concept of smoked meat in a bag would send shivers down the spine of any Schwartz's/The Main/ Abie's/Smoke Meat Pete habitue accustomed to the hand-carved delight of the real deal. But you eat what you can get.

 

What you could get in the way of spiced meat in southern California, until the launch of the Redondo Beach Cafe, was pastrami or corned beef.

 

My friend Alan Richman, who wrote a superb sports column for the Montreal Star in the mid-1970s and went on to many wonderful gigs, including restaurant writing for GQ magazine, used to insist that Montreal smoked meat was merely a local variation of the pastrami he'd grown up eating in New York.

 

This esoteric debate among east coast foodies is a moot point in sunny California, where - far from the delicacy's origins in eastern Europe - smoked meat is new, different and popular.

 

At the Redondo Beach Cafe, you can get the real deal. Briskets imported from Montreal are carved into sandwiches (including a Speedo-stretching "double-meat" special), served Montreal-style on rye bread with mustard.

Then there's the "Rachel" (as opposed to a Reuben) made with smoked meat, Thousand Islands dressing, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese; a smoked meat club; a smoked meat sub that's a variation of the Philly cheese classic; spaghetti marinara with smoked meat and a smoked meat omelet.

 

"We also do a health food item - smoked meat scrambled with egg whites," Costa said.

 

Only in California can smoked meat be marketed as health food.

In addition to Ahi Tuna Tacos, the El Paso Grill and low-fat, high-protein ostrich burgers, the Brothers Tsangaris also offer poutine (made with Wisconsin curd cheese and imported St. Hubert BBQ sauce) and Greek specialities, including souvlaki, pastichio, moussaka and two Hellenic hamburgers, the Kojak's Gyro Burger and Big Fat Greek Burger.

 

Chris has a master's degree in sports management from Long Beach State and ended up running the program at the school after an injury ended his CFL career. Costa moved to California seven years ago, and he and his brother began thinking of bringing "Montreal quality and hospitality" to southern California.

 

Two years ago, the brothers bought a 45-year-old beachside restaurant. In addition to renovating and Montrealizing the menu, Costa and Chris decorated with Habs' stuff, including Guy Lafleur and Yvan Cournoyer jerseys.

 

"The first picture we put up," Costa said, "was Rocket Richard."

The Cafe's big-screen TVs were tuned to the Stanley Cup playoffs. There will be a Canada Day party on July 1.

 

The Redondo Beach Cafe seats 145 (75 if everyone orders double-meat). Business is good, with a clientele, Costa says, ranging from "surfers to CEOs."

 

Bread is a problem. Costa said the local variety lacks the crustiness of Montreal rye.

 

"The flour here is different," he said. "But we're working on it."

[email protected]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...
adblock_message_value
adblock_accept_btn_value