London: Jacob Harrison Pastrami (Montreal Style Pastrami in London and it is the Real Deal)
“Square pastrami makes me so angry! I have to avoid that counter in the supermarket every time”.
An unusual conversation to be having in a park in North London, perhaps. Over a portable gas burner and a pot containing a vacuum packed bag of meat. Stranger still was that it was with a someone that I had never met before and knew vaguely only through the internet. However, I had heard great things about Jacob Harrison’s Montreal style pastrami and I had to try it. Even if that meant that we had to meet somewhere in between (to be fair, he had offered to meet me at my place and invited me over to his, but I only had an hour to spare so this was the best that we could do at the time).
Montreal smoked meat (aka pastrami) is famous. Schwartz’s Deli is a first stop for most travellers to Montreal – myself included. When I last visited and requested a sandwich, the waiter looked at me and said, “have you tried the pastrami from elsewhere?” He continued “I did and now I know why we have such long queues here.” It was so innocent and confident, yes, but deservedly so. On both of my trips to Montreal, I have eaten there.
Corey, the man behind Jacob Harrison, was missing it deeply. His family had a deli when he was growing up and this was his only connection, but tired of and so depressed by what we here consider pastrami, he developed his own recipe with his own spice mix, using rare UK beef. I tasted it, and not only was it fabulous, it was at least on a par with Schwartz’s. Moist and rich with fat (fat is key to flavour), it made a perfect sandwich with mustard and sourdough bread. Montreallers and pastrami passionistas, please note, Jacob Harrison’s pastrami is smoked, so it isn’t exactly like Schwartz’s, but they are not trying to copy Schwartz’s here, it is just my point of reference.
I love finding a producer like Corey. Independent and passionate, and doing something so good. He is trying very hard to make it happen and we should get behind him. The Jacob Harrison pastrami is not retailing yet, but I really hope it does soon. For more details, or to get in touch, please see their website http://jacobharrison.co.uk/