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Apr 3, 2009 05:51 PM

Goldin's Smoked Meat: A Review

Since Caplansky's started serving its smoked meat on June 10, 2008, the Toronto foodie boards have been abuzz with discussions on everything pertaining to smoked, cured brisket. What makes an authentic Montreal Smoked Meat? Is Caplansky's authentic MSM, or is it something unique; something Toronto can call its own? While the debate will undoubtedly rage on indefinitely, one thing is for sure: there is something magical that occurs when one cures, smokes, spices, and then steams a beef brisket until it is meltingly tender and deliciously piquant. All this debate certainly indicates that there a lot of people out their who crave this particular delicacy. A lot of people, myself included, think that Caplansky's smoked meat is quite unlike anything that Montreal delis have to offer. If a BBQ shack in the deep south were to do a smoked brisket sandwich, I think it would be something like Caplansky's, except perhaps drowned in a sweet, vinegary BBQ sauce. Caplansky's meat has a distinctly smoky flavour, something that people hoping for something for authentic MSM flavour would be surprised by, and perhaps disappointed. Well, I too crave Schwartz's, and now, without having to drive to Montreal, I can have the closest thing to it that I've tried in the GTA. I give you Goldin's. After hearing about it first on the Chowhound Toronto board, I was excited to try it, and immediately contacted Alex with an email stating my interest in his meat (that will never not sound wrong, will it?). Unfortunately, it was several weeks before I managed to arrange to pick up some of his brisket. Today, finally, I did. I bought one 2.5 lb medium piece and one 2 lb deckle. I had to try the deckle first, as I am definitely partial to fattier smoked meat. The pieces looked good, sealed as they were in their "Seal-A-Meal" vacuum bags - nice coating of cracked spices (not too heavy), and still covered partly in fat (I was glad to see that not all of the fat had been trimmed off, as that's where a lot of the flavour is).

The meat before cooking:

I dropped the deckle in a pot of boiling water for three hours, per the instructions included:

After cooking:

The meat was delicious.

So delicious that I could not stop eating it, evening after devouring my sizable sandwich. The spices were most definitely reminiscent of Schwartz's - I could see and taste coriander seeds, mustard seeds, cracked black peppercorns, fennel seeds, and red chili flakes. It tasted like Montreal Smoked Meat! Much more so than Caplansky's, for sure. The smoke flavour in Goldin's meat was certainly evident, but by no means the predominant flavour. The flavours were harmonious; the unctuous fatty meat balanced by the heat and flavour of the spices - the red pepper flakes most certainly contributing a little more heat than I've become accustomed to with Montreal Smoked Meat. This was a nice, gentle heat, though, and it did not detract from my overall experience of the brisket at all.

As for the texture, it was perfect. Beautifully tender and flaky, when sliced against the grain, as only perfectly cooked brisket can be. When sliced with the grain, the meat was pleasantly chewy - not what you'd want to put on your sandwich, but it demonstrated what I would consider to be a perfectly cooked brisket: tender, yet not without integrity.

I spread my fresh Future bakery rye bread with a mix of mustards: Kozlik's Double C, french Dijon, and regular ballpark mustard. This is my favourite mustard mix, as it combines all the elements I crave in a mustard: the texture of the Double C, the creamy richness of the french Dijon, and the tangy vinegar of the ballpark mustard.

It complimented Goldin's smoked meat perfectly. On the side, Mrs. Whyte's Kosher Dills, which are my absolute favourite kosher dill pickles. I got mine at European Meats on Jutland, if you're looking. To drink, a "William's Sir Perry" pear cider. The meal was delicious, but I could not stop eating the brisket. I tried a slice on its own, then another with the grain, to experiment with the different textures available. It was all delicious, but perhaps, a little too salty.

There have been some people on Chowhound that have commented that Goldin's is a little salty for their liking. I actually have to agree. It was a little too salty. Not overwhelmingly so, but definitely a little saltier than necessary. I know that they do a dry cure, and perhaps the proportions of their cure mix, combined with the length of time that they cure the brisket for, results in it being overly salty. I've made smoked meat before, and the recipe for the cure (a wet brine) from "Charcuterie" by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn, has worked very well: 4 litres water, 350 grams kosher salt, 225 grams sugar, 42 grams pink salt, 8 grams pickling spice, 90 grams dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup honey, and 5 garlic cloves, minced. Just sayin'. Also, a brisket always benefits from a thorough rinse between the curing and spice rub stages. The length of curing time also makes a big difference. I'm guessing that Goldin's cures its briskets for at least seven days, as the colour of the meat is most definitely pink throughout. While this is what one wants to see, as this indicates both the use of pink salt (containing sodium nitrite or nitrate) and a curing/brining time of at least three days, I think that the excessive saltiness of the meat would perhaps indicate a curing time that is slightly too long. Might I be bold enough to suggest that you try a five day cure, Goldin's?

To conclude: Goldin's is delicious. If you're a fan of smoked brisket of any kind, be it pastrami or Montreal Smoked Meat, give Goldin's a try. You won't be disappointed.

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  1. Hi Redearth,

    thanks for the review, it saves me from having to do it. I picked up a 2.5 lb lean piece and 1.5lb deckle, and cooked the deckle for about 3.5 hours. I just finsished eating a few sandwiches and like you, I went and made a few more, and cut off a few more slices also. I didn't find it salty, and I barely add salt to anything. (the juice that I saved from the bag was salty). I drank a Creemore beer with the sandwich.
    I'll be ordering more from Goldin's, I just wish it wasn't such a drive from where I live. It's time to have an alphonso mango for dessert.

    6 Replies
    1. re: foodyDudey

      It's fairly close to me, so next time there's a Charlie's Burger dinner, I'll bring you a package or two of Goldin's! I still haven't made it to a Charlie's Burger event, but I'm really hoping I'll be able to make the next one....

      1. re: redearth

        i don't know how to stress this enough, but you will highly unlikely ever meet at a CB event. with so many new applications they will definitely be keeping each event to first timer's only and with events about 1.5 months apart it would take forever to get through their several hundred club members.

        nice detailed review though! i was hoping to hear something about the saltiness being reduced and it seems like it hasn't been so i'll be holding out until a report like that comes in. i'll just have to satiate myself with some schwartz being brought to me this weekend ;)

      2. re: foodyDudey

        great review! i picked up some as well but will not be able to cook it until sunday. Am also thinking of using the double C as well plus another kozlik's to even out the consistency so thanks for the suggestion. I got the 2.75 medium hopefully it turns out well. I am a caplansky's regular (it is rather consistent but I like being able to get a smoked meat sandwich downtown) but am looking to try something more traditional, more spicy so here's hoping that goldin's does the trick.

        1. re: deabot

          We couldn't stop eating it either. After my wife and I finished our sandwiches, we walked back into the kitchen and saw the leftover piece of deckle on the cutting board. Without saying a word, we looked at the deckle, at each other, then back to the deckle. You know what happened next ;-) We saved a tiny piece for the morning. We steamed, shredded and added it to some scrambled eggs and onions. Perfect breakfast.

          Then off the the gym to work off some of that delicious, smoky, fatty, smoked meat.

          1. re: acd123

            I know, eh? Despite my whining about the saltiness, I really couldn't stop eating it. It took all of my will power to pack the remainder into a Foodsaver vacuum bag and seal it up for later. Wish me luck. I must save some for my better half. She gets home on Monday.

          2. re: deabot

            well i boiled the bag tonight and here I am enjoying the fruits of my efforts. Very good stuff, love the spicing, smoke, only thing that could be improved upon here is the level of fat but that's my fault because I chose the medium over the deckle...better luck next time I suppose. Enjoying it with some half sours, kozlik's da deli mustard and a lager. Perfect Sunday night dinner.

            Though it won't detract me from making regular visits to Caplansky's cuz I love Zane's fries and smoked meat, it's nice to know you can almost get the real thing as Schwartz's here in the big smoke.

        2. Yup, the stuff is excellent. I also found it salty in my review though

          I just got an email from him a day or two ago saying he was back in stock.. I was hoping the salt issue might have been fixed by now though

          1. Wow, that's a powerful review.

            Just wondering - have you tried Moishe's pickles? They're my favourite - and used to be available at Loblaws...

            5 Replies
            1. re: mikefly

              Yes, I have tried Moishe's pickles. I've also been to the original Moishe's several times (as well as the Moishe's that was in T.O., albeit somewhat briefly). You can get Moishe's pickles at Costco, I believe, as well as their slaw and potato salad, which is the best pre-made packaged potato salad I've ever had. Buy some, and tell your guests that you made it. They'll believe you. I still prefer Mrs. Whyte's pickles. Not overly sour, with a nice crunch. The perfect kosher dill, in my opinion.

              1. re: redearth

                Only the pickles remain in that big box. They sadly withdrew Moishe's all beef hot dog for lack of sales, and the potato salad is Reiser's.

                1. re: jayt90

                  That is too bad. Moishe's potato salad is at the top of the heap, IMHO. I haven't looked for it in the last few months, as it hasn't been backyard BBQ season, to say the least, but I'll be missing it soon, that's for sure.

                  1. re: jayt90

                    I just today saw both Moishe's potato salad and their coleslaw at my local Costco (Queensway and Royal York). Of course, they have giant jars of Moishe's pickles, as well. I highly recommend all products!

                    1. re: redearth

                      Well , I can't get those in the east end, at least not yet, but I noticed Moishe's steaks, burgers, and chops on

              2. I'm still waiting before I place an order.
                First, to see if Goldin survives the fall out of publicity and snoopy inspectors.

                Second, I don't see much evidence of smoking in the photos provided by the OP or by acd and duckdown on the other thread; or for that matter, any discussion of the smoke flavor.

                Could this be closer to corned beef?

                22 Replies
                1. re: jayt90

                  They certainly do smoke their briskets, and i did mention it in my review: "The smoke flavour in Goldin's meat was certainly evident, but by no means the predominant flavour", but the smoke is certainly not as overwhelming a flavour as it is in Caplansky's meat, for example. I'm guessing that they smoke their briskets for no more than a couple of hours, over a charcoal smoker, with chunks of hardwood. Which makes it more similar to MSM, in my opinion. I would say that the dominant flavours in Goldin's are those of the cure (a little too salty, perhaps), and the spice rub. All good, though. Incidentally, I have heard rumours of late that Schwartz's has not actually smoked its meat for quite some time - that it's briskets are, in actuality, more like a well-spiced pastrami than a true Montreal Smoked Meat. Can anyone verify this?

                  1. re: redearth

                    Pastrami is also smoked. Perhaps Schwartz' is more like NYC pastrami than formerly. But if Schwartz's smoked meat is no longer smoked, we would have heard through the Montreal board.

                    1. re: jayt90

                      You're absolutely right about pastrami being smoked, but the reason I differentiated between the two is that pastrami tends to have less of a obvious smoke flavour than MSM, which, as its name indicates, tends to have a smokier flavour than NYC-style pastrami, for example. As for Schwartz's, I have yet to hear a definitive answer, though I have heard many rumours. They're still just rumours, though....

                      1. re: redearth

                        The brisket I had at Caplansky's last Friday was mildly smoked. If the smoke was heavier, as it was last fall, or at the current level in Buster Rhino's (four hours for ribs over cherrywood logs, and he won't say how long for brisket), I would be lip smacking and retasting the savor for an hour or more.

                        Schwartz's is known to have used the same smoker for 75 years, and it has survived successive owners without a change in product consistency.

                        1. re: jayt90

                          You're right about Schwartz's product consistency, but one could hardly call the flavour of their brisket smokey, by any stretch of the imagination. Delicious, sure, but smokey.... I dunno... Like I've said recently, I'm definitely returning to Caplansky's soon, just to stay informed, at the very least... Needless to say, this is a never-ending debate; one I'm more than happy to take part in!

                        2. re: redearth

                          had a pre-hand-sliced sandwich of schwartz last night and i gotta say i was missing some of the smoke. it was there and really subtle but it was really difficult to realize it was there without thinking about it. not sure what is going on considering there was a noticeable smoke flavour when i got sandwiches to go back in late september. i'm wondering if the pre-sliced delivery perhaps had something to do with overall flavour?

                          i really really appreciate the schwartz though... it had a nice marbling of meat in some pieces and good rendered fat flavour that i felt was missing in the goldin's meat. delicious yummy awesome fat. the spiciness could have more intense but overall the balance of all flavours was great with the meat being in the forefront.

                          goldin's tended to me to be spice in the forefront with a good finishing of smoke flavour. it was sweet and obviously hardwood... perhaps less prominent than what i've had at caplanskys the few time i've been but still quite solid and quite obvious. if i could get a better textured meat at goldin's (which could have been my medim vs deckle problem) then he's really near tops for me.

                      2. re: redearth

                        My understanding is that Goldin has recently adjusted the recipe to deal with the salt issue. I did find it a bit salty but not overpowering. I thought it was delicious regardless. Perhaps after the recipe adjustment, it will be bang on.

                        1. re: acd123

                          Just as I said - a little too salty, but no more than that. Certainly not so much as to make it less than delicious. Which is what Goldin's is. Delicious. I'll be cooking my medium part of the brisket tomorrow night. Of course, I know it will not be as unctuous as the deckle, as fat makes everything taste better, but I'm sure it will be fantastic!.... :)

                          1. re: redearth

                            i'm hoping to get in on the next batch whenever that is! Good product.

                          2. re: acd123

                            I found that it seems just slightly salty when you eat it plain, but not once it's in a sandwich. I ate a triscuit cracker (cracked pepper and olive oil) and it has either the same or slightly more saltiness than the meat.

                            1. re: foodyDudey

                              Yea it's much better when its in a sandwich with mustard, the saltiness isn't really as much of an issue.

                              I found when eating it the second day though, the salt was even more pronounced

                              Once the salt levels are fixed though, it will be damn near perfect

                            2. re: acd123

                              When did he adjust the recipe? Latest reports indicate its still salty... Hopefully he adjusted it for the next batch, not this most recent one... or his adjustments didn't work :(

                              1. re: duckdown

                                I'm not sure but my understanding is that he adjusted the salt on the last batch and will continue to reduce the salt until the recipe is perfect.

                                Following is an excerpt from an email he sent me recently:

                                "We reduced the amount of salt used in our curing, because of the comments made. We are doing it in increments... we want to get the balance right. We are preparing more briskets today and will reduce the salt content again... Basically I'm saying that we care about our customers opinions, have heard their comments and are addressing them."

                                1. re: acd123

                                  it's great that he's working on the salt issue, i really had a lot of trouble with mine last time and as much as i would try to eat it... the idea of my tongue stinging for hours afterwards kept me away.

                                  i'm surprised though that considering he's been doing this for a few years now he never noticed the salt issue himself. perhaps he has a high salt tolerance!

                                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                    Of course, salt is a very personal thing. Some on this board have commented that it is too salty, some think it's salty but not overpowering, and some have commented that it's just right. I'm sure Alex will find the perfect balance as he adjusts the recipe.

                                    Personally, I didn't find the meat even close to as salty as you describe it but as I said, it's very subjective :-) I found the meat to be a a bit salty but not overpowering and definitely still delicious.

                                    1. re: acd123

                                      I haven't gotten around to ordering one yet, so this is my personal opinion. It should be a bit too salty to eat on its own. Anything meant to be eaten w/ a starch like pasta or bread should be too salty on its own.

                                    2. re: pinstripeprincess

                                      I know he isn't one, but professional cooks tend to all have much higher salt tolerance than regular people.

                                      not sure why but it seems to ring true w/ the majority of cooks I know.

                                      1. re: aser

                                        i will admit that i am salt sensitive (though that has been changing recently), but what surprised me is that my tasting companion found it really salty and dear lord is their salt tolerance high!

                                        but to each their own as said before and who knows if one piece just happened to suck up more salt than the others.

                                        1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                          Where are they located and what's the telephone number? I'm having trouble locating the address of this place. Google is of no help (strangely)! :(

                                          1. re: moreana

                                            not strange at all. you are seeking an independent and unique source. google should have found this for you:


                                            it contains the information you are looking for.

                                            1. re: moreana

                                              I think you will find the email address somewhere in one of the threads on GOLDIN's. Here it is:
                                              The location is close to Runnymede and St Clair.

                                              1. re: foodyDudey

                                                It's actually closer to Runnymede and Dundas (1 or 2 blocks south of there).

                            3. I picked up a deckle and a medium piece and boiled them in the bag for 3 hours and let them cool in the bag and then rest on the board before slicing.

                              The meat was tasty, but I had trouble carving it up into thin slices like in redearth's photos... I found the meat shredded along the grain... do any of the experts here have any thoughts on what I did wrong?

                              As for the saltiness factor we did not find it too salty... and I definitely prefer Goldin's level of smokiness to Caplansky's, where my husband loves them both.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: LovelyAsia

                                I'm not an expert but my experience has been that with the deckle, you need a super sharp knife to get thin slices.

                                1. re: LovelyAsia

                                  you need a slicer knife, which is a thin long blade. The thin blade will result in less resistance while cutting through the meat. Technique is also important, you should have some lateral movement when slicing, either forward or backward. Going straight down will shred it apart.

                                  Finally the most important element is a sharp edge. I suspect your knife is dull.

                                  1. re: aser

                                    Thanks for the advice - and yes Aser, I think you are correct - my best and sharpest knives are all swiss chef's knives and I did not think they would be suitable for slicing... so I tried using my swiss bread knife which always works well on flank steaks, and then my thinnest knife which is an old wilshire with a self sharpener holder.

                                    Before trying Goldin's again I will have to go out and get myself a good slicer knife.

                                    Thanks again!

                                  2. re: LovelyAsia

                                    You can see the knife I used in this photo:


                                    It is manufactured by Wenger, the swiss company that is famous for its Swiss Army Knives. I bought mine at Canada Food Equipment, for around $60 - $70, if I remember correctly. It's one of my favourite knives - very flexible, and very easy to keep it razor sharp. Exactly what one needs for slicing through smoked salmon or Montreal Smoked Meat! You might find the knives here sold under the name Swibo, a subsidiary of Wenger. I highly recommend this knife.