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Dec 5, 2009 09:39 AM

Montreal smoked meat (split from the L.A. board)

The Chowhound Team split this tangent from the Los Angeles board. If you know a source in L.A. for this item, please follow up here:

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Dr Bruin, thank you for that. I'm surprised to find Montreal smoked meat in LA, as you're right it's an acquired taste. I had never seen it here before. I'll have to go to RBC and try it.

Also, to the OP: You can find poutine at a few places in town. I haven't had a great version here in LA, but if you've got an itch you can find it.

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  1. Funny to hear how Montreal smoked meat can be an acquired taste. Its similar to pastrami (quite simialr to Katz pastrami in NY) with varying degrees of nuance depending on whos making it. If you like pastrami, chances are you'll like Montreal smoked meat.

    I'd describe a NY bagel as a bread donut (yeah with the hole baked almost shut) tasting very much like bread. A Montreal bagel (plain, sesame seed, or poppy seed) has a tang (along the lines of sourdough), density, and yes, an ever slightly smokey 'skin'.
    True, they are boiled before they are fire-baked (I'm told to give them a chewiness), but I don't know of anyone using honey-sweetened water to do this.

    5 Replies
    1. re: porker

      I agree it's like pastrami, in texture. But the spicing of Montreal smoked meat is the differentiator from pastrami. It has a more clove/allspice flavor that for the uninitiated expecting pastrami can be a dealbreaker.... but if you're expecting it, then it's fine.

      1. re: lil mikey

        OK, I can accept that. I think its more of a pepper/coriander thing.

      2. re: porker


        I've eaten at Katz' multiple times... enjoyed their pastrami and corrned beef on many occasions... They both may be meat but they are on different corners of the taste spectrum. I ordered the MSM at the recommendation of the server who told me it'd be just like pastrami... and when and after trying to hold down a couple of bites, I told the waitress it just wasn't for me and I'd like to order something else, off the menu and would be happy to pay for the MSM dish because I didn't like it... not that it wasn't executed properly. The waitress told the manager/owner, the owner of the RBC came out and acted like I just spit on the grave of his beloved grandmother. I never returned to the Redondo Beach Cafe after that episode.

        I didn't enjoy it. It had a much different and for me, unpleasant (but not like past- the-expiration-date-call-the health-department-unpleasant) taste and it didn't taste like any pastrami that I've eaten at any time in my life.

        I would have to second Lil' Mikey's description.

        1. re: DrBruin

          Whoa, wait a minute.

          Eating at Katz' and comparing it to Redondo Beach Cafe is really not what I was talking about.
          I live just outside Montreal and eat "Montreal Smoked Meat" regularly (Swartz', defunct Bens, Dunns, Lesters, the Main, Abies, Smoke Meat Pete, yadee yadah).
          I've been to NY and tried Katz' pastrami.
          What I am saying is that THESE (Schwartz' and Katz') two are quite similar.
          Of course you'll have the NY people saying Katz' is best and the Montreal people saying the Schwartz' is the best.
          Some people say both are best, just a bit different

          If lil mikey is correct in his description of Montreal Smoked Meat, I will assume he's refering to the RBC version, 'cause you shouldn't have a clove/allspice flavoring. If this is the case, he is not describing true Montreal smoked meat taste - as I mentioned, its a coriander seed/black pepper thing.

          I am presently making a Montreal style smoked meat brisket right now. It cured for 11 days, rinsed for 1/2 day, dried overnight, smoked for 5 hours, continued cooking another 7 hours. Its in the fridge now, wanted to eat it tomorrow, but other plans. Will steam it for 2 hours Monday afternoon and break bread (with mustard) with a select few friends and family
          )Lemme know if you want pictures, hehe.

          1. re: porker

            I'm talking Schwartz's in Montreal. I've never been to RBC.

            I may be wrong about the actual spices, but the taste is different from the pastrami I've had.

            Maybe it's an easier transition from MSM to pastrami; but from pastrami to MSM, it's a jump.