Food And Drinks

‘Modern, un-kosher’ Deli Desires in Colonialtown give you a proper case of Deli Belly | Restaurant rating | Orlando

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As teenagers, my friends and I couldn’t really care why someone would eat a tuna salad sandwich or what fascination our Jewish friends had with salmon and bagels – we disparagingly referred to everything as “white food.” After all, our colorful crew grew up with the bold flavors associated with Caribbean, Indian, Chinese and Middle Eastern cuisines. The dismissive attitude was in part a retaliation against the ribs we took – sometimes from each other, but mostly from white friends – for the fragrant home-style food we used to eat in the school cafeteria.

But to find solidarity in the slander of “White People Food” and its seemingly pale, mild profile didn’t last long. Eating fluffy Toronto-style bagels from Gryfe’s and pastrami-on-rye sandwiches at Wolfie’s Deli on Bathurst Street not only helped develop our culinary sensibilities, it also sparked our interest in more “white people food” – Schnitzel, goulash, corned beef and cabbage, even Boeuf Bourguignon (there was a French bistro, Café en Passant, across from our high school). It’s easy to see why Multicultural Day became so important in our high school – not exposing white culture to white perspectives and vice versa.

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Now I’m not going to profess my love for tuna salad or salmon anytime soon, but I can appreciate them much more now than I did as an uninformed 15 year old. From Deli Desires, the lively breakfast and lunch place in Colonialtown owned by husband-wife tandem Hannah Jaffe and Nathan Sloan, I tried a salmon – in this case Gravlax – that was layered in a toasted bialy with red onions, capers and tomatoes and Cream Cheese ($ 12). I will never think about it (my wife did) but I was impressed with the bialy. This uncooked, malt-free cousin of the bagel has a depression (not a hole) in the middle that was decorated with caramelized onions. I ordered one with “all” butter ($ 5) and I swear I could have eaten three or four of these guys in one sitting. Instead, I absolutely peeled a Labneh Bialy with marinated cuke, pickled onions, and herb salad ($ 8). I now understand all the hustle and bustle that has only been gushing around Deli Desires on Instagram since her days.

Explore Jaffe’s past and names like Michael Voltaggio and Jessica Koslow emerge: Jaffe cooked with the LA stars at Ink and Sqirl, while Sloan cooked with Beard Award winners Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo in their seafood restaurant Son of a Gun in Los Angeles worked together. Despite those family trees on the west coast, Jaffe and Sloan met at the Hideaway Bar and got married at what is like the Orlando thing at Redlight Redlight.

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Labneh Bialy - PHOTO BY ROB BARTLETT

  • Photo by Rob Bartlett

  • Labneh knows

I’m lucky enough that they decided to stay here and put down roots because I’m not sure I could live without their Corned Beef “Big Mac” which comes with lettuce, American cheese, pickles, onions and, yes, special sauce ($ 10) is coated. It’s a Martin sesame bun, which is the only thing not made in-house. Well, that and that packaged and piggy scrapple – “This is a Jewish deli, but a modern, non-kosher one,” says Sloan. So whip some bacon on the latke sandwich ($ 8), a handheld that’s even more filling than the “Big Mac”. Egg and American cheese combine with the fat potato pancake, which is filled in a sesame bun. There’s even a smear of Dukes Mayo for a little Mediterranean twang.

I couldn’t possibly leave without trying some of their freshly made sweets, and I just want to say that both the strawberry manischewitz challah bun ($ 6) and the brownie with tahini drizzle ($ 5) go well with a brewed one Americano ($ 3.25) match with St. Pete’s Bandit Coffee. I should mention that I also ordered the beet, fennel, and walnut salad ($ 3) but found it wasn’t there when I opened the takeaway pouch at home. Oops. Hey it happens, and besides, there are plenty of ways to try this salad along with all the other things I haven’t tried – the sandwiches, various pickles, homemade lemonades, and (gulp!) Even the tuna salad.

There is just so much to discover – so many wishes that have yet to be fulfilled.

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Janet Smith