Thursday, December 06, 2012

Forget Jim DeMented, and Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff. I came THIS CLOSE to running into Katie Holmes at the Carnegie Deli!


UPDATE: For a picture of the $24.95 Carnegie
Deli Reuben (the pastrami version), see below

Inquiring minds want to know: Did Katie
eat that turkey Reuben all by herself?

by Ken

I know we should be talking about world-changing stuff, like SC Sen. Jim DeMented's decision to move his Senior Crazyman's Caucus of One from the Senate to the Heritage Foundation, presumably to eliminate any possible confusion about the quality of thinking coming out of a "think" tank that was once known as merely right of center. (This must also come as a relief to SC's other senator, "Loopy Lindsey" Graham, who seems to be living in terror these days of being primaried from the Far Right in 2014, and can hope that some of the crackpot energy may instead be diverted to the special election for the seat that by then will be occupied by whatever troll Gov. Nikki Haley appoints on an interim basis. Does anyone seriously disagree, by the way, with Greg Sargent's view that "Jim DeMint will be at least as damaging outside the Senate as he was inside it"?)

Or we might talk about the spectacle just observed of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay "lunching with disgraced superlobbyist Jack Abramoff at a back table in Sushi Taro near Dupont Circle" (as reported today by the Washington Post's "In the Loop" maestro Al Kamen).

But I have something more personal to talk about -- the week's really big lunch story. It's one of those eerie, life-altering coincidences that grabs you by the neck and reminds you just what a small world we live in. It's this report of no less a personage than Katie Holmes being seen walking into New York's Carnegie Hall and buying a sandwich"! Now, now, try to get hold of yourself. I know this by itself is pretty astounding news, and you're probably already screaming, "No way!" "Way," my friends!

Katie Holmes Grabs Lunch at Carnegie Deli

December 5, 2012 4:33pm | By Trevor Kapp, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MIDTOWN — Katie Holmes strode into the famed Carnegie Deli in high heels Wednesday afternoon to order a New York City classic: a turkey Reuben on rye.

The former "Dawson’s Creek" star, who separated from husband Tom Cruise in June, came with a man who appeared to work with her and a security guard, and paid for the $24.95 sandwich by credit card.

“She was wearing the highest high heels I’ve ever seen — like 5 to 7 inches,” said Carnegie Deli Manager Jose Robles, 52. “She had on dark pants and a light sweater.”

Robles said the security guard made sure no pictures were taken of the brunette as she waited inside the Seventh Avenue deli for about five minutes.

He said he gave Holmes the deli’s number and told her to call in advance next time to pre-order her sandwich to avoid the wait.

“She said ‘Thank you very much. I appreciate it. I’ll give you a call next time before I come here,’” Robles said.
No, the eerie coincidence is that this extraordinary event, Katie Holmes buying a turkey Reuben, happened a mere eight days and, oh, about 18 hours (I don't know the exact time of Katie's sortie) after I myself seriously considered stopping in the Carnegie Deli to take out a corned beef on rye -- not lean, as fatty as possible -- and a kasha knish. I know that people do order other things at the Carnegie, and I always think this must be because they don't have faith that the corned beef will be not-lean enough, and will consequently have the mouth feel and taste of construction material, possibly necessitating the purchase and consumption of an extra Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray. Hey, I've been there. You put in your order, and all you can do from there is hope. Well, I suppose you could pray, on the theory that perhaps God staffs a desk that deals with deli issues as well as the one that handles sporting events.

To be absolutely clear, when I occasionally -- very occasionally these years -- allow my Carnegie Deli walk-bys to turn into walk-ins, I don't indulge in the Cel-Ray, not even a first one. I mean, a person has to have some discipline in life, to draw some lines. I don't know if you know the size of a Carnegie Deli sandwich (roughly a football), or of that knish (also pretty big). A person has to have some discipline.

There was a time in my life when I spent a lot more time in that part of Midtown -- say, in the lower-mid 50s between Fifth and Seventh Avenues. And so I might often be trudging west and then north toward in the general direction of the Columbus Circle subway station, to head home. And it was amazing how often that trudge took me directly past the corner of Seventh Avenue and 55th Street. If it happened to be kind of late at night, as it frequently was during a time when I was doing frequent after-work-hours free-lance work at a location in the above-delineated zone, and if it was really late, even though I was being paid by the hour and should have been happy, I was usually miserable enough to feel that I deserved that corned-beef sandwich and kasha knish -- though not, as noted, the Cel-Ray (especially after Dr. Brown's discontinued the Diet Cel-Ray, a dark day in the beverage world, let me tell you).

One time I had to think of a possible lunch site for an out-of-town friend with whom I was attending a matinee performance at the NY City Center, and clearly my reflexes were dulled, because it took whole minutes for me to realize that City Center is just down the block on 55th Street from -- you guessed it -- the Carnegie Deli! She turned out to be not quite prepared for that particular spectacle (for one thing, she had no idea of the portion size of the victuals she ordered), and wasn't feeling well on top of that, but it wsn't a total loss. We had hugely entertaining newbie out-of-town diners on either side of us at the table, and best of all, our waitress happened to be the very one who was featured most prominently in a Food Network special on the Carnegie. She gave us a show to remember.

Last week, as it happened, for three consecutive nights I found myself at the transit-challenged corner of Fifth Avenue and 54th Street -- for a three-recital series of the complete Beethoven violin sonatas. The only practical route I could come up with, short of walking all the way to Columbus Circle, was a three-train-er: the E one stop to Seventh Avenue, then the D or B one stop to 59th Street (Columbus Circle), and finally the A all the way uptown. But as anyone knows who has ever tried a three-train subway trip, once you've had the experience of waiting 10 minutes for each train, you swear never to do it again. As it happens, on Tuesday night I did try it, and it worked fine, and I pushed my luck again on Wednesday, and again it worked fine.

But on Monday, ah Monday, I hadn't been so courageous. I set out on the long march toward Columbus Circle, and as I headed west on 54th Street from Fifth Avenue to Sixth, some distant voice in my brain sounded a Midtown Geographic Alert. At Sixth Avenue, the traffic lights were such that I walked up a block before heading west again on 55th Street, and somewhere between Sixth and Seventh Avenues I came to full awareness of exactly where I was. And then there it was, up ahead!

It was touch and go there for a while. There were the voices inside my head screaming "corned beef" ("not lean -- as fatty as possible") and "kasha knish" ("but potato is OK if you don't have"). And there were less prominent, less listened-to voices saying, "What are you, nuts?" What tipped the balance, in the end, wasn't any sense of rectitude. It was more in the nature of a sense memory. From that geographic point (i.e, the takeout counter at the Carnegie) I'm still probably 45 minutes from home, first walking to the subway, then waiting for the train and riding uptown, then walking from the subway. My concern wasn't so much that the food was cold. After all, if I'm feeling that food-temp-fussy, I do have a microwave, and I know that they used the damned microwave too! No, the problem is more that during that travel time, the food in the bag will be constantly announcing its presence not just via voices of its own but via aromas. And a person can't really be unwrapping a Carnegie Deli-size corned-beef sandwich or kasha knish on the A train for on-site devourment, can a person? (I'm not going to sign any affidavit that says I've never done it. I mean, who's to say that a person might not, say, unwrap one side of the knish wrapping with a view toward maybe just nibbling. Speaking purely hypothetically. Because in the real world the person might find that it doesn't work all that well.)

And so, in the end, I walked on by. And a mere eight days and however-many-hours later, Katie rode those magnificent high heels right on in and orderer her turkey Reuben! What are the odds?

Of course anyone who has frequented the Carnegie Deli knows that the kind of managerial fawning Katie got is not what your average customer expects. What your average customer expects is: (a) to wait patiently to be allowed to give your order (especially if you're eating in, at one of those times when there's a monster line for seating at the communal tables), (b) to get your food, and the whole time (c) to get a vaudeville-worthy show from your server. That's the deal. But apparently not if you're Katie Holmes. (I was also caught short by that credit-card payment for Katie's turkey Reuben. My recollection was that they don't take credit cards, but I could be wrong, or they could have changed that. I certainly don't mean to suggest that this too was an extraordinary service provided to a famous person.)


Our friend me comments wonderingly on the price tag of that turkey Reuben. Pictured here is the pastrami Reuben, not the turkey (you'll note that it also comes in corned beef), but I think the photo gives us the general idea.

The price, you'll note, is the same for the corned beef, pastrami, and turkey Reubens -- and $24.95 is in fact the price for a number of the Carnegie Deli specialty sandwiches. My modest just-plain-corned beef (see above) is a mere $16.95. (The online-posted menu is here.)

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At 8:22 PM, Anonymous me said...

the $24.95 sandwich

Jesus H. Christ

At 9:51 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Fair point, me! I've posted a photo of the pastrami version of the Carnegie Deli Reuben, but I'm not sure it gives a fair idea of just how big this monster is. The Carnegie sandwiches are hardly inexpensive, but like most portion sizes there, they can hardly be accused of not providing good value.


At 11:26 PM, Anonymous me said...

You got a point. You could feed the family with that.


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