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What’s Good Today? The Pastrami Sandwich at Depanneur

By Peter Hobbs - Oct 01, 2011


Today we stop by Williamsburg’s sandwich and provisions shop Depanneur, in search of something good to eat. Managing partner Nichelina Mavros, whose innocent obsession with cheese led to a career in food, suggests a sandwich. A pastrami sandwich, to be exact, made with honey-brined, coriander-crusted smoked brisket from Brooklyn Cured, sweet and salty butter from Roberta’s, house-pickled shallots, and the pop-in-your-mouth caviar stylings of whole grain mustard from Tin Mustard…


At Depanneur, Nichelina Mavros suggests a sandwich. A pastrami sandwich.


OK Nichelina, what do we have today?


Well our sandwiches are pretty popular. We have a really nice selection of regional and European cheeses, and meats and breads, and all kinds of local goodies, really, so it seemed to make sense to take some of these great things we carry and use them to make sandwiches. [laughter.] So I think a sandwich would be a good place to start.


One of our special sandwiches features pastrami from Brooklyn Cured. We really love this pastrami. Scott Bridi grew up in Brooklyn and started Brooklyn Cured a few years ago after running Gramercy Tavern’s charcuterie program. He was a chef too, so he knows a lot about meat and a lot about flavors. He only works with local, pastured meats, and he makes all kinds of great things.


He makes the pastrami with this wonderfully fatty brisket. He brines it for days in honey and spices, then crusts it with coriander, peppercorns and mustard and smokes it. It is delicious. So flavorful, so good.


For the sandwich, we slice the brisket nice and thin, and serve it on a Pullman rye from Balthazar with sweet and salty butter from Roberta’s, some Tin Mustard, and pickled shallots. The Pullman rye is really kind of spectacularly soft and delicate. The butter from Roberta’s is amazing, of course – pretty much everything they do is. The Tin Mustard is another Brooklyn-made product. It’s a whole grain mustard – they don’t grind the seeds, so they kind of pop in your mouth like caviar when you eat it. And we pickle the shallots here.


The sandwich features honey-brined, coriander-crusted smoked brisket pastrami from Brooklyn Cured, sweet-and-salty butter from Roberta's, and whole grain mustard from Tin Mustard. Nichelina suggests pairing its creamy, smoky, pickly, meaty goodness with Belvoir's herbal, floral, sparkling elderflower soda.


So the rye bread and the butter and are both soft and creamy with hints of sweetness. The pastrami is really tender, and has that rich, smoky, meaty flavor combined with the sweetness of the honey brine and the spice of the coriander , mustard and peppercorn crust. The Tin Mustard carries the sweetness note too, along with that sharp tang and spice and that texture that kind of pops, and it works really nicely with the pickled shallot to cut the creamy, melt-in-your mouth fattiness of the butter and pastrami.


Some sandwiches are better when you heat them a bit – it can really bring out the flavors. Or if you toast the bread, to add some texture. We don’t heat this one or toast the bread or anything, because all the flavors and textures are so wonderful as they are that they don’t need any help. It’s a really great sandwich.


What would you pair it with?


Hmmm. You know what would go really beautifully with it? The Belvoir elderflower soda. It’s from England, actually. It’s made with freshly-picked elderflowers, a little lemon juice, and sparkling water from their local spring. That’s it. I love it. Its light, herbal and floral flavors and the bubbles would all counter and complement everything going on in the sandwich quite nicely, I think.



So Nichelina, how did you end up here?


I was born in New York, but I grew up mainly in Texas, where we ended up because of my dad’s work. I’ve been back here in the city for ten or eleven years, and I’ve been working in the food industry for most of that time.


It started with cheese. Cheese is kind of my passion. When I was in college, I found myself reading all these books about cheese rather than reading the books I was supposed to be reading. [laughter.] Right after college I worked the counter at Bedford Cheese, and then I was at Murray’s, working in wholesale for a while.


I thought I might like to cook, so I interned in the kitchen at Five Leaves in Greenpoint. I learned so much. It was really great. I love them there. But I realized that I really like working directly with customers. I like being in the front of the house.


So a few years ago a few friends and I decided to open this place. We opened just over two years ago. I’m the managing partner, so I get to do all the fun stuff, like picking the products and that sort of thing. But it also means I get to do the not fun stuff too, like the books. [laughter.]


Listen to us on Heritage Radio


Listen here.  


We're talking local and artisanal retail on this week's Let's Eat In! On this episode, Cathy Erway is joined by Nichelina Mavros and Celia Churcher of Depanneur in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Depanneur is located on North 3rd Street and Wythe Avenue, and specializes in fine cheese, bread, and charcuterie. Tune in to learn about Depanneur's new "fish C.S.A." that provides local, fresh fish right here in Brooklyn. Hear about the aims of Depanneur as a high-end bodega, with fresh sandwiches and local, real food. What's on the shelves at Depanneur that could be a part of the ideal date meal? Tune in to this week's Let's Eat In to find out! This episode has been brought to you by Whole Foods.




"There's so much amazing food going on in our neighborhood, and there's room for everybody." -- Nichelina Mavros on Let's Eat In


Tune-in to Let's Eat In on Heritage Radio


Are you just sitting at your computer, listening to some old record that you've heard a million times? Well turn that old music off and tune into Heritage Radio on Monday at one o'clock! You won't want to miss our very own to hear Nichelina Mavros talk about her passion for food, what's going on in the shop, and all the cool stuff that's going down on North 3rd. She and Celia will be heading to Roberta's to get silly and talk about running a shop that's not only local, but also curating a store that's selling the best stuff available.

You can live stream it HERE!