Bringing pastrami to New York City might qualify as the stateside equivalent of taking coal to Newcastle. But when Nathan Myhrvold last year appeared on The Colbert Report, he served up his 72-hour sous vide short rib.
"Oh my God, oh my God," Colbert said after sampling it. "I don't need teeth. This is fantastic!"
All that's needed to appreciate the pastrami that's become a hallmark of Myhrvold's Modernist Cuisine is a working set of taste buds. The meat is almost terrifying tender, seemingly suspended between object and notion. Modernist Cuisine laboratory chef Maxime Billet has taken to serving the pickly marbled pastrami with equally magical sauerkraut, but the flavorful meat alone would summon a reel of deli memories. Only the first pastrami you ever had could possibly equal it.
Modernist Cuisine pastrami isn't on any permanent menus in Seattle, although Billet regularly prepares it for guests of his Bellevue kitchen. But, by virtue of its origins, it's a distinctly local dish. And its preparation - which includes brining, smoking and a dry rub - is outlined in Modernist Cuisine. Used copies are selling on Amazon for a mere $410.