San Jose Sharks fans: Augie’s Montreal smoked meats joining SAP Center

San Jose Sharks fans: Augie’s Montreal smoked meats joining SAP Center

For a few years now, Lex Gopnik-Lewinski has had his eye on that Canadian stronghold in San Jose.

You know, the neighborhood where hockey players and their followers converge.

Starting tonight, his Augie’s Montreal Deli will join the SAP Center vendor lineup and introduce San Jose Sharks fans to the pride of Montreal.

The first sandwiches will be sold before the puck drops against the Calgary Flames at 7:30 p.m.

A Canadian native who moved to the Bay Area in 1988, Gopnik-Lewinski used to bring his sealed, smoky haul back here after visits home — until one day when a Canadian customs officer confiscated his Montreal meat. That was when he decided he needed to learn from his friends up north and make his own.

Lex Gopnik-Lewinski, of Berkeley, owner of Augie’s Montreal Deli, cuts a Montreal smoke meat sandwich in Berkeley, Calif., on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. The Bay Area’s first Canadian deli, offers what is known as Montreal smoke meat, a cross between pastrami and corned beef. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

The dish dates back a century to the Hungarian Jews who immigrated to the province of Quebec. The working-class dish has become a staple at legendary restaurants like Schwartz’s, Snowdon, Lester’s, Reuben’s and Smoke Meat Pete (where Gopnik-Lewinski got his training).

After years of perfecting the recipe, the result was a pop-up and finally, in early 2018, the region’s first Canadian delicatessen, Augie’s Montreal Deli in Berkeley.

“Since we use the entire brisket you get the texture of corned beef and the rich, spiced goodness of pastrami,” Gopnik-Lewinski said. “We say it’s like pastrami and corned beef had a baby. We serve our hand-carved sandwiches on rye bread with your choice of either yellow or spicy brown mustard the way the good folks of Montreal intended.”

For SAP, he’s also making Montreal-style turkey breast, which is cured and seasoned with his signature spice blend and served on rye bread with mustard and/or mayo.

“It’s a turkey sandwich that is actually moist with incredible flavor,” he said.

Right now, SAP Center will be the only place where smoked-meat lovers can get a freshly made sandwich. It’s more of a DIY affair in the East Bay, where Gopnik-Lewinski is currently selling his meats at local markets while the restaurant is on hiatus.

Details: Augie’s Montreal Deli booth will be located on the Club level near Section 115. SAP Center, 525 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose. https://augiesmontrealdeli.com

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