The Real Hot Pocket

*From time to time, we share the writing of our friends and co-workers on this site. Today’s guest post comes from the blog of Zingerman’s Deli staffer Maddie LaKind. Maddie’s blog is called WCcolumns.

This month marks my 2 ½ year anniversary as an employee at Zingerman’s Delicatessen. Two years filled with so many noteworthy sandwiches and far too many samples to count. As a saleswoman and general chatterbox regarding good food, people always ask me for my sandwich of choice (out of the 71 options on the menu), preferred pastry, or must-try side from the salad case. Over the course of my employment, my favorites have pretty much remained consistent. However, something happened this past summer that shook up my deli world—for good.

It was weekday-closing shift like any other. Sporadic waves of guests every twenty minutes or so, but on the whole, very relaxed. Upon perusing the menu for my employee meal for the day, I stumbled upon the traditional Jewish section of the menu, one I don’t visit all too frequently. Don’t get me wrong: matzo ball soup, kugel, and chopped liver all hold a special place in my heart, but they aren’t the most energizing fuel for the rest of a shift. But then, I saw it. An item so infrequently ordered and tragically forgotten about that I almost glazed right over it. That item was a cheese blintz.


For those of you whom have yet to experience the transcendental powers of a good blintz, let me provide a brief snapshot: a thin egg crepe is delicately wrapped around a fluffy, honey-scented cream cheese filling, pan fried in butter until golden brown, and served with a side of both homemade strawberry preserves and sour cream. Just to reiterate, that was crepe, cream cheese, butter, preserves, and sour cream. Together—in one dish. Now, if that doesn’t sound like the mother lode combination, I don’t know what does.

Despite my tendency for wolfing down food without any type of legitimate savoring, I used my re-acquaintance with the blintz to test out a new, more leisurely eating pace centered on tasting every component of the dish. After prepping my fork with a nice heap of jam, a light dollop of sour cream, and a knob of blintz, I took my first bite and was immediately elevated into a whole new realm of what any great, cheesy, buttery dish should be. Velvety, slightly sweetened cheese filling effortlessly melding with tart jam and slightly tangy sour cream, all united by a blanket of egg crepe. Rich. Creamy. Fatty (in the best way). And almost too delicious.

I have not eaten a whole lot of blintzes in my life, but even as a new fan, I think I can rank Zingerman’s version as an exemplary product on a number of accounts. First of all, the ingredients used are all selected on the basis of excellent quality and intense flavor. This means creating a filling with all natural cream cheese—no Philadelphia here folks—rich and floral chestnut honey, and house made crepes. Using cheese produced at the Zingerman’s Creamery on the south side of Ann Arbor, locally made preserves, and Guernsey Dairy (also local) sour cream, this dish is a proud celebration of local products and natural food practices, both of which, lets be real, everybody could use an extra dose.

Aside from all of the technical reasons why a Zingerman’s cheese blintz is such a showstopper, the bottom line is that it is just damn good comfort food. Like any great bowl of mac and cheese, order of fried chicken, or piece of birthday cake, the blintz is a dish to indulge in every now and then and, most importantly, without guilt; we are all deserving of those precious moments of food nirvana! So the next time you’re feeling the Zingerman’s itch, give the blintz a try. It never ceases to disappoint.