Best Deli in the West End

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Fast, friendly and healthy. Keith’s Deli is the west end’s best-kept secret. Located at 645 Gardiners Road, it’s a great choice for take away or eat in when you desire an appetizing lunch.

People line up for lunch from the cafeteria-style deli for thick, tasty sandwiches, delicious soups and fresh, crunchy salads. Long before there was a donut shop on every corner, Keith’s Deli has served up healthy, quick options. Many choose so-called healthy options through a drive thru window, but as the customers at Keith’s confirm: nothing beats a freshly made sandwich from Keith’s counter.

My days are often full, juggling work and family life. If I forget to pack a lunch, my stomach begins to rumble and scream for food. Recently, I found myself in just this predicament, darting across the west end looking for a place that serves tasty, homemade food. Keith’s Deli jumped out for its very local look and feel. Sadly, I had forgotten Keith’s around the same time I started working downtown and discovered the Golden Rooster. My visits to the west end limited to a movie or brief shopping trip. As soon as I pulled up to the familiar deli, the mouth-watering egg salad sandwich came to mind and I kicked myself for not being back sooner.

The deli has a home-style feel to it with its plastic tables and chairs; newspaper and magazines are available for your reading pleasure. It’s clean, comfortable and offers quick, healthy food.

Not many places serve up traditional sandwiches any more. The good old-fashioned egg salad, ham and cheese, roast beef, smoked meat and chicken salad have largely been replaced with stuffed paninis and focaccia, or worse, pre-wrapped subs. I was thrilled to see Betty behind the counter, still slathering butter on bread before adding meat and toppings. She smiled that familiar smile she has shown countless visitors. While she doesn’t know me, I feel like I know her. That’s the thing about Keith’s Deli -you get the same service every time. There are no surprises.

I ordered the special: cream of broccoli soup and the egg salad sandwich on whole grain. The bread did not appear homemade, but it was fresh. I have a thing for egg salad on sandwich bread. More often than not, these tasty morsels are only found at a funeral or the dreaded baby shower. (Yes, I just said that baby showers are worse than funerals.) My sandwich was stacked high with fresh egg whipped together with the perfect balance of seasoning and fresh

spring onions. One bite sent it oozing out the sides, but I managed to eat every last morsel.

Keith’s offers a traditional deli menu, including a variety of salads, sandwiches and other hot foods such as, lasagna, mac and cheese and homemade soups. A catering service is also available. You can pre-order online at keithsdeli.ca or by calling 613-389-7015 for your next small or large event.

There were few changes at Keith’s since my last visit. They now have free wi-fi, something every business should make available to customers. The deli changed ownership five years ago. It is no longer owned by its namesake, Keith, but you will happily discover that with owner Jason Song (and of course, Betty), it still doesn’t miss a beat. Same menu, same great service. In fact, they ask their customers to stay the same too.

There is a sign at the counter which reads: “Please put your cellphone away. Paying attention to someone when they are talking to you? There is an app for that, it’s called respect.” I missed this place.

If you have a restaurant suggestion or foodie biz you would like me to check out please email ladydinesalot@gmail.com or follow me on Facebook or my blog Ladydinesalot.com.

I’m a geek not a snob, thankyouverymuch.

The Joy of Coffee

I started this blog as a coffee lover’s way of paying homage to the beautiful beverage that has kick started my day for the last 20+ plus years.  Yes, I had my favourite brands and ways to prepare my coffee but honestly, the fact that it was caffeinated was what I cared about most.  You could serve me bad coffee but, jeezus, don’t offer me decaf.

coffee geekBut now after going to work in a café and then almost falling into a coffee roasting role that will most certainly change my life, my interest in the mighty bean has deepened and my thirst for coffee knowledge has increased tenfold. I want to know everything about the entire process from bean to cup.  I’m starting to sample a wider range of coffees and instead of automatically adding enough milk to reach the right shade of caramel before taking my first sip, I’m…

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Comfort is a warm, salty ball of rice

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Photo Credit: Vjessica

The words hung in the air. There was no going back. I wished they could be unsaid. Nevertheless, there they were. Something caught in my throat, but I still managed to say, “Don’t worry, cancer is just a word, not a sentence.” I proclaimed this with as much enthusiasm as I could muster.

Days away from retiring, Mom was told life-altering news. Over the previous few months, if not years, she had been dreaming and thinking about retirement. (Who doesn’t?) The celebration Caribbean cruise booked, Christmas shopping ahead, wedding anniversary toasts and many more adventures. Among those carefully laid plans, hospital stays and cancer did not feature.

A deep veil of sadness hung over us all. Mom is always smiling. Even in the darkest of times, she will find irony and humor. This time, all was quiet. She spent her time vehemently crocheting afghans, each stitch helping her to push through and make sense of this news.

Cancer: It knows no boundaries. Our family is not the only one touched by it. The clinic waiting room was filled with children, teens, and adults -young and old. Some had family and friends gathered with them for support. Others were on their own.

The course of treatment for Mom was surgery. She had a fantastic surgical team; each member took the time to answer all of our questions. The morning of surgery, Mom registered at the desk and we were handed a number. A large screen in the waiting room provides updates to family, so we were able to know where she was in her procedure at all times. It was as if she was checked baggage, and we could claim her at the other end.

The end, what did that look like? You always hope the individual comes out of surgery better off than when they went in. Mom’s recovery was tough, but with the help of the amazing staff and doctors at Kingston General Hospital, specifically Doctor Bryson and his team, she managed through it. It was a huge relief to find she was doing well, cancer removed.

We brought her home and slowly the smile returned. The weeks passed; Mom was feeling a new resolve. She’d kicked cancer’s butt, like so many courageous others. Then we got the call. It was an aggressive form of cancer and further treatment would be required.

These months have been hard on Mom and the whole family. We all feel the weight of cancer, but not as much as Mom does.

This weekend we were at a 40th birthday celebration for my cousin. Forty: the age where youth is behind you and death seems far enough away.

Since Mom’s diagnosis, life seems more like a gift then ever before, and birthdays that much more important.

The party was Mom’s first real public gathering since discovering she had cancer. The room filled with family, friends and babies scooting across the floor. I looked at her, studied the smile on her face, but then I noticed it…her eyes. I looked around to see if anyone else could see it, but it was hard to spot -her smile was so bright. However, there it was: cancer, its large black curtain pinned back at the corners. Driving home, I stopped in at a friend’s house. Expecting a quick cup of coffee, they handed me an onigiri, which is a Japanese grilled rice ball.

Onigiri is the original Japanese fast food, and simply means a ball of rice. It is generally a parcel of rice stuffed with healthy and creative fillings. The best part is that it’s easy to make, tasty, healthy, gluten-free and portable.

The warm and perfectly white onigiri sat in my hand. It was made of Japanese sticky rice, rolled and shaped into a neat ball filled with spring onions, soya sauce and creamy vegetable miso. I studied it, and pondered over whether to eat it. When I finally took a bite, it broke open revealing the salty warm goodness inside. It was delicious and nourishing.

That day, on the way home I let the tears fall. Through all the recent stress, it was a friend’s gift of food, a symbol of love, that gave the emotional support I needed.