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1973 San Diego guide to cheesecake

Supermarket, specialty store, home baker

Although the West Coast is not noted for its Jewish delicatessens, cheese-cake production (and con-sumption)here is alive and well. In

fact, it has become less of an East Coast specialty — .now there are recipes like “The Detroiter,” “Californian Cheesecake,” and “Low-Fat Cheesecake”. After countless cheesecakes, one long distance phone call, and several gallons of gas, I have a good idea of the sizes, styles, and flavors of cheesecake to be found in San Diego. I'm sure there's a cheesecake for you.

THE SliPERMARKETER —

Your local SafewayAlphaBeta-VonsFoodBasket carries two kinds of cheesecake. For the frozen best

and most people are acquainted with it already there's Sara Lee “Original Cheesecake,” which costs around a dollar, and is a fantastic frozen food. One disadvantage: the frozen group takes over an hour for a complete thaw job.

The alternative is the mix. Royal and Jell-O offer ready-to-fix

cheesecake in a box for about half the price of the frozen variety. There are only a few extra ingredients you need to throw in, and after whipping the filling up in a bowl, you pour it into the crust and the whole affair goes into the refrigerator to set. Strong points: no need to bake in oven, rates “quick" on the time scale. Nice price, too. Weak points: tastes excessively sweet (I'd leave out the sugar in the crust), and it looks, feels, and tastes like pudding.

THE SPECIALTY SHOPPER —

If you want class, Alexander's European Pastries and Quality Cakes (625 Pearl Street in La Jolla) makes cheesecakes for the elite. Sandor Bajor and wife bake them for around six dollars each, and they must be ordered in advance — it raises the freshness standard a few notches.

Their European cheesecake has a delicate crust, lining nine inches (diameter) of thick. Huffy cheese filling and finished off with a cream topping speckled with fresh strawberries. Complaints: the topping was too soft (needs to be chilled awhile) and it could have contained less sour cream. At first the cake seems light — but wait an hour or so and your stomach will feel as though it were hit with a lead sinker.

The cheesecakes are sort of nice at Alexander's, however the price is not so kind. But don't panic — six dollars is not the running rate for cheesecake around the area. Up the coast, on 642 First Street in Encinitas, G. “Al” Meisner and Harry A. Adams have been operating Demar cheesecake bakery since Thursday, August 16.

They sell New York style cheesecake in lots of sizes and at eve-level prices. It's also ready when you are no waiting. Their range goes from liny — for one person they offer a cute little 4 oz. size costing 50 cents for plain, and 55 cents for honey flavor — to enormous: if you've got a crowd of sixteen to twenty people they make

a five-pounder priced at $7.50 for plain and marble, $7.75 for honey, and $8.00 for coffee or chocolate. Their average sizes go from $2.50 to $4.50 depending upon flavors.

The New York style recipe didn't start here: it was transplanted. Demar's main bakery is in Thornwood, N.Y. and they have a franchise on the East Coast which spreads from Boston to Washington, D.C. Their cheesecake is super-good though not extravagant (strawberries are not an added attraction). The crust is thin, but the filling is thick, rich and ‘tight’, as opposed to Alexander's ‘loose’ style. The ingredients are all natural. No artificial flavors, colors, or shortcut items. Demar gets a star for a good cheesecake all-around.

It has been rumored that Sam’s Home-made Cheesecake in San Diego makes the best in the area. Although they have been turning them out for about twenty-four years, and are now selling them in many supermarkets, restaurants and the like, I don't think Sam's is all what it’s cracked up to be.

I tried a strawberry cheesecake of theirs (they also have plain, rum. pineapple, chocolate, and of all strange flavors, galliano), which I bought at a nearby Big Bear express. I don't know whether their specialty is crust, but half of that cake was made of it. The strawberry part was simply a layer which coated the top of the V2 inch thick regular filling. I didn’t know' whether their cheesecake had always been this way, or whether it was simply one of the many victims of mass production.

To get a better idea, I made a visit to the ‘Home of Sam’s Home-Made Cheesecake' at 3202 Mission Blvd. The minute you walk in the door you are bombarded with stacks of cheesecake boxes. Out of the dim, dusty light came a salesperson, and I asked to speak to Sam. Not there. All right. 1 asked if it was true that damaged products or “seconds’’ were

available at a reduced price.

Yes, they could be bought at half price, but there weren’t any to be had at that time. There are three sizes of cheesecake, and I asked for a small, plain flavor. Well, small at that time came only in rum and galliano. So I bought a medium. I found the same generous amount of graham crust layered with 3A of an inch of cheese filling. Almost the same results as the supermarket cheesecake.

The filling is pretty good — I wish there were more of it to taste. The crust ain't so hot, especially the way they pack it in there. One thing I can say for Sam’s though, is that compared to everyone else's, their prices are “El Cheapo”. Small size costs only a dollar, medium is $1.50. with the large (serving 12 to 14 people) at a bargain rate of $4.00. The servings are average if you cut along the dotted line they trace across the top for each slice. THE HOME BAKER —

To obtain the most satisfaction from your cheesecake experience, you can make it yourself. Here’s my mom’s recipe:

Crust :

1 % cups graham cracker

crumbs (20 crackers)

!/4 cup finely chopped walnuts V2 tsp. ground cinnamon V2 cup butter or margarine, melted In bowl, combine crumbs, walnuts, and cinnamon. Add melted butter or margarine and mix thoroughly. Press on bottom and I V2 to 2 inches up sides of 9-inch springform pan. Comment: secret of added flavor iii this recipe is the fact that there are the finely chopped walnuts and cinnamon in the crust.

Filling:

3 eggs

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened (important that it be

room-temperature softened, otherwise there are lumps)

I cup sugar

2 tsps. vanilla I dash sail

3 cups dairy sour cream Combine eggs, cream cheese, the

I cup sugar, vanilla, and salt: beat until smooth. Blend in sour cream. Pour into crust. Bake in 275° oven for 35 minutes or till set: filling will be soft. (Slight trick in knowing when it's done soft but mustn't be too soft.) Cool: chill thoroughly,

4 to 5 hours. (Do not remove frame until chilled).

Can be served as is. or strawberry glaze may be made:

2 cups fresh strawberries V: cup water 4 tsps. cornstarch 1/3 cup sugar Crush 1 cup of the strawberries. Add water and cook 2 minutes; sieve (or whir in blender). Mix cornstarch and the sugar: slowly stir in hot berry mixture. Bring to boiling, stirring constantly. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. -------------------------------------

Cool to room temperature. Halve remaining berries.* Arrange atop cheesecake in a design; pour on glaze. Chill 2 hours. Makes 10 servings. 1

Some of youmaybe wondering by : now where the Jewishness of ; cheesecake wgnt. Try a delicatessen I near San Diego State called I Blumer's. Or. the ultimate — a ! short trip to New York for a nice 1 little Jewish Delicatessen around 1 2nd Avenue.

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