fluffy towes

Carmen Jenner is a copywriter, journalist, travel writer, communications consultant and the founder of travel blog Fluffy Towel. She specialises in many industries including tourism, hospitality, aged care, health, real estate, property, business, charities and not-for-profits. Carmen is also the editor of Menu Magazine, catering to the Western Australian hospitality industry and hungry foodies.


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I’ll Have What She’s Having: New York City’s Jewish Food Scene

filed29 Apr 2020 from

Me enjoying Katzs’ legendary Pastrami Hot Sandwich

Thirty years have passed since Meg Ryan made cinematic history with THAT unforgettable climatic scene in When Harry Met Sally. While she orgasmically made her point, there’s certainly no fakery involved in pastrami sandwiches or bagels in New York City. Afterall, hundreds of years of civilisation have gone into the creation and enjoyment of Jewish food. There are few things as comforting as a matzo ball soup as falling snow silences the city. Or as iconic as dining at Katz’s Delicatessen in the Lower East Side (LES) to have what she’s having.

New York's Lower East Side

New York’s Lower East Side

Given a large proportion of the Jewish community who immigrated from Poland to NYC ended up in the LES, this gritty neighbourhood houses the largest Jewish population outside of Israel. The first recorded Jewish settler arrived in the mid-1600s, with the greatest influx in the late 1880s bringing with them their traditions, synagogues and food.

Located between the Bowery, East River, Houston Street and Chinatown’s Canal Street, tenement buildings are synonymous with the LES. Where the crowded working class once spilled out onto the filthy sidewalks, hipsters have now claimed it their own with funky bars, restaurants, galleries and shops. Once home to Lou Reed and rumour has it Lady Gaga has digs in the LES, Bill Clinton and the late Anthony Bourdain also got their pastrami fix from Katz’s.

Katzs Delicatessen

Inside Katz’s Deli

On arrival to Katz’s you’ll be handed a yellow ticket and whatever you don’t lose it as it will cost you $50 if you don’t return it when you leave. Work out what you want to order before you get to the counter, or you’ll be yelled at.

You’ve probably gathered by now that Katz’s Pastrami Hot Sandwich is legendary. It’s cooked for so long and is so tender and juicy that it would fall apart using a meat carver and must be hand carved to order. It’s best ordered with matzo ball soup, which are bready dumplings served in a homemade chicken broth; chicken soup for the Jewish soul. Many also order sides (knish) of potato, broccoli, spinach or the noodle dish, kasha. The serves are obscenely large so pace yourself and be like a New Yorker and take away the leftovers to enjoy later.

Other kosher favourites include chopped liver (“What am I, chopped liver?”) and the Corned Beef Hot Sandwich, where the beef is dry cured for a month. Add swiss cheese and sauerkraut and turn it into a Rueben Hot Sandwich, and a side of pastrami if you’re up to the challenge. There’s always a side of pickles to help cut through the grease.

Up close and personal with Katzs’ infamous pastrami sandwich

Another nostalgic favourite in the LES is Russ & Daughters known for their smoked fish, caviar, baked goods and bagels. New Yorkers take their bagels very seriously and believe that no bagel ever tastes as good as it does in New York due to the water. Joel Russ immigrated from Poland in 1907 and made a name for himself selling herring out of a barrel on a pushcart. Now a fourth-generation family business, smoked salmon slicers work in an open kitchen at Russ & Daughters honouring an over-the-counter tradition.

New Yorkers take their bagels very seriously

i lined up for 45 minutes at Ess-a-Bagel in Midtown founded by an Austrian baking family who have been hand-rolling bagels for 40 years. I had no idea there were so many variations ranging from cinnamon raisin and nine grain with honey, and that’s just the bagels. The choice of cream cheeses included chocolate chip, sundried tomato and cheddar. If you’re in a rush you can avoid the line and buy the fillings and bagels separately and prepare them yourself.

Salmon bagel from Ess-a-Bagel

Late one rainy night I stumbled upon 2nd Ave Deli and I learned two things. Seinfeld filmed an episode in this deli and New York is a city that does sleep as the deli was closing just as we arrived. They gave us our matzo ball soups to go and directed us to the tiny bar next door which was open until the respectable wee hours.

With all my friends in the 2nd Avenue Deli, where Seinfield once filmed

While delis used to be dime a dozen, especially in the LES, the ones that have survived have done so because of their loyal following and traditions. It’s difficult to imagine any place in Perth being in operation for so long, but there are kosher options that don’t require a gruelling 30-hour flight 12 time zones away.

Matzo ball soup, chicken soup for the Jewish soul


Pull out box: It’s kosher in Perth:

Kosher food conforms to Jewish dietary regulations and that’s where the saying “It’s Kosher” originates from.

Many cafes and bakeries serve bagels, but the Kosher Providore at the Perth Hebrew Congregation is a Kosher grocery, butcher and bakery, including boiled bagels. Check with your favourite butcher and re-create your own pastrami sandwich stacked high.

Satchmo Café serves Jewish favourites such as bagels, matzo ball chicken soup, knish (Jewish potato pastry) and corned beef.


Pull out box:

What is pastrami?

It’s usually beef and sometimes pork, mutton or turkey that’s brined, seasoned, smoked and steamed.

New York’s tenement buildings

Originally published in Issue 27 of Menu Magazine https://issuu.com/camallen_scribe/docs/mm27_2019/48

New York City: Peace and the City

filed21 May 2019 from

The most obvious place to seek serenity in any city is within the leafy confines of a park. New York has no shortage of open green spaces, and plenty of clandestine pockets of calm.

Known as the lungs of the metropolis, Central Park has many secluded spots within its 840 acres of vastness. Lose your thoughts on the elm-tree line Mall and Literary Walk or go into hiding in the secret garden within the Conservatory Garden or retreat into the …

Sex in a Sarong: the night I met Candace Bushnell, the real Carrie Bradshaw

filed21 Apr 2019 from



My floor-length is gown is hitched up around my thighs. Not quite the entrance I had envisioned for a soirée with Candace Bushnell, author of Sex and the City. Fireflies flit along the shoreline as I step out into the Indian Ocean where the water is as warm as the sky is midnight blue. The tiny island of Taprobane off Sri Lanka’s southern tip flickers in candle light as we wobble our way along the watery path …

The night I met Anthony Bourdain

filed09 Jun 2018 from

From drug-addled chef to successful author and TV presenter, Anthony Bourdain wasn’t only a storyteller but a story creator. He lived the stories he told not merely as an observer, but as a participant, and in doing so, he connected us to worlds many of us will never experience.

I’ve been a die-hard fan since encountering his first book Kitchen Confidential; I’ve savoured every word many times over. I was thrilled to discover he hosted an entire TV series, …

Have child, will travel

filed27 Jul 2017 from



As soon as my daughter was born, I knew her arrival would alter the shape of my life for all eternity. Determined to continue travelling amid the routine, tantrums, sickness and fatigue, I figured the sooner I introduced her to the joys of travel the easier it would become. But no amount of planning can prepare you for the inevitable stance a young feisty lady can take. Little Miss Manhattan, indeed!

While there is plenty of information available …

The Artists of the Margaret River Region wins a gold IPPY award

filed27 Apr 2017 from

I’m thrilled to announce The Artists of the Margaret River Region has won a gold IPPY award in the Non-fiction Australia/New Zealand category at the 2017 Independent Publisher Book Awards in New York City. As the author of The Artists of the Margaret River Region, I had the daunting task of interviewing and crafting the profiles of 80 artists from the Margaret River region. Please click on the cover below to enter a kaleidoscope of paint, ink, pencil, pastel, …

Richard Avedon photography collection comes to Perth

filed06 Aug 2014 from

Never has the expression “A picture is worth a thousand words” rung more true than in the instance of photographer Richard Avedon.

Currently displayed at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth is very fortunate to only be the second city in the country to host Avedon’s exhibition. It’s the closest most of us will ever get to the famous faces peering out of their frames; especially since many of them are no longer with us. Framed specifically for this …

Permanent Impressions: Independent Publisher Book Awards Winner

filed01 May 2014 from

I’m very proud to report Permanent Impressions: A salute to contemporary heroines won Bronze in the Best Regional Non-fiction category for the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards, also known as the IPPYs. It was an absolute honour to work on such an amazing project with the incredibly talented artist Jana Vosedil and dynamic Carina Hoang of Carina Hoang Communications, who incidentally won Silver for her Boat People book in 2012. Permanent Impressions pays homage to 50 of Western Australia’s …

5Pointz(less) act of destruction

filed20 Nov 2013 from

In what is deemed as a spiteful act on the owners part, 20 years of graffiti art has been wiped clean at 5Pointz. The sprawling warehouse in Queens has been a graffiti mecca for artists all over the world. The dilapidated building complex has been earmarked for demolition for the end of 2013 to make way for luxury apartments. Perhaps the whitewashing of the artwork is a humane approach to the art-clad walls being pulled down, but I’m in …

Van Gogh, Dali & Beyond: The World Reimagined

filed02 Sep 2013 from

The Perth Winter Arts festival may officially be over for 2013 but the delights continue with the likes of Picasso, Van Gogh and Dali. Since they’ve travelled in outstanding company all the way from New York’s MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) it would be foolish to not rush to the Art Gallery of Western Australia to bathe in their glory, angst and pain.

Van Gogh, Dali & Beyond: The World Reimagined is visually stunning and inspires many awe-inspiring moments where …