Pure invention

Want a pickle with that? The portabella mushroom sandwich at Yosh's Unique Deli.

Want a pickle with that? The portabella mushroom sandwich at Yosh's Unique Deli.

Photo by AMY BECK

Yosh’s Unique Deli & Catering is open Mon. through Wed., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thurs. through Fri., 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sat., 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

If you put Thomas Edison in the kitchen with Shakespeare as his sous chef, you could begin to understand the remarkable talent of Josh Codding. His culinary skills are inherited, he’s a third generation restaurateur, and when he set his preparation in front of me, I didn’t know whether to patent it or kiss it. I was more inclined to appreciate the art than eat the sandwich, since it was made with such enthusiastic creativity and heartfelt passion for food, but I succumbed to my gastronomic instincts.

Codding runs Yosh’s Unique Deli & Catering with his mother and aunt, both veterans of the restaurant industry. The sandwich shop seats about 40 people. Nothing fancy, but then again, fresh baked breads, in-house smoked meats, soups and salads made from scratch, and fresh squeezed lemonade are the beginnings of this epiphany for your palate.

Codding spent five years as a firefighter with the Forest Service and realized he could embrace the smoke and fire in the kitchen rather than fight it in the woods. He spent a couple of his early years exploring the tastes of cuisine in Europe and South American educating his budding, epicurean curiosity. And almost daily, he can spend three or four hours on Google “challenging the originality of his creations.”

“I keep a journal of everything I think of and all the ingredients … not so much exact measurements, but what I think sounds like something that will have unique flavors and a lasting memory for people who try it,” said Codding, before taking out his hardcover book filled with hand-written menu ideas, notes and poetic culinary machinations. I heard excitement in his words and saw passion in his eyes.

He served me his Cuban Cornish game hen soup ($2.99 cup, $3.99 bowl) with veggies like asparagus, onion, celery, red bell pepper and serrano peppers with a blond roux to give it just enough thickness—not super creamy, more like a gravy consistency. This offering played flavors of cumin and coriander, a dash of tart-spicy, fused into the solids. It was hearty with just a little peppery lift and layers of flavor. Codding says, “With everything I do, I want to push the palate.”

First nosh, Cinque Terra ($6.99 whole, $3.99 half) with real, in-house roasted turkey, prosciutto, aioli, tomato bruschetta, lettuce and Provolone cheese on a pesto Parmesan served hot. Tissue-paper-thin slices of turkey and prosciutto with a Roma tomato creation on the bread filled my mouth with captivating flavors of the meats and that exuberant, tomato seasoning, finished with pesto and Parmesan.

Yosh’s offers vegetarian dishes and the portabella ($6.99 whole, $3.99 half) is a prime example. Grilled portabella mushrooms and Anaheim peppers, aioli, pepper jack cheese, and a balsamic reduction amaze the tongue. The mushrooms were firm, yet moist, and the peppers were grilled-to-perfection to add a gentle bite with the slightly sweet, savory, balsamic reduction causing a titanic experience in your mouth as it goes down.

Codding shops every day for the freshest and best produce, spending hours in the effort, and he tries to buy local. He gets fresh herbs from Wellington delivered a couple of times a week. He puts passion into everything he creates.

The sides offered, all made fresh daily, include everything from potato salads, to veggie pastas, to vegan, quinoa salad. Desserts include Tata’s bread pudding—his grandfather’s recipe—Kahlúa brownies, and a unique carrot cake. Codding reminds me of the old George Bernard Shaw quote, “There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”