Thursday, June 28, 2007

My 5 Favorite Sandwiches

Posted by Al Pastor

METHODOLOGY: I am a bachelor. I eat a lot of sandwiches.

PARAMETERS OF JUDGING: Tacos, hot dogs, burgers, shawarma, &c, while technically sandwiches and unquestionably delicious, are disqualified from consideration, constituting as they do their own discreet categories in which to be arrayed. Likewise, items which call themselves sandwiches, but which, while indisputably delicious, are not really "something on 2 pieces of bread meant to be eaten with the hands", like the 2-piece fried chicken/catfish sandwich available at most soul food purveyors and the potentially transcendent open-faced hot turkey or roast beef sandwich, have been removed from consideration for this list.

5. Parisian-style Ham and Cheese. Half a baguette, slit open and neatly layered with ham, cheese, and sweet butter. On the panini press for a minute, to melt the cheese and soften the bread, and you are on, Jack! Bi-Rite Market used to make a really nice version of this, but they changed their sandwich menu recently. It is better in France anyway.

4. Lucca Bros. Oven Roasted Pork, Mozzarella, & Pesto On Soft Sour. Uh huh.

3. Peanut Butter & Maduro Banana On Whole Wheat Toast. I had forgotten about peanut butter for most of my adult life, only to rediscover it the oily, superchunky versions on the fruit store shelves. The banana should be soft enough to spread on a separate piece of toast, and then you port-manteau the two sides into breakfast.

2. Bakesale Betty's Fried Chicken Sandwich. I always want to call "Bakesale Betty" "Backseat Betty". Discovering this sandwich was like discovering Pynchon, or The Museum Of Jurassic Technology. It was like I had been waiting for it. A crispy, juicy, fried chicken breast over vinegary, jalapeƱo cole slaw on a fresh, crusty torta roll. Go early. There is a line out the door at lunch, and they run out by about 2.

1. Fried Shrimp Po' Boy. Once there was a city called New Orleans, where for three dollars, in any tavern or corner liquor store, you could get a fifteen to eighteen locally farmed shrimps breaded lightly and fried up fresh to order, arranged along a skinny, soft, airy loaf. You would be asked if you wanted that "dressed up", to which you would reply "all the way" if you wanted shredded lettuce, tomato, dill pickle and mayonnaise. The dill pickle is essential, the rest can be taken as you like. I mostly went all the way. I am a dressed up all the way kind of guy. You would further be asked "Ketchup and hot sauce?" I always found it troubling that "all the way" did not go "all the way" to ketchup and hot sauce. But, I believe that fried seafood is elevated by hot sauce, and that not a lot is elevated by ketchup. Oysters work, too.

Honorable Mentions: Pat's Cheese Steak (quantifiably better than Geno's) and Sarcone's Special Italian in Philly. Central Grocery's Muffaletta; unlike the po'boy, which is nearly impossible to fuck up and is served in sublime incarnations almost everywhere, Central Grocery's muffaletta is much better than anybody else's. The Roast Pork bahn mi at Saigon Sandwich, which is disconcertingly cheap and ungodly delicious. And, of course, the steak sammy au jus at PFSH, although I mostly go for the $10 steak these days.



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