Our Cuban Sandwich adventures recently took us to Harrisburg, Pa. Located along the banks of the Susquehanna River, the state capitol is home to a bevy of five star restaurants that cater to the pols and professionals who do business in this bustling little town. If you’re a history buff, Harrisburg has got the scratch for your itch. After the Revolutionary War, it was on the short list of cities that were considered for the nation’s capital. Thanks to a stalemate between a couple of state senators, it never came to pass. I’m pretty thankful about this, considering what a shit show local traffic is now. Plunk the White House down on 3rd Street and every peep within a 75 mile radius would need a helicopter to get around.
They say the journey is the thing, and lemme tell you . . they ain’t kidding. Our car ride into the ‘Burg was the kind of big fun that only a road trip can provide. We shared darkly ministered observations on life, love and all the stupid shit in between. We tallied the annoyances of our week, tossed around ideas for the next Cuban sammy destination and figured out how to achieve world peace, (It involves copious amounts of hallucinogens.). For good measure, we tossed in the Pulp Fiction soundtrack which is a road trip must have for its versatility- it can serve as an interactive rhapsody and a funky accompaniment that will not intrude on solid conversation.
Los Tres Cubanos is the perfect Caribbean getaway, seeing as how you’ll save tons on airfare, sunscreen and lawyers . . . in the event of an international incident. It’s a corner joint in the most literally beautiful sense of the word. The walls are dressed in brightly colored art pieces that marry a small island’s vivid imagery to the funky soul of its people, music and revolutionary past. Everything about the place is a preach on minimalism- from the cleverly small space that feels less like a restaurant and more like home to the menu, which is buttoned up and all business in its brevity. I like that.
After a round of drinks that served as the opening of business, we ordered La Cubanita. The dish consists of a Cuban sammy, maduros (sweet plantains) and black bean soup. The thing about Cuban cuisine? It’s where comfort and soul food meet, combining the staples of rich and hearty meals with recipes handed down from generation to generation, each dish brimming with great flavors and well worn stories. After paying some divine attention to the second round of drinks, I slam dunked a couple maduros into my black bean soup before we decided to toast our Cubanos and ride.
That’s when Cuba met libre as far as our taste buds were concerned. The essentials- ham, pork, pickles, Swiss and mustard- mingled in a salsa dance that had us toasting our second round of adult beverages whilst our third round hit the table. It took a few bites before our deliberations became more exacting, and a tad less forgiving. The point deductions were beginning to take shape as we crunched out our research results and bent our elbows with the latest round of frosty friendlies. This is hard work, yanno?
We had a huge problem with the bread. And if you’ve ever had a Cubano, you know full well that the bread serves as the shepherd to its tasty flock of flavors. The bread must be a solid pair of shoulders, able to sustain the demanding lean of its savory compadres. This bread? Ain’t that.
While I have the red pen out, I have to say the Swiss was playing a different tune as well. It wasn’t content on being a creamy role player whose melt divined a warm and soothing hug. The overplayed hand mitigated the succulent pork, decadently sweet ham and spicy, crunchy pickle; not to mention the mustard applique that was done up just right. Taken as a whole, it’s a delicious dig that rated 7 out of 10. And no, that wasn’t the several rounds of adult beverages talking . . . hey, we’re professionals.
BONUS TIME!- The flan and the espresso were absolutely spot on. I mean, they were so good that if you promised us we could partake of this sweet and sinful conclusion every night for the rest of our lives but we had to live under a communist regime . . it just might be worth it. I’m hoping this totally harmless statement doesn’t get us red flagged by the Department of Homeland Security, but in the event it does, I have one request of my homies . . .
Send lawyers, guns and money.