Our search for the perfect Cuban sammy does the ‘Rumba’

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Sup homies! Linds B here. A very close human of mine, Ali Clark, took a lovely little trip to Florida for her graduation! Naturally with her being in a part of the U.S. that Marco and I likely will not travel to (for the Cuban sammy challenge at least), we had to ask her to snag a Cubano while she was down there. And of course, she delivered! Here is her review on her Floridian Cuban experience!

Hello all – I am very new to doing the Lord’s work, so I’ll be trying my best to live up to the Cubano-aficionado’s review standards.

While here in Naples I was told to seek out the best Cuban sandwich around, so I did what any person today would do and googled “best Cuban sandwich in Naples”, bringing me glowing reviews of Rumba Cuban Cafe. This cafe is a family owned business with two locations both with a 4.5 star rating and a slew of reviews, many boasting about THE BEST CUBAN SANDWICH IN NAPLES!!!!! So naturally this was the place to check out.

Rumba’s was only about 2 miles from my Airbnb so I hopped in the car and got the only parking space left in the lot. This place was PACKED. So much so that you couldn’t even go inside, and I got the last table outside (lucky me, right?). Within 5 minutes we had 4 different waitresses ask us what we wanted to drink – I was almost afraid I was going to end up with 4 beers. I was a little afraid at first because their FAMOUS CUBAN SANDWICH wasn’t even on the menu… but luckily it was still something I could order. I didn’t come a whole 2 miles to leave empty handed ya know.

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When this experience started to go sour was when the wait for food started to take pretty long, almost 45 minutes. Granted, there were a lot of people there but I was hoping that meant that my Cuban was going to be made with a lil extra love… but I’m not so sure about that.

Now – I’ve probably only ever had one other Cuban in my life so I could be COMPLETELY wrong here – but this was not a good one, despite being told seven times by staff how amazing it was going to be. I’m not sure if they’re trained for this or how every waitress found out I had ordered a Cuban, but every single one of them felt the need to comment on this fantastic journey I was about to embark on. Out comes my sandwich, placed in front of me as if it is a bar of solid gold (I’m really not kidding about that, it felt like I was sinning to even touch it) and it looked pretty mediocre. I’m willing to look past a not so great exterior, because it’s what’s on the inside that counts right?? Well, this was very lackluster in that department as well.

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For the first bite I was expecting an even amount of everything since it’s technically the middle of the sandwich, but all I was left with was a mouthful of dry pork. The bread was reminiscent of cardboard left out on a humid day – not much of a crunch, not completely soggy- it was a weird in between. The pork never got juicy even though the whole sandwich was dripping in grease, so no matter how long I chewed, it was still what I imagine the consistency of mulch is. And lastly, the cheese was nowhere near melty enough. I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing I love more than super melty cheese (well I guess there are a few things but that’s pretty high on the list).

The Verdict

Overall it WAS a Cuban sandwich, it DID have all of the necessary ingredients but it lost points for all of the above issues. Out of 10 this Cuban unfortunately deserved a 4. It lost 1 point each for the bread and excess grease, and 2 points for dry pork and lack of melt.

Hopefully the next round of Cubans blows this one out of the water. Til next time!

Big thank you to Linds B for the intro and to the lovely Ali Clark for being our first ever correspondent here at sorryless! Linds and me gave her this assignment (begged her) at the last minute and she nailed it. After which she went skinny dipping and then had a champagne party to celebrate her college graduation.

Kurt Vonnegut would be proud.

The Twinkies Post (Fat Free, Sticky Sweet!)

Twinkies

In an uncertain world, where Starbucks coffee comes with cancer warning labels and bottled water is hazardous to your health, it’s nice to know that some things never change. Eat enough Twinkies, you’re gonna die. Same as it’s ever been. Why do you think Tallahassee crushed so hard on them in the movie Zombieland? Because he knew he had nothing to lose. It’s quite simple, really. When you come to the end of the sidewalk, choose the thing that will kill you and at least you’ll die happy.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank a few WordPress peeps before sharing my Easter night festivities. Tails Around the Ranch supported the idea of a peanut butter and honey drizzle Twinkie, to which I tried my hand at. A Frank Angle inspired me with tales of Twinkie-ology at the Iowa State Fair. And A Dalectable Life was so repulsed by the thought of a Twinkie, that I had to share my exploits with her. She could (and should) have her own cooking show, and as such, can be . . . how do I say this politely? A bit of a food snob . .

So on Easter night, me and my daughter decided to provide a reboot to the Twinkies franchise. Because if Spider Man and The Hulk can come up with another forgettable flick every twelve minutes . . why not bring our smack take to the golden snack cake?

Zombieland

We were well aware of the risks. After all, the re-writing of history is a tempestuous undertaking, rife with pitfalls and purists, critics and crooks. And Twinkies, well . . they have a history with us Americans. First produced in an Illinois bakery in 1930 as a means of using shortbread pans that had become obsolete, the snack cake was an instant hit. Interestingly, the original filling for Twinkies was banana creme but during World War II, banana imports dried up, so the company moved to vanilla filling and never looked back- save for the occasional tinker and trial every now and again.

Now, I’m not a huge Twinkies fan, excepting for a momentary lapse of reason several years back when Hostess pulled them from the shelves and I found myself wanting back into a relationship I never was totally committed to in the first place.

When Twinkies came back less than a year later, I was in love. For about thirty seven seconds- which is the average amount of time it takes to eat one of these spongy snack treats. I dropped them for good after that, but every now and again . . I get the craving.

We transformed a handful of the creamy yellow drumsticks into a comedic fusion of sweet entanglements. Good thing for us that pimping Twinkies happens to be a legal enterprise in all fifty states (It’s actually mandatory in Oregon and Colorado . . for some . . reason).

Completely Different

We re-purposed three Twinkies, and the results? Not horrible.

Peanut Butter and Jelly: Admittedly, not the most inspired of choices. But here’s the thing, PB&J in a sponge cake sounds pretty good. And it was tasty . . enough. But it did fall short of my expectations, which were much too lofty to begin with. I mean . . it’s a fucking Twinkie!

Peanut Butter with Honey Drizzle: The peanut butter was just, good. The honey drizzle was tasty because honey drizzled on just about anything is gonna be tasty. It was another okay combination.

Dark Chocolate: We stuffed Twinkies with some dark chocolate we purchased at a local candy maker. This was the tastiest of the cake test dummies. The dark chocolate really made the sponge cake worth it; sort of the way Cher once made Sonny look halfway cool back in the day.

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So of the three transformations, the dark chocolate stuffed Twinkies won the night. If this would have been an Olympic sport, the American judge would’ve given the dark chocolate Twinkies a 9, the Swedish judge a 7.5 and the Russian judge would’ve withheld his vote until we paid him.

But Wait, There's More!

Wait . . you thought I was gonna leave you with that? Nah. There’s no way I was putting “The Twinkies Post” in lights unless I had a closing shot that proved worthy. Because I never would have been able to forgive myself; not as a second rate baker and most certainly not as a proud ‘Murican.

For our last entry, we went and did it. We deep fried a couple of these fuckers and that’s when things went Amadeus. Because a deep fried Twinkie is not a Twinkie . . whatsoever. Something magical happens when the hot oil bathes these battered beauties and changes the molecular structure. It’s a funky baptismal effect that transforms the snack cake from a just okay midnight snack to five star cuisine. And maybe I’m adding a couple tablespoons of hyperbole here, but I ain’t lying either.

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So dark chocolate Twinkies won the battle of the alternate fillings while the deep fried won Best in Show. And I didn’t wake up on Monday morning feeling like an anchor nestled at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Which is called a win in my book. I buried the rest of the Twinkies in the backyard and I made the kids swear an oath that if they felt the craving for deep fried Twinkies again anytime soon, that they would consider drugs instead.

Of course . . this doesn’t mean there won’t be a Twinkies sequel at some future point in time. Because I’m thinking about marrying a few of my favorite candy bars to the spongy cream filled snacks and seeing how that works out.

I like to think Tallahassee would have been proud of us for exercising our God given right to shameless indulgences. Because why wait for the end of the world to partake when Urgent Care is available at three in the morning?

Enjoy the little things . . .

 

 

Bending the rules in our search for the perfect Cuban sandwich

Yorgos Cuban SammyMe and Linds B took our traveling show downtown last week, paying a visit to a local landmark. Yorgos has been rocking the corner restaurant thing in the smack dab middle of Lancaster city since 1989.

In spite of this staple status, I had never stepped foot in the doors until now. And it probably wasn’t gonna happen if I hadn’t googled up a last minute change of plans.

Quick shout out to the National Champion Villanova Wildcats! They made it look easy against a couple of basketball powerhouses in Kansas and Michigan, and in so doing made some history. The win makes the City of Brotherly Love a sporting hot spot, with the Eagles and ‘Cats representing. Imma root for the Sixers to keep this streak going because it’s nice to see a hard luck sports town become the place to be.

Yorgos is a Mediterranean eatery dressed in a pub; and it’s small enough that Clark Kent would probably dash inside for a quick wardrobe change. I was instantly in like with the place as a result, because it was giving me a chill Martini bar vibe. My preferred dining experience requires ambient lighting, leather cushioned booths that pinch the walls, a lively bar crowd, music spilling out in symmetrical accompaniment with restaurant chatter and of course . . good eats. Home? Meet run.

So we dug into this buzz whilst ordering up a first round of friendly beverages- Linds going with a mixed rum drink while I cozied up to a frosty Sam Adams Lager. We talked up mental health, food, tats and the peeps we know and love and even the ones we’re not so crazy about.

Our entry level choice was tacos since the lovely waitress let us know it was dollar taco night . . and she got no further than that before we’d placed an order for a half dozen of the little buggers in a soft taco formation. They were delectably tasty company, and they were not lonely for very long before the main event hit the table.

Vera Farmiga The Departed
The Cuban traditional they serve up at Yorgos is sexy. Like . . if this thing was a person, it would be Vera Farmiga in The Departed, seeing as how I consider it her tastiest performance. And the hell with the Academy for not having a Tastiest Actress category!

The blueprint is true to the original- pork, ham, Swiss-cheese, pickles and mustard. The bread is where they went all curve ball on us. It wasn’t pressed. And as per our rule book, any Cubano which is not pressed to specs will not be considered for Best of Show. We aren’t much for the rules, excepting for this one. Because really . . it’s all about priorities.

Before I throw it back to the judges, I wanted to let you know The Twinkies Post is coming up this week. It will feature the Easter night dessert treats that me and my daughter cooked up. And umm . . . if you’re into heart healthy foods, the Twinkies post ain’t gonna appeal . . so just scroll down till you get to the music video.

The Verdict

Here then, is the Linds B recap as per her Facebook post . . .

Hittin’ y’all with that fresh Cuban post, because Marc and I are doing the Lord’s work here. Once again, completely unexpected and fresh from the sweet, sweet pits of Google; we’ve come across the current leader across the board with a hearty 9/10! To our complete surprise, Yorgos hit us with their Cuban panini and damn were we blown away! With every flavor present in every single bite! Why not 10/10 you ask? Well, as we’ve covered in the past, we’re hard graders! In spite of the bread being an absolutely delicious addition, it wasn’t the pressed bread that brings that 100% accuracy! However, amazingly delicious! Definitely go and give it a taste! 

This is how irony meets destiny, because this leader in the clubhouse might never have gained such an edge if they had played by the Cuban Sandwich Rules and pressed this puppy. The bread was that good, and like Linds B put it . . everything else about the sammy was winning. Big.
Kids, let this be a lesson to you that coloring outside the lines has its advantages. Just remember to bring the passion, the flavor and most importantly, the soul. And the right amount of mustard wouldn’t hurt.
 

 

Pulling a fast one in our search for the perfect Cuban sammy

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Bobby Flay ain’t gonna be down with this latest episode of our search for the quintessential Cubano. Neither is Rick Bayless, Giada, Cat, Guy, Rachael, Rocco or Jamie. And most certainly not Dead Fidel, who haunts my crib every time I bastardize a mojito by switching out rum with bourbon. Soooo, it’s a good thing none of these peeps read the blog.

Linds B likes to think we’re doing “the Lord’s work,” in our sublime and tasty search for the definitive Cuban sammy . . . and who am I to argue with such a devout perspective as this? So with that being said, we ventured into the desperate places for this expedition, as the erstwhile apostles that we are. No hipster cafes or grunge bars, no five star grilles or ethnic landmarks . . . not this go round. Nah, we decided to go all CliffsNotes, by doubling down on the dubious enterprise of a fast food version of a sacred standard. We chose the Cowboy hat . . the House of Meats . . the big A . . yeah, that place. Arby’s.

Now, before you summon your best Tony Montana four lettered variations and shake your head in disgust, lemme ‘splain.

Arbys

Sure, a ton of fast food establishments have run out their takes to the Cuban sandwich, and yes . . most everyone of them has failed horribly. But Arby’s is a favorite place, even if we don’t frequent it out of respect to our major arteries. Arby’s has all the requisites to which we look for in our search: Flavor, meats and curly fries. Hey, we don’t ask for much, but when we do . . it best include curly fries.

McDonald’s came up with its own version, which along with McSpaghetti, McLobster,  McVegan and McDLT rates as the worst idea since Liza Minelli married that Liberace groupie. Hooters introduced a Cuban sandwich, and the only reason it took so long for the patrons to figure out it wasn’t very good is because, well . . it’s Hooters. And let’s not forget Subway, who rolled out a Cuban sandwich for a limited time that wasn’t nearly limited enough.

Fast Food For Thought Intermezzo: 

Linds B introduced me to a fast food hack that changes everything. For fifty one years of my life, I’ve been using those paper condiment cups wrong! Mind . . . officially blown. But don’t take my word for it, check out the new way of doing business on a wholesale level. The truth IS out there . . .

So the list of fast food fiascos- as per the Cuban sammy- is extensive. But it wasn’t about to deter me and Linds B, so when a mutual friend let us know about the Arby’s offering, we replied in unison “On it!”. After which we did our best Ricky Ricardo and got to stepping.

The blueprint for the Arbys Cubano follows the standard application to a tee. Pork, ham, swiss, pickles and mustard. And lemme just say, ample amounts of pork and ham. I mean . . did you get a load of that pic? It looks like a ham jail break, which is never a bad thing.

The Verdict

We didn’t carry great expectations into this particular expedition. We just wanted a meat stuffed vessel that was going to immobilize us, after which we could chase regret and anguish with curly fries and fountain drinks. Thank you Arby’s because you came through! As for a report card? The pork and ham were tasty, the Swiss was just kinda hanging out (no melt to it), and the pickles were in the witness protection program on most bites. The mustard, or whatever in the hell it really was, worked well to bring the whole thing together. The bread wasn’t pressed, because it’s Arby’s.

We scored it a 4.75 out of 10, with a curve of one point added for being the one fast food version that didn’t completely bastardize the iconic sandwich. Plus, the curly fries . . those buggers always merit good food faith.

All things considered, we enjoyed the experience. This break from tradition has only served to strengthen our appreciation for the real thing. It was the culinary equivalent of having an affair, after which you confess everything and vow to make things better than ever with your significant other. And we vow to never let our roving eyes tempt us into a fast food Cubanito fling again.

Unless Jimmy Johns comes calling . . .

 

 

 

 

Our search for the Perfect Cuban Sandwich takes the long way home

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Persistence is the antidote to mortality.

I realize that’s a fairly dubious way to begin a food post, but hear me out por favor. Because me and Linds B learned the importance of persistence this week whilst firing up the Cuban Sammy search once again after a brief winter hiatus. We made way for the land of milk and cocoa- Hershey, Pennsylvania- to check out Philip Arthur’s. The quaint little cafe is a short stroll from Hershey Park, and it offers up a Cuban panini we decided to take for a ride.

We grabbed the lowdown on this rendition from the website and despite the fact they make their version on panini bread, we gave it our seal of approval. Flexibility has been the name of our game from the get, because playing by the rules is all well and good but tasty is always better.

The problem with this particular sandwich was simple. We never got to partake since Phillip Arthur’s was closed for renovations and Google didn’t happen to mention that little detail. So there we were, freezing our asses off as we trudged back to my car and deliberated our next move. All hope seemed lost . . .

Hey kids, here’s the dope about that hiatus I spoke of earlier: Unlike 1600 Pennsylvania, we want to be totally transparent as per all house business. These posts documenting our search for the Holy Grill of sacred tasty have not been brought to you in “real time”. Not exactly. There was some lag time, seeing as how we began posting our Cuban sammy adventures last fall on Facebook, and it was so much fun that we decided to make it a regular segment here at Sorryless. I’m happy to report that we are all caught up, and readying ourselves for the stretch run in our search. I realize this revelation is not scandalous or controversial, and for that we offer our sincere apologies.

With Phillip Arthur’s having harshed our mellow sufficiently, we made haste for an alternate locale where we could redirect our Cuban sammy adventures. Problem was, we didn’t have a backup plan so Linds took to Googling area joints in the hopes we could pin something down. We drove through Hershey and into Elizabethtown with no luck. Same thing with Mt Joy and Landisville. Nada Colada.

I hit the highway as we tossed around options and just when I was about to wave the white flag in surrender (Yep, TGI Fridays), Linds saved the day.

“I think I have something . . .” She said hopefully.

“Hit me with it,” I replied.

“Oh my fucking God, you’re not going to believe this!” She laughed. “There’s a place and it’s three minutes from my house . . .”

As expeditions go, I’m no Christopher Columbus. But hey, Christopher Columbus wasn’t really Christopher Columbus so there’s that.

I put together a Cuban recently when my pal invited me over so I could rescue a pork loin from the frozen tundra of his freezer and make something of it. As you can see, I went crazy with the pork- I reckon I put a pound and a half of pork in each sammy. But that’s only because I don’t believe in wasting food and it just killed me to think that he was probably going to make hash with the rest of it.

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Mad Chef Craft Brewing may be the new kid in town, but it’s catching up right quick. As per yours truly, it had two things working against it. For one, it’s one of those seat yourself joints where you place your order at the counter and then await your grub. I can never get comfortable in this kind of place. For another thing, it’s a craft brewery and I’m not the biggest fan of the Baskin Robbins Effect that has permeated the adult beverage scene.

But . . . beggars ain’t much for choosing, and besides, this place had a hum to it. We hit the counter and I asked the lovely young lady for two of her finest Cuban selections plus a recommendation from the beverage chalkboard. I ended up going with the Porter Rico- a brown beer with smooth tones and silky depth. I was digging the caramel swirls and chocolate dip of this malted roast . . so maybe there’s hope for me yet as far as this whole craft beer thing goes.

The plan was to partake of the sammys and then move elsewhere for a couple rounds of friendlies. Mad Chef was all about business, and man! Do they know their business when it comes to flavor. Less than ten minutes after placing our sandwich orders, our sammys were sitting on the table in a most delectable come hither pose. The blueprint was traditional goodness: slow roasted pork loin, ham, Swiss, pickles and mustard. The precious cargo was pressed to perfection on panini bread. How these mad scientists were able to construct this beautiful beast in such short order and make us feel like we were kicking back on South Beach with the real deal? Cosmically brilliant is what it was.

The Verdict

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Needless to say we were exhausted after our long way home trek to the latest sandwich grab, so we moved our business over to J.B. Dawson’s for a couple adult beverages. We had to map out our plans for the next adventure, whilst making certain we didn’t become overly reliant on Google for the win. So I went with the Cereal Killer- a White Russian topped with Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I’m never going back to whole milk for this favorite cereal of mine, which means that my mornings just got a whole lot more interesting.

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Linds went with a grownup drink called “You’re My Boy Blue”-  an electric lemonade rave party with vodka and curacao. Every sip is a spring time preview, every warm rush a summer’s dream. It’s how you go when you want to chase the blustery reign of winter into its corner for a time.

So that’s a take on our imperfect search for the Perfect Cuban sandwich. We hope you enjoyed it and that your food is tasty and your company sublime. And when the road starts feeling too long, just keep your eyes on the prize and be sure to verify your Google search.

Just saying.

 

 

The Day I ‘Chickened Out’, and why I’m proud of it

Chick fil A

I’m not much for extreme stances, seeing as how it’s difficult to abide by such things with any degree of magnanimity. Taking a stand on something is easy, following through is the sticky part of the label. But there are some things to which I am unwavering, mostly.

Take for instance the fact I haven’t stepped foot inside of a Chick-fil-A in years. As it turns out, almost six years. I googled CEO Dan Cathy because I couldn’t remember when he made his gay marriage comments and it turns out that all happened back in June of 2012. ‘Chicken-Gate’ doesn’t feel that long ago. That’s my affectionate term for Cathy’s piety party as it relates to same sex marriages.

If you forget what Cathy said way back then, here’s an excerpt.

I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, “We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage”. I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

Listen, I do not give a great good fuck what Cathy thinks of gay people, gay marriage, rainbows or the show Will and Grace. I just don’t think it’s cool that Cathy, who presides over the most successful fast food operation in the country- a business whose annual revenue exceeded 8 billion dollars in 2016- needs to be playing come hither with all the holier than thou Huckabees out there who wear their beliefs on their lapels.

Biggoty

Here’s the thing. Cathy’s business is getting ‘ching from plenty of gay people. He made it a point to damn their way of living and loving but he’ll gratefully accept their moola. Then his company takes that gay people money and donates a portion of it to organizations who basically see homosexuality as a sickness- like cancer- which needs to be eradicated in the name of God.

Add to this the fact that Cathy’s same sex marriage statements happened inside a national election year, and you’re left wondering what he stood to gain from such a pious stance. Were his statements genuine or manipulative? Either way, it was wrong of him to make his personal feelings public, thereby alienating a segment of consumers who really dig his product.

So I stopped going. Just like that. Six years later I do not regret my decision one bit(e).

If you were waiting for my but . . . here it is. I have partaken of the stuff on two occasions since my decision not to step foot in their doors. Call me a hypocrite if you like, and maybe I am. I like to think that if I lawyer up my laymen, I can ‘splain how my brief and limited interaction with the chicken king did not affect my boycott. A top five? I’ll try.

5- I didn’t step foot in the doors- Interaction with a retail establishment often results in impetuous behavior. Like when you go into Target for deodorant and you end up buying Doritos, frozen pizza, pajamas, the movie Pitch Perfect and a 55 inch ultra- high def TV whilst forgetting the deodorant. By not stepping foot inside a Chick-fil-A, I was practicing temperance.

4- I didn’t actually ‘buy’ the stuff- I realize possession is nine tenths of the law, but unlike weed, if a cop finds a a chicken sammy in my glove box, he’s just gonna be like “You’re not gonna eat that? What’s wrong with you?”

3- It was “Free”- To borrow from Dan Cathy, it is our God given right to accept free food.

2- I asked myself, What Would Jesus Do?- And I came to the conclusion he would be like “Dude, I went through a shit ton of misery so you could sin,”

1- A fried Chick-fil-A sammy is really fucking tasty- Hey, my boycott is painful! I have sacrificed so much over the last almost six years.

What is a boycott all about anyways? Among the multitude of boycotts in recent memory, we have NFL football, Coca Cola, BP, Target, Nestle and Nike, Staples and Starbucks and hell . . some people even boycotted Amazon! Yeah . . and those people are called Amish.

So is my boycott full of shit? Let’s review . . .

While I have broken the boycott commandment which stipulates that one must not handle said product, I have not had any social interaction with the company. As far as I’m concerned, those are offsetting penalties. My commercial involvement with Chick-fil-A was one of third party privilege and no currency was transacted by yours truly. If anything, it could be argued that my dispassionate involvement was akin to a quality control expert.

As far as I’m concerned, my boycott is intact. I do not plan on darkening the doors of a Chick-fil-A, unless I were to become afflicted with a deliciously uncommon medical condition in which my doctor suggests that I incorporate more fried foods into my diet. My own personal little boycott isn’t going to affect the chicken king in the least, I realize this. But for me, it still means something.

It should.

 

Our Search for the Perfect Cuban Sandwich gets political . . .ish

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In the latest chapter of our search for the perfect Cuban sandwich, me and Linds decided to put former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill’s contention that all politics is local to the test. So for those of you who don’t have the stomach for political discussions, by all means keep reading. Because our politics is tasty and we don’t shut down when chowing down is so much more constructive.

Lancaster, Pa has some seriously good eats. But don’t take my word for it, ask Alton Brown. The Food Network host who has an honorary doctorate in the field of tasty science is a frequent visitor to our town’s dining establishments because he knows a good thing when he tastes it. His scientific filibusters inspired us to stay local for this entry.

The town- dubbed Lancashire whilst under English rule- is a cobblestoned walk through our nation’s history. Notable residents include President James Buchanan, inventor Robert Fulton and abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens. The Continental Congress set up shop in Lancaster after the British invaded Philadelphia, and the town actually served as the nation’s capitol for a single day. George Washington slept here, Ben Franklin drank here, Thomas Paine wrote here and John Adams formulated his vision of America’s future while doing all of the above.

Lancaster Central Market

Lancaster is home to Lancaster Central Market– established in 1730, it is the oldest farmers market in the United States. I’ve caught revolutionary fever a time or two on Market mornings, after which I load up on supplies for my Cubano and get to stepping on the home made remedy. It’s the only time Fidel Castro can be mentioned in democratic company.

551 West is the kind of place that makes Tuesday nights feel like prime real estate. You walk in the door to a chatty buzz, moody lighting and a wraparound bar that drinks you in before you can return the favor. There’s a sublime resonance to joints such as this one, where you can learn a neighborhood inside a single visit.

We behaved very much like politicians negotiating back room deals with porcine intentions- a rolling boil of loud, obnoxious swear words whose profits increased with each new round of friendly beverages. In order to circumvent the acid bath of our adult beverages, we started off the festivities with some artichoke and spinach dip, because we are professionals at this sort of thing. The tortilla chips were warm and crunchy and the dip was creamy goodness with a savory finish. As far as first amendments go, you can’t do much better than friendly drinks and tasty bites.

Ben Franklin Quote

Ordering became a subject of some debate. I suggested that perhaps we should order different plates and then halve things, in the event this Cubano didn’t rock our casbah. But Linds was having none of it.

“Uh, we’re all in on this . . . we’re committed!” Linds proclaimed.

Far be it from me to disagree with such fine logic as this, especially after a few laps with Guinness. I’m pretty sure if Ben Franklin were still around, he would have done his best electric side in the affirmative.

The main event always feels like Christmas morning as we anticipate the unwrapping of our presents. Even though we know what we’re getting in theory, the practice to this particular sandwich’s construction can be quite unpredictable. And so it went with the 551’s version of the classic.

The blueprint went like this: Capicola, salami, pork and Swiss. The come together ingredients consisted of lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mayo and mustard. It was served up on a well pressed hoagie with a side of french fries.

Now, the salami I get. It jibes with the history of the Cuban sammy, where salami was an erstwhile part of the creation until it moved state side. The capicola was another story. Pronounced gabagool by those of us who grew up in an Italian neighborhood, it is arguably the most sumptuous pork creation. Thing is, it doesn’t belong in a Cuban sandwich because really, you can’t have two kings in this court. I didn’t frown on the lettuce and tomato since I dig the color and crunch it lends. And the mustard/mayo blend was plenty fine. The hoagie was reminiscent of Philadelphia’s own (even though it wasn’t), and it was pressed. I am the biggest stickler when it comes to the pressing business of a Cuban sammy.

The Verdict

Linds and me were able to forge a consensus on the sammy vote without the need for a shut down, because unlike politics we ain’t got time for such nonsense. Not when the drinks are friendly and the company is hilarious. Our vote was unanimous . . . a 5.5 out of 10, The reason? We couldn’t figure out where the pork got to, which sounds pretty dang political, I admit.

I’d like to think our founding fathers would have been proud of our patriotic prowess. After all, they were all about life, liberty and the pursuit of frosty drinks. I mean . . happiness.

Same difference.