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

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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.

 

 

 

 

A Cuban gets wrapped in Folklore

Folklore Cuban

In our search for the perfect Cuban sandwich, me and Linds visited the quaint college hamlet of Elizabethtown recently to throw down on a Frankenstein interpretation of the gold standard. If the town sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking of the 2005 movie of the same name, starring the ageless Susan Sarandon. Welp, this is a different town. Hollie Baylor doesn’t live here. So it’s a good thing the food along the main drag has plenty of ‘mo.

Folklore Coffee & Co has a whole lot of that ‘mo I’m speaking of. These kids specialize in deliciously funky creations. This wasn’t my first visit to the place, so I have decided to gift you with a top five list of my favorite Folklore sandwiches. Their Cuban sammy isn’t on the list because, well . . . that would be anticlimactic now, wouldn’t it?

5- Bagel Sandwich with Lox, Onions and Capers– Breakfast rule number one for me? If lox is on the menu, it’s gonna be in ‘me belly soon after. And if you’re asking whether a kitschy little cafe in E-Town, Pennsylvania can deliver on the lox and bagels front? Nailed IT!!

4- Davey Crockett- I would have been perfectly content with turkey, bacon and cheddar with lettuce and tomatoes on wheat. But nooooo . . . they had to go adding some avocado and pepper mayo. And I had to force myself to take human bites.

3- Miss Annie Oakley- I dig cream cheese on my egg sammy, lots. Throw in some bacon and slap that puppy on a cinnamon raisin bagel, and I’m more in love than Dorothy Boyd in that hello scene from Jerry McGuire. 

2- Finn McCool- Roast beef married red onion while having a side thing with roasted red peppers. The feta cheese and dijon intervened and pumpernickel made sure they stayed together forever. Yes, there’s a lot of sexual innuendo in that review. They don’t call it food porn for nothing.

1- Isaac Newton- If not for gravity, this sandwich wouldn’t exist. That is some scary shit to ponder. Folklore was somehow able to make bologna cool again . . for the first time. The sammy consists of bologna, cream cheese, fig jam, roasted red peppers and spinach on a ciabatta roll. They made this fifty one year old chap look behave like this . . .

As for the Cuban sammy that Folklore deals up, let’s just say it doesn’t resemble the original. At all. For one thing, they forego the water bread in favor of a wheat wrap. And they add roast beef to the tilt. I’m guessing they were out of peanut butter and jelly when they were cooking this idea up in the lab. I kid because I am a traditionalist when it comes to the standard, and as such, I am envious of those food visionaries who would think to deconstruct and reconstruct this way, while brick-housing the flavah punch. 

We celebrate food because it possesses the ability to make us feel like little kids, where all the world is a science experiment and anything is possible. Folklore knows its science well, doling up crazy, tasty lessons that leave you feeling nourished in every single good way.

Musical Interlude:

While writing this post, I’m getting down to some Celia Cruz. I read somewhere that CC was the Hispanic Shakespeare, and I love that comparison very much indeed. Because with all this talk of science and flavah, here was a woman who merged the two with an improvisational rhythm all her own.

 

The Verdict

Okay, Imma cut to the quick here. The Folklore ain’t winning best Cuban sammy because they forego water bread in favor of a wheat wrap…and they add roast beef to the tilt. It’s sacrilege, but we ain’t gonna be the Pope about it. We simply decided that we were gonna have to deduct a few points . . as we scarfed it down. We took 2.5 points off the score . . . yup, because of the bread. Still, this was a very pleasant surprise. And so what if Fidel would thumb his nose at this? He’s dead. 

But Wait Theres More

I loves me some bonus round when it comes to my food, and you can thank Linds B for this one. She just got back from visiting Big Sister Jae© in Portland, Oregon. Before venturing off to the great northwest, she was given an assignment: Find a Cuban sammy in Portlandia and give us a review. Well, she hit a home run . . as per usual.

West coast Cubans, ya’ll! Stopped at a lovely little food stand called Que Bolá. The bread was pressed and absolutely delicious! Once again coming across the not-so-tragic issue of pork that was too tasty. Down side of this beauty; severe lack of pickles and mustard. I only came to realize that both ingredients were in fact there when taking my last few bites. As delicious as the sandwich was, I’m scoring this one with a 5 1/2 out of 10. 👍

Linds Cuban Sammy

Linds B is one tough grader. Which is why she loves playing bad cop to my good cop, even though I’m really the bad cop. Anyways, that’s a wrap on our Cuban sammy adventures for this time. Of course the pun was intended.

Peace, love and Cuban sammys . . .

 

The fallacy of diets, executive memberships and new years resolutions

Now that the holidays are over, save for New Years Day (which is really more of a national holiday for calendar makers anyways), I figured it was time to start planning my “New Me” diet for 2018.

Okay, I’m just kidding. I would never subject myself to something called the “New Me” diet. It sounds like something Rachel Ray would trademark and Oprah would approve. I can see Kelly Ripa hiring a team of personal trainers, dietitians and psychiatrists in order to achieve her “New Me” bod. I just ain’t down with that kind of voodoo . . . sorry.

Nah, the only “new” that I plan on introducing into my diet is borne of common sense and moderation. And if that fails, there’s always bourbon. I do plan on having certain rules that must be followed- mostly. Like, I will continue to partake of my toxic trilogy of Starbucks, chips and candy.  I simply won’t be as efficient as per my intake, because I’ll only allow myself one sin per day (televangelist speak).

I do plan on eating better, same as every year. This plan always works . . . for a couple weeks. And then it occurs to me that everybody else is having fun but me and I go off the rails. It usually ends with me sobbing to myself in the parking lot of a donut shop at 1 o’clock in the morning. It sounds sad, but I actually love that part.

From there I settle into my business as usual. I try to eat better, like . . every day in fact, but the real world keeps getting in the way. If the real world came out with a menu, its Special of the Day would be “Regret”, and man . . it would be tasty!

2018 will be different in at least one way. My son will be flying the coop at some point next summer after he graduates from his Masters program at Penn (shameless proud papa shout out). He’s engaged, and it’s going to be all about new beginnings for the kid. For his father? Well, I have to keep to my sin a day. And I’ll still have my daughter for support; which is a good thing since Benny Hinn ain’t returning my phone calls.

I plan on keeping to my running/exercise regimen through the winter since I don’t feel like losing my girlish figure. Eating healthy (err) might help to fill the void of all that junk food I’ll be missing out on. I realize it’s a piss poor stand in for the good stuff, but maybe . . just maybe, if I eat more fruits and veggies every day, I won’t miss the crap I ain’t eating! It’s the biggest maybe since the 2000 Presidential election went into triple overtime, but a boy can dream.

The dream actually has a starting point for me, and it came when my son got me a Costco gift card so’s I could sign up. It’s been years since I was a member- eight years in fact. It’s no coincidence that my Costco membership ran out after I sold my house. Downsizing meant never having to buy a twenty five pound jar of beef jerky again, even if it could have doubled as a night table.

The signup process at Costco is a lesson in retail lingo. A dude named Anthony ran through the basic Costco card benefits before revving the engine and taking me into the passing lane. He told me about the Executive Member card and how it would change my life forever, and then he doubled down by trying to sell me on a Costco Visa card where I basically would be shoplifting every time I visited. In retail, every dollar you spend is always three dollars saved. Until the bill comes due, after which you owe five dollars on the three dollars you saved and then you have to sign up for another credit card so’s you can save much and owe even more.

I let Anthony know that I wasn’t interested in saving money- which is layman’s terms for spending more than I need to. I got my Costco snapshot- a stamp sized mugshot- affixed to my new card seconds after posing in front of a blue screen. Hey, wouldn’t it be great if Costco bought the DMV?

Me and the kids entered the store from the service desk area instead of going back out to grab a cart. We walked exactly three feet before people started looking at us funny for . . yanno, not having a shopping cart. I went back outside to grab a cart for fear we would be burned at the stake when we got to the deli area by the tribal leaders (Executive card members).

In retail, the worst time to go shopping is when you don’t need anything. That’s when you buy the stupidest shit, every time. Which is why retail, unlike disco, will never die. I found myself pondering whether or not we needed an extra sofa (only $800 for a sectional!). I priced a package of tube socks that weighed as much as a middle school kid (only $15!). I even contemplated Grisham’s newest novel, The Rooster Bar (only $16!) before I remembered I don’t read Grisham novels, even at wholesale prices.

My son went off to bastardize the term “food samples”  while my daughter hit up the produce aisle for some holiday party items she needed for work. In the interim, I bought a box of Chex cereal that weighed as much as a carburetor, a bag of Skinny Pop that could (will) double for a pillow and enough Madras Lentils to open an Indian restaurant. My daughter contributed a banana tree (no shit, they sell the entire fucking tree at Costco!), and enough clementines, blueberries and strawberries for her holiday party and every other holiday party in a five mile radius. In summary, my shopping cart made more sense than it has in . .oh, about a year.

The Costco checkout reminded me of a tractor trailer weigh station, only not nearly as cramped. I paid for my metric ton of goods and started pushing the cart before I realized we had no bags, because bags that hold a metric ton of groceries haven’t been invented yet. That won’t happen until Costco buys NASA, or vice versa. We found a pile of boxes and loaded our stash onto them, and I didn’t even have to get a permit to ride the cart out of the store!

The experience has me thinking that once the fridge is cleared of all the holiday food that is currently taking up residence inside, it will be time for a ‘reset’. That’s when we start buying better . . in bulk. A barrel of yogurt here, a bushel of apples there . . a gross of tomatoes somewhere in between. It’s all I’m gonna need in order to forge the “New Me”, without approval from the Pope (Oprah). Well, that and a minivan that can haul all the crap Imma buy.

I feel healthier already.

 

‘Capitolizing’ on the art of the toast in our search for the Perfect Cuban Sandwich

FB_IMG_1513384567795Our 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.

Best friends

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?

The Verdict

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.

Flan

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.

Food, those little slices of death . . how I love them

According to my SEO coach, I need to tighten up and get hyper-focused as per the shit I write about. I’m supposed to pin down muscular keywords and offer up dynamic content whilst grasping a more intimate knowledge of Google’s ample bosom . I wonder what Poe would say about all this? Would he be down with the data-ism of today’s literary Avant-garde?

I’m just kidding about the SEO coach. I wouldn’t dream of hiring one of those peeps, seeing as how the going rate for their services fluctuates from billable hours to craigslist ads with printable coupons. I mean, who do they think they are? Lawyers?

Besides, we’re pretty content focused here at sorryless. We write about love, food and people . . . mostly. Which is why I referred to our blog as a ‘passion blog’ in one of my earlier posts.

Anyways . . . it’s the holidays and that can only mean one thing. I’m eating like a fucking Viking. Yep, from Thanksgiving Day until December 26th, I get my grub on with reckless abandon. It’s the result of longer work days, diminishing sunshine and that most time honored of dietary pitfalls: Not giving a shit. Okay so maybe I’m exaggerating just a tad. Because the truth is, I kept to my running schedule and my stationary bike and my martial arts exercises. And I even contemplated eating an apple . . until I realized we didn’t have any caramel in the house.

Here then is a quick look at some of my dinner time decisions over the last week. Sans the nutritional values since . . yanno, there weren’t any.

The Fantastic Five of a Gloriously Gluttonous (Almost) Week in Food: 

McDonalds Dinner BoxThe McDonald’s Dinner Box– You know what? Fuck Morgan Spurlock and his pretentiously sophisticated intestinal tract. McDonald’s is like a hooker- as long as you’re willing to pay for the outrageous shit it’s going to do to your body, they ain’t asking questions. I like that. Their latest crime against humanity is a tasty treasure trove of “Fuck yes”. This week, I bought into the package for me and my merry band: Two Big Macs, two cheeseburgers, ten mcnuggets and two medium fries. Heroin never tasted so good!

Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole- After my hot date with the burger whore, I needed me some down home comfort food. And since I only got one lousy serving of green bean casserole on Thanksgiving, I cooked up my own personal sequel. For a dude who flouts convention, this dish can keep me home at night. At least . . for one night.

Sommee Cards

Burger King Double Whopper- If I was going to break my fast food rule- one visit per week, tops- I figured I might as well shop the competition and order up their most destructive delicacy. I added cheese to this hunk of burning love because why the fuck not? And to those of you who have a lactose intolerance, no worries. The gravitational pull of this massive meat-eor will be torching the inner lining of your stomach so effectively that the cheese will feel like alka-seltzer in comparison.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my Peanut Butter Oreos discovery. It took me fifty one years to find them, and only a couple bites to understand. This must be what Ernest Shackleton felt like.

Jimmy Johns Italian Night Club- Stuffing this monster with veggies is akin to gift wrapping a MOAB. It looks pretty but it’s still gonna kill you. I think I make a better Italian sub, but why miss out on the chance to be part of a class action lawsuit when my colon goes missing?

Salad as Pizza

As for tomorrow night? I’ll be digging into a Supreme, delivered from my newest crush- Feliciano’s Pizza. And we’re going to double down with some Fat Tire Ales and a good flick. It will be the perfect bookend to a week of gastrointestinal debauchery.

Am I too old to take up cocaine?

 

 

Our Search for the “Perfect Cuban Sandwich” hits the road . . . sort of

FB_IMG_1511890332427Our search for the “Perfect Cuban Sandwich” is the perfect blog choice.

Blogging allows for us to share our latest adventure with you, the reader. The appeal of a sexy, sultry piece of something good is worth boasting about, for more reasons than the one. As you’ll notice in our Cuban sammy posts, we include the links to the joints we patronize because we want the peeps we dine with to get their propers. The restaurant biz is a shit for proposition- fraught with thankless hours, big overhead and myriad personnel decisions that oftentimes make or break a successful operation. So it only stands to reason that anyone who throws themselves into that kind of fire must really love what they do. And we LOVE that. So that’s what the links are for, It’s our small and earnest way of saying Muchas gracias. 

Not a foodie

Please understand that we are NOT a food blog. We are a passion blog, whose endless pursuit of romance in the simple things will catapult us into the people, places and things of a small world whose boundless mysteries are always going to be worth the journey. And I will never use the term “foodie”, because I believe it undermines the very essence of our love affair with food. It mitigates the religious experience of a righteous bite, it dismisses the longhand description of tasty love, it scraps the synonyms of sate. So nah . . . no “foodie” talk at our place. That is all.

Reading Sign

Reading, Pennsylvania is a town whose face has more miles on it than the Marlboro Man. Born in 1748,- a progeny of the brothers Penn- Reading is the county seat of Berks. Way back in the day, Reading was home to a military base whose location served as a conduit for a chain of forts strategically placed along the Blue Mountain during the French/Indian War. Later, during the Revolutionary War, the town became a military depot that supplied George Washington’s Army with cannons, rifles and ammunition thanks to an iron industry whose production exceeded that of England’s.

Nowadays, the shock and awe comes courtesy of the restaurants that call Reading home. Because this place has some major league food going on. So when me and Linds started talking about localities in the general vicinity, I got to thinking about this town. Sho ’nuff, we hit the jackpot with the Sofrito Gastro Pub– a delightful corner joint with a soulful vibe.

The blueprint for the Sofrito Cuban sandwich rhymes with smoove. The star of the show is the slow roasted pork that melts in your mouth like buttah under the Caribbean sun. You got your ham, which serves as the getaway driver for this big job. Swiss cheese provides the creamy union with pickles serving as the stern yet savory babysitter to this splendidly bad ass cast of characters. The finishing touch? A garlic aoli that breaks all the rules of the traditional in a deliciously rebellious sway that brings this whole dance together. And to the press- that time honored hug that melds all these independent minded flavors into one succulent bite, Sofrito abides.

The Verdict

We scored this sexy sammy a 7.5 out of 10. We’re tough graders, yes, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t fall in deep love with this rendition. It’s just that, we must oblige by the sacrosanct tenets of the traditional Cuban sammy or mi abuelita is gonna start throwing her high heels shoes at me again . . . from the hereafter. She believed in sexy heels, strong drinks and Cuban sandwiches dressed up in the traditional manner.

I ain’t messing with that kind of love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding the power of the press in our search for the Perfect Cuban Sammy

7477_1506724717947The Cuban sandwich is a testament to culinary integration, patience and abiding love. It’s quintessential element is the coalescing of big personality ingredients into one delicious mambo in your mouth.

The exact birth date of the Cuban sandwich is impossible to pin down. Stories date as far back as the mid to late 1800’s, in the cigar factories and sugar mills of Cuba where workers would partake during their breaks. It arrived on our shores during the Cuban revolution. A Cuban population that was able to get out from under Fidel’s ruthless thumb found work in the fields of the Sunshine State and a lunchtime favorite was born.

The original Cuban sammy was made with roasted pork, ham, salami, swiss cheese and pickles on Cuban bread. Upon its arrival in Miami, the salami was removed but the history was just beginning. The present day blueprint calls for pork, ham, swiss and pickles on Cuban bread (think Italian or French bread . . with a Spanish accent).

From there to here, this simple sandwich has undergone more reconstructions than Uma Thurman’s beautiful face. The marielitos who fled Havana in 1980 brought fusion, while America’s sandwich scientists brought sacrilege. The myriad takes on the original have ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime.

A couple months back, me and Linds decided to put together an Adventure Playlist: Pick a food and then search for its best example. We decided to start things off with the Cuban sandwich.

Our search for the “perfect Cuban sandwich” comes with myriad considerations and assorted complications. Namely, we live in fucking Lancaster County, Pennsylvania! That aside, we have been quite successful in our scavenger hunt thus far, uncovering hidden gems with ups, hipster cafes with crazy combinations  and corner bars whose soulful renditions brought us to tears (okay, maybe it was the drinks that did that). They’ve all had one thing in common. They were goooood.

Mi Caldero Restaurante in York, Pennsylvania became our first stop. We came up with this location by conducting a google search as follows . . Places in York, Pa where you’re unlikely to be mugged . . . Thank God for technology, yanno?

One bite told the tale. The pork was succulent . . (that’s a big deal). Unfortunately for this particular sandwich, the pork was too good. It actually stole the show. It was the culinary equivalent of Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises. Delicious and sexy and infinitely better than the rest of an otherwise solid cast. The sandwich paid close attention to detail: Its mustard/mayo’ish creaminess was a yummy salve, the pickles provided punch with every crunch and the ham was buttery and sweet. AND . . it was pressed with the abiding love of a chef who totally gets that the press is the thing. 

On a scale of 1-10, we graded Mi Caldero’s Cuban sandwich a 6. Perhaps we were a bit harsh, but hey, this is important work!

This is the first of a series of posts on the Cuban sandwich. We’ll report from the front lines about once a week until we find our winner. In the interim, if you have a take on the Cuban sandwich that you would like to share with us, please do! You can contact us at sorrylessletters@yahoo.com or you can just leave your recipe in the comment tab. Who knows? We might even try yours out.

Viva the flavah . . .