Saturday, August 29, 2009

Eating through a Bay of Pigs

(Caption - 2009 Re-Re-enactment of the Bay of Pigs invasion) While the title of this blog-entry migh tseem like a cop-out non-obscure historical reference, as I've been known to make on occasion, I ask you faithful denizens of planet Sandwich to bear with me. For you sea (ba dum dum), Cuban-American relations have birthed a great sandwich. As readers by know, sandwiches are oft a microcosm of broader sociological and historical mic circumstances.

The progenitor of the Cubano existed simply as a default sandwich in 19th century Cuba that existed for hundreds of years": Cuba, a land fused with Spanish, Indigenous and African cultural influnce, existed in Colonial times eating a byproduct of colonialism:

"Cubans the ham which was brought by the Spaniards, and the cheese that was also brought by the Spaniards. Also at the time of the discovery, the original inhabitants of Cuba, the Taino/Arakaks, were making cheese. The traditional Cuban sandwich had evolved into the delicacy we know today, however not in Tampa, but to the Cubans in the island who took better than 400 years to make this delicacy perfect and allow all of us to enjoy the fruit of their expertise in sandwich making."

-excerpted from the history of the cuban sandwich

When Cubans started widespread immigration to Tampa in the post Castro days, kitchens catering to Cuban factory workers took a variation of the queso blanco, and added Genoa Ham (likely from the influence of nearby Italian Americans) Pickles (from their Jewish neighbours) and Swiss Cheese (presumably from the seldom-herd of Swiss-Floridian Diaspora).

I had the opportunity to sample a variation of the the Sandwich at the Freshwood Grill in Kensington Market.

Freshwood is small chain, with locations in Roncesvalles, North York and Kensington that has a solid menu of burgers, sandwiches and the like.

The cuban, which is sold 2-4-1 on Tuesdays is served with roast pork, bacon, swiss cheese, pickle on a delicious tortilla and will run you under 10 with sweet potato fries and chipotle mayo.

The flavors of swiss cheese, roast pork and the smokiness of the bacon gave a beautifully layered taste. However this particular pork roast seems to have overcooked aaThe flavors of swiss cheese, roast pork and the smokiness of the bacon gave a beautifully layered taste. However this particular pork roast seems to have overcooked and left an unncessarily gritty aftetaste. The balance was definetly there on this sandwich,

I should also note that I was originally given a steak and cheese wrap by accident, which was delicous if somewhat less conducive to a rich historical narrative.

Final Verdict:

Cubano @ Freshwood

  • Balance
  • perfectly toasted tortilla
  • resisted temptation to become mushy
  • overcooked pork roast
Overall this sandwich gets 7 opas... Largely because I have had it several times and usually performs better than this. Still very much a worthwhile sandwich as is its steak sister.

Monday, August 10, 2009

We are still living or "You better wrap that gavel up b"

So my fellow sandwich-ites, like the Phoenix this blog will rise again, stronger from the ashes of death. Deal with it

This entry's featured sandwich is a wrap from Urbana, a pretty decent coffee shop on 1030 Bay St, across the street from Bistro 990 (insert nauseating TIFF reference because its topical)

Now if this were the Great Canadian Coffee blog (idea anyone) I might well be raving about this place. I love their espresso, the free wi-fi, availiability of power cords (as my laptop's battery life is only slightly longer than a gastrostich's with a debiltating virus) and even their goods are serviceable. Unfortunately that's not my M.O.

Due to work-related concerns, I only had 10 minutes to grab lunch and this was the closest non Pizza option.

Of all the items on the menu, I was most inspired by the Chicken Salad Wrap.

Now, I understand the need to streamline sandwich production as well as any other sandwich supply chain enthusiast, however this CAN be problematic in wrap construction.

It seems that the master assembler of the Urbana wraps (likely an offsite supplier) decided it was crucially important to seperate the ingredients to avoid mushiness:

Now can one guess the problem with this construction? Yes Bite of only carrot, followed by bite of lettuce, followed by chicken salad. Ladies and Gentlemen, I hold that the carrots and lettuce role in said wrap is to provide an essnetial cruchiness to the wrap. An additional two points got lost for a tiny bone in my chicken salad.

By bite number 5 it devolved into just the kind of mushy mess that the Sandwich M.C. (get it wrap/wrapper/rapper ) tried to avoid:

While I still recommend this place for a damn good cup o joe, it is the recipient of the lowest OPA rating yet recorded; a paltry 3 / 10 Opas

  • ummm- NFL Season starts soon... that's a positive.
  • aformentioned spatial problems
  • bone
  • chicken salad itself was under-seasoned.