Sunday, February 6, 2011

Steeltown Sandwiching

My a product of the post-graduate school selection process, I am a Steelers fan. My parents got married and then tried to get accepted at the same places for grad school. My parents elected for UPitt over Berkley, giving me the name Jesse instead of Moon Apple and making me a 2nd generation Steelers Fan.

As such, Rubin and I took a little Football Aliyah, to Heinz field for a Steelers vs. Jets game in Week 16. What better time to write about it, the day that the Steelers take on the Packers in the Superbowl!

Stop # 1: Steel City Sandwiches
We stopped midway to Pittsburgh and a Steelers themed joint called Steel City Sandwiches in Erie, Pennsylvania deep inside Browns territory.

The place is famous for having Primanti Bros style Sandwiches (more on that below).

With my Williamsport Cheesesteak fresh in my mind, I ordered another.

The Bun was very good. Nice and squishy. Unfortunately the meat felt more like steakums then diced ribeye. Decent provolone, but nothing to write home about.

Rubin ordered a mixed Hoagie that looked a lot better.

Overall Judgement:
6.75/10 Opas

(but extra points for all the Steelers tchotchkes' )

Stop #2 (Essie's) The Original Hot Dog Shop

While falling clearly into the Quasi-Sandwich category, this was way to good not to write about.

The Hot Dog Shop is a neighbourhood stable that dated back to my Dad's years in Pittsburgh. Located in the heart of the neighbourhood of Oakland, this place has been a pillar of the community.

With amazing hot dogs like these its no surprise how they could become such a permanent fixture. You get your choice of an Original (Pork and Beef mix) or Kosher Style Pure Beef. Ever the indulgent treyfe Jew, I opted for the Original, with Chili and Onions:

The Dog itself is fantastic with a great 'snap' from its natural casing, and great taste of meat throughout. The chili was a nice, almost Cincinnati style Chili with some smokiness and a bit of bite to it.  Could have used a better quality bun though.

The dogs are griddled until they get delicious grill marks as seen here:

They are also known for their Mountains of fries. This is a small: (it goes up to XL which looks like a Pattater-horn)

Overall Judgment: One of  THE best Hot Dog I have ever eaten.
9/10 Quasi-Sandwich Opas

Stop #3: Primanti Bros

I have aspired to eat at this place, since my 2nd entry in this blog.

Primanti Brothers is a local legend for their Sandwiches. As the Sign notes:

No matter the Sandwich, it comes stuffed with freshly-made French Fries, a heap of coleslaw and think tomatoes, served on their fresh Italian Bread.

I opted for the Pastrami, instead of their famous "2nd best seller Pitts-burger Cheesesteak".

When doing my pre-trip Sandwich research, I worried that it would be too bread-y. It seemed just to thick for proper balance. Luckily the French bread was nice and squishy, allowing you to choke up on your mega-Sandwich

The fries added a nice salty crispness. The coleslaw was nice an vinegary-y and the tomato was particularly fraiche.

My only major 'beef' with the Sandwich was that the Pastrami did not seem properly proportioned with the rest of the Sandwich.

I wanted at least a 40:60 type ration and got more like 25:75.

That being said, the Fries and Slaw added a great element to an otherwise excellent Sandwich.

Overall Judgement: 8.25/10 Opas.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Just Sandwich Reviews - straight, no chaser

Entry #1 - Pancer's 

The Pancer family recently sold the their eponymous shop after more than 53 years in the deli game.

Although I've already blogged about it, out of respect, I thought I'd lead this entry off with two classic Sandwiches I had at my most recent visit.

Combo 1: Corned Beef & Tongue!

Combo #2 -The Triple Decker - Chopped Liver, Onion, Coleslaw and Pastrami on Challah bread. 

Comments: After being a loyal patron for 15 + years I can't believe I never tried either of these before. 

The tongue + corned beef combo was awesome,  but I was truly blown away by the triple decker. It's like the long lost Jewish club Sandwich of my dreams. 

Chopped Liver and Challah work perfectly together (see: most of Friday night dinners with my parents). The Onion added a nice crunch and the sour tang of the coleslaw played well against the dense salty perfection of Pancer's Pastrami. 

Attention new owners: Keep this Sandwich on the Menu or be prepared to face the wrath of one angry Sandwich blogger. 

Entry #2: Schnitzel Queen

I've heartily supported Schnitzel since my parents used to take me to a long-deceased Hungarian joint at Bathurst and Bloor. 

Schnitzel Queen is a Schnitzel only cafe operated by two loving Germans  Theresa and Bernard (yes I put those two words next to each other INTENTIONALLY).  


They offer many variations on the same theme - BAVARIAN STYLE SCHNITZEL.  Arguably my favourite of the pounded-meats, they offer up one hell of a product, in one helluva sketchy neighborhood (Moss Park)

I ordered mine with Cheese, Mayo and Carmelized options.  A popular variation of this is the Cordon Bleu which adds sliced Ham into the mix. 

The Schnitzel itself is excellent. Good crispness with an earthy pork essence to it. The batter is thin and not too oily. Bernard is constantly frying up fresh schnitzels, while Theresa entertains the customers with her banter. The last time I was there we discussed the 2012 phenomenon, the reversing of the Earth's polarity and why my friend Brian sucks for being 30 minutes late. 

This is one of the cases where a low-brow ingredient won the day. They only use processed cheese and I think it works great! It adds a kind of familiar, grilled cheesiness to it that pairs well with the fried Schnitzel and the gobs of Mayo. 

Overall Judgment: 8.5/10 Opas 

I'm rooting for these guys and their fantastic product, so do yourself a favour and brave the sketchiness to sample one helluva Schnitzel!

Next up, a very special Canwiches Superbowl Special Edition!! 

Keep it mayo'd