Just the word "porchetta" sounds delicious, and the unctuous, delectable roast Italian pork tastes as intriguing as its name. Porchetta's, a lunch diner in my hometown in Pensacola, took a bold gamble naming itself for this succulent pork dish, but its sandwiches do porchetta proud.
The piece de resistance is the 8-ounce porchetta sandwich, pictured above, which my dad ordered on our recent visit. It takes pages from po'boys and French dips but shuns any adornments, and in fact, none are necessary because the pork is so flavorful.
The best thing about Porchetta's is that the restaurant puts its star ingredients on any sandwich in need of pork. My stepmom sampled the banh mi, pictured above, dressed with cilantro and the surprising but yummy addition of kimchi. Despite being one of the messiest banh mi I've ever handled, it totally worked.
I couldn't resist the idea of porchetta on a Cuban, and as I suspected, it was a brilliant idea. This traditional Cuban packed a serious punch, despite its unassuming construction. Along with the rest of the menu, this Porchetta's creation makes a strong argument for global sandwich fusion, done entirely without pretension.
I love being a lady who lunches — over sandwiches. On a recent family vacay, me and the girls (plus Jonas) enjoyed a lovely lunch at Arts and Letters Cafe across from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. On the menu: white wine, champy, and museum-worthy sandwiches, which were both beautiful and tasty. The soothing courtyard setting really took it to the next level. Take a tour.
Lately I've been revisiting spots where I once enjoyed a great sandwich and trying a new one. That includes going fishing again at Sausalito's Fish, where I devoured a grilled calamari sandwich a couple of years ago.
This time, I ordered the saigon salmon sandwich, a take on banh mi with grilled salmon cooked medium rare, topped with carrots, jalapeno, cilantro, and ginger-scallion sauce.
This sandwich was also outstanding: all the fixings of Little Saigon with seaside-fresh seafood and Fish's super fresh torpedo rolls. Andrew ordered the fried oyster po'boy (below), which was also tasty but not quite as good as this variation on the Vietnamese po'boy. Frankly, it's hard to go wrong with fresh fish on fresh bread, and Fish knows how to nail it.
Since my favorite Vietnamese sandwich costs $3, I was skeptical about Bun Mee, the bourgie but adorably hip banh mi spot in Pacific Heights. But after hearing some good things, I stopped by for some sammies with my mom before the Drive by Truckers concert.
We ordered two and went halvsies: five-spice chicken and smoky grilled eggplant. Though I wasn't disappointed, I also wasn't blown away. We loved the depth of flavor in the five spice chicken (below), though I couldn't distinguish the taste of the caramel aioli. The eggplant banh mi (above), dressed with cauliflower relish and red curry aioli, was underwhelming; I thought the eggplant was undercooked.
My biggest gripe, beyond the creative aiolis not standing out, was the bread. Though very fresh, it lacked the density and crustiness of the sandwiches in Little Saigon or even New Orleans po'boys. The sandwiches were good, but not great; I think I'll take Saigon Sandwiches for $3 instead.
The first time I encountered tempeh, I was a high-schooler venturing trepidatiously into a vegetarian restaurant in Atlanta, and the soy patty sandwich blew me away.
Since then, I have never had tempeh that impressed me much, until this tempeh banh mi at Urban Picnic. The protein is savory, spiced, and layered with flavor, like a good marinated meat.
More details and photos after the jump.
Philadelphia and New Orleans are great sandwich towns, but in terms of rich history and sheer diversity, it's hard to rival New York — in sandwiches, or anything. In NYC, sandwich trends are over before the rest of us have even tasted them, and there's always something new to try.
When New York Magazine's 51 best sandwiches issue arrives in the mail (with 50 more online), I see it as a scouting mission. What trends ruling the New York sandwich scene can we expect to see next? Here are five to watch from NY Mag's latest list.
- Banh mi. I love $3 Vietnamese sandwiches, and in New York, the street food is everywhere and getting a gourmet spin. In addition to traditional standouts, New York rewards the smoked pork shoulder banh mi from the Fatty 'Cue and the Sloppy Bao from Baoguette (pictured), featuring curried ground beef and jalapeño.
- Cross-cultural combos. I've been saying for years that sandwiches are the real melting pot. Like the BBQ banh mi, NYC sandwiches increasingly combine American classics with exotic ingredients. I'm drooling over the Super Heebster from Russ & Daughters — a bagel sandwich with wasabi-infused flying fish roe — and the Mumbai grilled sandwich from Mumbai Xpress.
Three more trends after the jump.
To kick off my Dublin sandwich coverage, here's a sandwich that has nothing to do with Ireland. But doesn't it look delicious? On our way to the airport, I made a not-so-quick stop at Saigon Sandwiches in the 'loin, and Andrew swung by to pick me up in a cab.
A bit excessive? Sure. But it beats crappy airport food. After all, it's important to start a vacation off on the right foot, and sometimes, that means starting at Saigon Sandwiches. What's the most ridiculous thing you've ever done to secure good food for a flight?
While Playboy's "best of" is full of what my boss calls "big, sweaty sandwiches," New York Magazine's latest sandwich list is fancier, and rich in more ways than one. The nine featured creations range from a $5 banh mi at Baoguette Pho Sure (what a great name!) to a croque monsieur at Le Cirque that I'd happily pay $16 for based on this photo.
Even crazier is the "BLT" at Char No. 4, which piles on pork belly instead of bacon, and a sausage and broccoli rabe grinder with ricotta. If anyone has tried any of these, please, feed me some recommendations! Which one has you guys salivating the most?
In New York City, I'm told, banh mi are so 2008, perhaps because the New York Times discovered them? But San Francisco's two-block Vietnamese sandwich mecca, in Little Saigon, is still very much worth a trip. Particularly Saigon Sandwiches, which despite being profiled in Esquire and Yelped silly remains a reliably cheap and unbelievably delicious hole in the wall.
The $3 sandwiches come with a limited number of filling options; the chicken, pork, and pork meatball are too divine for me to ever order the tofu. My favorite is the chicken, pictured here. Check out the mouth-watering details and an indulgent number of pics.
When people ask what my favorite sandwich is — as they often do — I can never really pick a favorite. But one of my standard answers is a chicken banh mi from Saigon Sandwiches in San Francisco. Because when it comes to the ratio of price to deliciousness, the $3 banh mi is pretty much the best sandwich ever. A tasty tribute to the benefits of colonialism, this piece of Vietnamese street food combines unusual Asian flavors like cilantro and rice vinegar with delectably crusty French bread.
A story in this week's New York Times profiles banh mi makers who are turning the sandwiches into cross-cross-cultural delights, using the French-Vietnamese platform for unlikely fillings, like Polish sausage and sloppy joe. Given that a favorite banh mi filling is pork meatball, I can imagine such meaty fillings working well against the hot peppers, crunchy carrots, and Asian mayo that typically dress a banh mi. Much the same way that po'boys and heroes have expanded beyond their origins, the boundaries of a banh mi could be pushed pretty far as long as you maintain the basic definition of the sandwich.