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 have yet to dine at Maverick or Flour + Water, though both are on my list. So in between catching sets by MGMT, The Roots, Vetiver, Mavis Staples, Beirut, and many more at this weekend's Outside Lands festival in Golden Gate Park, I sampled sandwich offerings from these two must-eat San Francisco eateries.
I love that Outside Lands eschews typical festival fare for booths from local restaurants, including my beloved Phil'z Coffee, Andalu, Memphis Minnie's, Namu, and on and on.
Mission district American hot spot Maverick featured just one offering: a Cincinnati pulled pork sandwich, dressed with coleslaw (pictured above). The tender, plush pork came on a soft potato-like roll, with potato chips on the side (which incidentally started blowing away with the wind, tragic). I washed mine down with a pisco punch before grabbing a spot at Girl Talk.
On Sunday, we stopped by Salumeria by Flour + Water, which also kept things simple with a single sandwich: peppery roasted porchetta on a standout ciabatta roll. It's hard to find a perfect ciabatta, but when I do, I consider it one of the most satisfying sandwich vehicles. The meat was succulently spiced and chopped, rather than sliced, with some sort of onion jam (I think) to complement the robust meat.
Did you make it to the festival this weekend? If so, what did you eat to fortify yourself for the fun?
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.