Dec 11, 2009

Sandwiches, Part Two: Jewish Deli Love

When I read Jill's comment below, that I'd hate Jewish deli sandwiches, I realized I had to respond. What I don't like is a WAD of meat. The correct way to make a sandwich, and they do this in a proper Jewish deli, is to slice the meat very thinly and carelessly throw it in the sandwich partly crumpled, which creates a very important ingredient: air.

So, yes, I love Jewish deli sandwiches. In particular, I love Koch's Deli. Years ago, I lived in University City and had to walk six blocks to wash my clothes. One frigid day as I dragged my cart along the icy sidewalks with my tri-weekly laundry load, wondering if I was ever going to finish my dissertation, find true love, get a job, or convince my landlady to let me use her washer, I realized I was hungry. After dropping off my laundry, I wandered next door, where I had seen a deli sign. I opened the door and a blast of home-cured pastrami aroma almost knocked me over. A huge line of happy expectant people--black, white, Asian, young and old--waited for sandwiches from two guys telling jokes while they passed around plates of fresh-cut meats and cheeses. This is it, I thought, this is the happy place. Koch's Deli has been sucking in all the local warmth, good will and optimism. So whenever I did my laundry I would get some artery-clogging sandwich with pastrami, cole slaw, and rye bread. That's also where I learned to crave black and white cookies.

Please click on that link up there, it's just like I remember. Must. Return. To Koch's.

Dec 10, 2009

Sandwich City, and I Don't Mean New York: Argan and Arbol Cafe

You know what Liz Lemon says about Americans, that we are all the same, all of us searching for a great sandwich. She would like Philly, and not just for its cheese steaks. If she ever finds herself walking along 17th St. at lunchtime, she would discover, just a couple of doors south of Bonte with it's insanely delicious sugar waffles, Argan. I got a very fresh,delicious veggie sandwich there last week. The bread had semolina flour and reminded me a little of cornbread. You order your own custom sandwich, and mine had an eggplant spread, roasted green peppers, onions, white beans, and lettuce.

Then two days ago I was walking through Northern Liberties and spotted Arbol Cafe, where I got a Paraguayan sandwich or "lomito" with a fried egg, one slice of ham, one of beef, one of cheese, lettuce, mayo, and tomato on brioche. Juicy and fabulous. I don't like sandwiches with a big old wad of meat. The proportion of meat should be modest. Arbol is run by a married couple, and the husband/sandwichmaker is from Paraguay. It has a corner garden with a grill ("parilla") and it would be a lovely place to linger on a summer evening with a bottle of Chilean wine, watching the neighborhood action. It's on Poplar, very close to North Bowl and Standard Tap.

I don't usually spend my days wandering about the city in search of international sandwiches, but it does seem like it, doesn't it? I'm working on a new writing project that has nothing to do with food, and for inspiration I went to hear Amy Goodman at the Free Library. That was the Moroccan Sandwich Day. Then I interviewed someone about my next project. That was Paraguayan Sandwich Day. Today is the day I realize I should get a job to support the sandwich habit, let alone the writing habit and the April AWP Conference in Denver. Maybe one of today's batch of five query letters will result in a jackpot. Then again, perhaps Liz is hiring a sandwich lady?

Dec 2, 2009

Chocolate and Zucchini (not the blog but the actual foodstuffs)

Pant, pant, pant. Just came in from an hour-long walk in the woods with Zane. That's him panting, not me.

I'm trying to work off some Thanksgiving pounds, due my own rich cooking, for which I abandoned all my principles. I made mashed potatoes with a stick of butter--according to Will, "the best mashed potatoes ever." And stuffing with another stick of butter and chicken livers in addition to the cornbread, sage, and celery. Then I had leftover chicken livers so of course I had to go and make some chicken liver pate. And what do you know, there was a LOT of everything left over since we had only five people for Thanksgiving. I repurposed the pate using a dainty little sorbet scoop and a few sprightly sprigs of Italian parsley for another dinner we had for some friends. There was still quite a bit left. Lordy. Oh and the pumpkin pie, well that had cream and maple syrup and please tell me why I am going on and on?

So anyway for Will's birthday, which always falls on a day, Nov. 30, when one is bursting at the seams and feeling quite penitent, wanted brownies for the in-school treat. Naturally, I had to sample two of the inside brownies when they were still warm and any miscellaneous "crumbs." Then I made him a Chocolate Zucchini Cake for his birthday dinner that I had made in the summer for the town potluck. I never got to actually have any of my own cake that day because it was demolished by all the people who decided to put dessert on their plates before they'd eaten the main course. You know who you are. This time, I didn't make the glaze, just couldn't bring myself to do it. One must draw the line somewhere. The cake recipe is from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking. This cake has only whole wheat flour and Will loves it as much as he loved the brownies, with their white flour and ungodly amounts of butter and sugar. You just never know. These kids. His other request for his birthday was mac and cheese. I used Amish smoked cheddar. Insanely delicious.

Gotta go. Lots to do. As you can tell from my syntax. This blog is sporadic. I know. Deal.