Busy weekend, very late Sandwich of the Week this week. My apologies. Here we go:
The sandwich: Pork schnitzel sandwich from Schnitzel and Things. It’s a food truck so it has no permanent location; I caught up with the Schnitzel truck on 52nd and Lexington.
The construction: Breaded pork schnitzel with lettuce, tomato and spicy sriracha mayo on a ciabatta roll.
Important background information: I wonder what happens next with the food-truck thing. As I’ve written here before, I’m not sure it’s the fleeting fad so many assume it is — though I suspect food trucks’ popularity does have something to do with the economy and everything. But I imagine it has more to do with the Internet, and smart people figuring out how to use the Internet to communicate where they’re selling their delicious food.
Truth is, food from food trucks is not appreciably cheaper than food from the myriad corporate gourmet deli places all over Midtown, it’s just way more interesting. And as someone who eats a lot of take-out lunches, I’d way rather walk an extra block to find something special — especially if it’s an option I don’t always have — than settle for some bland chicken-and-rice affair from someplace I pass every day. And based on the massive line outside the Schnitzel Truck the day I went, I’m not the only person who feels that way.
So the way I see it, food trucks could continue to provide unique food to hungry people in Manhattan and we enjoy some sort of food-truck Renaissance, ultimately reaching critical mass when there are delicious and exciting food options on practically every corner, rotating throughout the week.
Or — and this is what I fear — corporate types take note of the current trend and figure out a way to make more money out of food trucks than any single enterprise could. This, I imagine, would lead to pervasive identical trucks and rob the consumer of one of the most enjoyable aspects of the individual food truck: its novelty.
In any case, I’m going to keep enjoying our ability to find delicious and unusual food on the street as long as it lasts.
What it looks like:
How it tastes: F@#$ing amazing.
The breaded, fried pork — the schnitzel — is clearly the centerpiece of the sandwich. Shocking, I know. But somehow the breaded, fried pork actually tasted better than I expected, which is amazing considering the expectations I hold for any breaded, fried meat product.
The meat is pounded thin and tender and the breading is light, crispy and flavorful. Oh, and there’s a ton of schnitzel on the schnitzel sandwich. So much that when I opened the thing up, I thought, “OK, the reasonable thing to do would be to cut this in two and save half for dinner.” Then when I bit into it, I thought, “OK, well clearly I have to eat more than half, but I’ll try to save a little for a late-day snack.” And then after that, I have no idea what I thought because the pork was so overwhelming that I could concentrate on nothing but enjoying the pork.
The rest of the stuff on the sandwich is probably good, too, but it’s a little like trying to assess the mid-90s Bulls who were not Michael Jordan. The sriracha mayo is like Scottie Pippen. I’m pretty sure it was also really good, but it was hard to tell if it helped make the schnitzel taste more awesome or if it just itself tasted more awesome because it played with the schnitzel.
The ciabatta bread was like Dennis Rodman, in that I felt certain it could be an important foundational piece to many good sandwiches but I couldn’t be sure it was good enough to make a sandwich great all on its own. I mean, it was really good at what it did — a nice flaky crust, soft and chewy on the inside — but obviously it’s bread and so it can’t really carry a sandwich. Like Rodman, it was doing the important stuff to make the other parts of the sandwich look great, but it wasn’t itself much of a point-scorer. Also — little-known fact — this particular ciabatta hero roll also enjoyed a brief whirlwind marriage to Carmen Electra.
The lettuce and tomato were like Luc Longley and Steve Kerr because they were also there.
Clearly this metaphor sucks, but the point is that the schnitzel is a transcendent sandwich superstar likely to make any ingredients around it seem awesome. This certainly wasn’t the fanciest or most intricately constructed sandwich I’ve had, but the quality was good enough to push it into the Hall of Fame.
What it’s worth: It cost $8 and about a half-mile walk. Then it cost me the second half of my workday, because I fell into a solid food coma after I finished it.
How it rates: 91 out of 100. A deserving Hall of Famer.