This was supposed to come this weekend, but this weekend came first. That happens sometimes. I had two hits in baseball but struck out in a big spot in the ninth. Totally unclutch. Still reeling.
The sandwich: Adobo torta from the Mexico Blvd truck, which was parked on 48th St. between 6th and 7th in Manhattan on Friday.
The construction: Pork loin “marinated for 24 hours in [their] great grandmother’s adobo,” sour cream, lettuce, tomato, jalapenos, onion and avocado.
A sign on the counter said, “Ask for XXX Spicy,” but I’m never sure if that means deliciously spicy or oh holy hell I asked the Thai place for extra spicy and now they’re obviously punishing me for it spicy. So I sort of mumbled “spicy,” after I ordered and didn’t say “XXX Spicy.” So I don’t know if this was the spicy or regular version. It came with chips and a small plastic container of hot sauce, which I used.
Important background information: I thought I had a nice little window of time carved out to purchase this sandwich, bring it back to the office, photograph it, eat it, then get down to the studio in time for the 1 o’clock thing I had to do there. But then– oh man, this story is going to be really boring. Work!
Point is, I wound up having to eat the thing in something of a hurry on a crowded bench bordering a fountain in Midtown. It was a blustery day and I was trying to secure as much personal space as possible and keep myself reasonably tidy. So I had to politely position myself between fellow bench-bound lunchers, carefully arrange the bag the sandwich came in under one leg and some napkins under the other so they didn’t blow away, then rest the carton on my lap on top of a bunch more napkins to protect my pants from what looked to be a not-insignificant portion of that adobo sauce.
What it looks like:
How it tastes: Within five minutes, the people to my immediate left and right have both finished lunch and left the bench, and a group of twenty-something business-casual types are hovering over me, obviously hoping I will scoot down the bench to make room for their full party as any reasonable and decent human being should in that situation.
I am going nowhere. My fists are full of amazing torta, and adobo sauce is dripping down my arms and splattered over my pants. The bag I took so much care to secure is adrift in the fountain, sailing north in the fall breeze. I felt it come loose when I leaned forward to prevent the sauce from spilling on the crotch area of my pants once the spillage was clearly inevitable, but the torta was way, way too good to worry about littering.
About that: Man, oh man. It tastes like what I imagine my Mexican great-grandmother’s cooking would taste like if I were Mexican and knew my great-grandmother. The flavor of the adobo — this is hard to describe — it’s almost cozy, something that makes you feel warm from the inside, not because it’s warm (which it is) but because it’s, well, warming. It makes me feel like I am being hugged by pork, and that’s the best feeling. Does that make any sense? I think it might have to do with cinnamon, but I’m not even certain there’s cinnamon in there.
Oh, and the pork loin — in a layer of thick hunks — is so tender it bites like a cheesesteak or something. Texturally, it makes for a nice contrast with the crispy the lettuce and the creamy avocado. There’s tomato and sour cream on there — Adobo Torta Supreme? — but they don’t factor into the flavor as much as you’d guess as the adobo’s pretty powerful, and if you add some of the hot sauce there’s a healthy kick, I suspect from habaneros but don’t quote me.
The bread’s soft and delicious too. It’s not quite enough to contain the sauce, sour cream and meat, but I’m not sure anything would be. This is an amazing sandwich, but you’re probably going to want to invest in a plate, or use a table, or eat it on laundry day. Or do what I do and just stop caring about getting sauce on your pants. It’s great. So liberating!
At one point, when the younguns in their trousers started straight-up staring at me, I’m pretty sure I actually snarled at them. I am nearly certain I had sauce dripping down my chin while I did it, and they looked rather disturbed and soon sought bench-space elsewhere. Good. Every man for himself out here. See that pile of napkins, dripping with adobo and sour cream, cascading off my pants and onto the bench around me? That’s the flag of my people, bro. My territory.
What it’s worth: I think eight bucks, plus the cost of laundry.
How it rates: 92 out of 100. Hall of Fame.
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The last paragraph made me laugh so hard I almost cried. Keep up the good work!
P.S. If you feel like going a few stops into Brooklyn on the A train I highly recommended David’s Brisket House. Order the namesake with their gravy-like au jus.