Friday Q&A, pt. 3: Food stuff

Via email, Nick writes:

I am a sandwich enthusiast not unlike you. But one component you do net seem to delve into as much as you should is Ssuce. Not Sriracha or Cholula, I’m talking a sauce with many components that can turn a regular sandwich into… well I will let you finish that. Come on Ted, I am disappointed.

I followed up with Nick to ask what sort of sauce he meant, if not Sriracha or Cholula — two of the saucier hot sauces, for what it’s worth. He added:

I’m talking a house sauce. There’s a couple places in my home town that I go just to buy some sauce to keep in my fridge (picante, ranch). I put them on any sandwich to change the dynamic or to dip sandwich in. It is nearly impossible to replicate these sauces in your own kitchen and not your standard store bought. A good sauce is like the bloodline of good food.

I didn’t realize I have given sauces the short shrift here, so I apologize to anyone else disappointed or in some way offended. It’s always a case by case thing, but typically I feel sauces are best as a complement to the rest of the ingredients, not the dominant flavor. So I usually discuss sauces when they are incorporated in good sandwiches and rarely otherwise.

Here are three sauces I very much enjoy:

– Green sauce from Pio Pio: The green sauce from Pio Pio is pretty much the best thing. It’s spicy, but in a different way than most spicy things, and it’s creamy and tangy and somehow fresh tasting. There are a bunch of Pio Pios around the city. No sandwiches there, but the chicken is delicious. Get some, then take home as much of the green sauce as they’ll let you have. It’s good on everything.

– Honey mustard from Chili’s: Judge away. The honey mustard from Chili’s has to be at least 90 percent pure fat, with the remaining ten percent contributing to a pleasant honey-mustardy mix of sweetness and tang. It’s amazing. You guys.

– Barbecue sauce from Rocklands: Rocklands is a four-location barbecue restaurant in the DC area. One of the locations happens to be right near the now-closed bar where my band used to play every week, which led to a lot of Rocklands. Really good barbecue, really good barbecue sauce. It’s the more liquidy type of barbecue sauce, served hot with a ladle from a cauldron. And you have to work around the onions if you don’t particularly like onions. But it’s great: Very vinegary, a little bit sweet.

Obviously various breads are useful for various sandwiches, but for a straightforward deli sandwich I like a straightforward Kaiser roll. It’s got a nice crunchiness to the crust, it’s sturdy enough to handle a good saucing, and it’s airy enough on the inside to get out of the way of the sandwich stuff.

For what it’s worth, I generally prefer a Kaiser roll even to its larger cousin, the hero. No disrespect to heroes, but a hero is usually slightly more food and more bread than I’m looking to eat. Often I eat it all anyway, though.

Apparently, the Kaiser roll is thought to be named for Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria. It was invented in Vienna while bakers there were experimenting with new leavening methods.

My method is to go to Fairway, hang around the cheese counter until the redheaded guy who kind of looks like Bill Burr shows up, then ask him what cheeses I should get so he tells me all about their cheese selection and gives me a bunch of free samples.

We brought something called Young Farmer’s Gouda to my parents’ house on Thanksgiving and it was excellent. I also very much like a cheese they have at Fairway called Midnight Moon.

I think a good method for a cheese platter is to mix up your cheeses. Maybe go with one from cow milk, one from sheep’s milk and one from goat’s milk, or one sharp, one mild and one stinky.

Can 1-year-olds eat deli meat? If you’re entertaining, you’re going to want a couple of things everyone likes. Turkey is always a safe bet, maybe honey-maple turkey if you want to be fancy about it. Maybe roast beef for that, too, but roast beef is tricky because good roast beef typically comes in huge slices that aren’t as easily manageable. Ham’s also fine, but I feel like people who are into ham would also be down with trying the soppressata and hot coppa that you should also buy, so it might be unnecessary. A lot of this depends on who’s coming over. If your friends are lame they’re not going to want to try exotic Italian meats, and you might want to consider making new friends.

Well, a sandwich on a croissant is fine. In that case, the croissant’s basically just acting as a soft roll and it’s plenty delicious.

A burger on a doughnut is another thing entirely. I haven’t tried one and I haven’t had the opportunity to try one. It’s a bit like bungee jumping, in that it’s something I will always maintain and actually believe that I’m willing to do until I’m faced with actually being able to do it, at which point I grow timid. Burger on a doughnut. It’s obviously gimmicky, and I think it might be taking everything way too far. It’s hard for me to figure out how a doughnut would improve a burger.

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