Sandwich of the Week

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A local go-to, here gone to.

The sandwich: The Sacramento Rancher from Au Jus, a takeout spot with three locations in New York City. The original is on 92nd and 1st in Manhattan, right near where I live, and there’s also now one on Washington and Prospect in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, right near where I used to live. The third is in East Harlem, not especially close to anywhere I’ve lived, but still sort of close to where I currently live.

The construction: Roast beef, bacon, avocado, cucumbers, lettuce, and horseradish sauce.

I get mine with fontina cheese, always. There are options for other cheeses when you order online, but I chose fontina the first time I had this sandwich and thereupon concluded that fontina is the correct cheese here. I have had this sandwich dozens of times, and I don’t think I’ve ever even considered another cheese. Delicious cheddar? Bah! This sandwich is for fontina.

Important background information: My neighborhood keeps losing great dining options. I assume it’s that the rent is too damn high. My preferred bodega closed just after the 2nd Avenue subway opened in 2017, and the space remains empty. In the past year, a beloved local Chinese restaurant, a favorite neighborhood pub, a delicious Thai soup spot, and a swanky (for the area) Cajun place I enjoyed — all within a couple blocks of my apartment — all closed or had kitchen fires and never reopened. Even the Instagrammed-up Filipino fusion spot run by a Kardashian associate went out of business.

Like most of New York City, the neighborhood always sees a lot of storefront turnover, but the recent rash of closings appears too big and too widespread to be happenstance. It seems like something’s probably broken. All these places were well-trafficked and none of them were especially cheap. Whatever the issue, it sucks. The whole point of living in the city is to be able to have a million delicious food options in walking distance, and now it feels like there are only 500,000.

Au Jus has become a mooring buoy in these turbulent culinary waters, as reliable and delicious a takeout option as exists in the neighborhood. The Sacramento Rancher is not their only excellent sandwich, but it’s the one to which I keep returning, and the one I crave fortnightly. I don’t know why it’s called the Sacramento Rancher. The top Google return for “Sacramento rancher” is this sandwich.

What it looks like: 

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How it tastes: I haven’t mapped this all out yet, but if you were to do a whole big sandwich taxonomy, I think, you’d have an entire phylum of what I’d call the Lunchmeat Sandwiches — those, like this one, built around a thinly sliced pile of some meat that is prepared for just such purposes.

And while there are obvious exceptions, I think that in the majority of the Lunchmeat Sandwiches, the lunchmeat itself is sort of secondary to the sandwich accoutrement: the cheese, the vegetables, the sauce, the (if applicable) bacon. Right? You’re never thinking, “oh man, that sliced turkey really made the turkey, bacon and cheese hero phenomenal.” The turkey is there, laying an important foundation, but it’s the cheese and bacon you really notice.

The roast beef at Au Jus is a showpiece lunchmeat that could carry a sandwich on its own. The rest of the stuff is great — and I’ll get to it — but they could just put the roast beef on a decent roll with some butter and I’d call it a Hall of Famer. Honestly, they could just wrap a big pile of this meat in butcher paper and tell me it’s a sandwich and I’d call it a Hall of Famer. It’s somehow always rare, which baffles me as a former deli man, and it’s so moist and tender and beefy that it feels closer to carpaccio than anything you’re taking home by the pound from the supermarket.

But then also there’s the other stuff, and the other stuff, here, is downright inspired. The bacon adds crunchiness, saltiness and smokiness. The fontina presents itself with creaminess and flavor but does not overpower, the avocados make the whole thing mushy and moist, the cucumbers add a little sweetness and texture.

Even the lettuce is dope. And the horseradish cream ties it together with tanginess and a hint of peppery, back-of-the-mouth spice. The bread is hearty but soft, perfectly crafted to teeter on the brink of messy sandwich destruction without ever actually falling apart.

Eat this sandwich, friends. Maybe — hey, here’s a nice day out! — take the Q train up to ol’ Yorkville, pick up some sandwiches at Au Jus, and have a little picnic on the southbound ferry from 91st Street while you take in spectacular views of the east side of Manhattan. Have you been on the ferry? It’s unbelievable. You get to ride on a boat for $2.75. Feels like cheating.

What it costs: $14. It’s a full meal.

Hall of Fame? Yup. There may be a run of Hall of Famers in the coming weeks, as I’ve had some time to bank them.

Sandwich of the Week

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As promised. Here we go.

The sandwich: Smoked turkey, bacon and mozzarella from Faicco’s in Manhattan’s West Village. The combination happens to be listed as an option on a whiteboard above the deli counter, but I feel fairly confident that Faicco’s is the type of place that would still dutifully and masterfully pile those (or any other) sandwich components on a hero even if they weren’t listed together on the menu anywhere. Which is to say: It’s a good type of place. More on that soon.

The construction: The above listed ingredients, plus lettuce and tomato. I have had this sandwich four times, twice with hot peppers. Every time, I got it with oil and vinegar as a dressing. Once, while feeling fancy, I specifically requested oil and balsamic vinegar. It comes on Italian bread, sometimes with sesame seeds.

Important background information: I’m not really moved to do any more whining about my old job in this space, so I’ll spare you some utterly un-salacious details here. But I’ll note that I had been reviewing sandwiches and food fairly regularly at For The Win until last August, when, dumb story short, I stopped doing that. Again, I don’t really want to get into it except to say that I found myself in a weird and uncomfortable position with regards to sandwich writing, which I recognize is a ridiculous thing to say.

Every time I ask readers what it is about my work that they enjoy, roughly half of the respondents reference sandwich reviews. It’s amazing and hilarious and appreciated, and it has always felt like an online identity worth cultivating because it, like so much else of what I write about, is part of my actual, analog identity.

This may be a performance of sorts, but it isn’t an act. I really do love sandwiches, folks.

The first time I went into Faicco’s, I did so with the intent of acquiring a sandwich to discuss in some forum. I found myself briefly, pathetically paralyzed by the notion of the forthcoming sandwich as #content, worrying about which option on the menu board would best lend itself to photographs, which might best grab readers’ attention, and whether it should be within my rights as an upstanding sandwich man of great integrity to take so bold a step as requesting hot peppers atop a sandwich that does not normally include them.

The point is — and I’m embarrassed to admit this — I let these motherf-ers complicate sandwiches. Heartbreaking stuff, I know. But really, in this case, all the fault lied with me and my vanity.

Then, after a few moments of agony staring at the menu board, I looked around the store and realized that, though I’d never been there before, I’d been there a thousand times before.

Except not even. Faicco’s isn’t a typical New York-area Italian deli and butcher shop so much as it is the apotheosis of the New York-area Italian deli and butcher shop, brilliantly clean and impeccably appointed, with one counter framing a beautiful store-length refrigerator lush with red meat and another guarding a dizzying cornucopia of charcuterie. It’s perfect.

What am I thinking? Why am I thinking? I know what to do in this place. I am a full-blown expert in what to do in this place. Faicco’s is a flat, belt-high, 88-mph fastball down the heart of the plate, and I am Barry Lamar Freakin’ Bonds standing in the batter’s box worried he can’t hit it. Get ahold of yourself, guy.

So I let instinct take over.

“Gimme a turkey, mutzuhrella and bacon, please,” I said, letting slip the Long Island Deli Guy accent I try to tone down on TV. “And lemme get some hot peppers on that with, uhh, oyy-uhl and vin-uh-guh.”

What it looks like: 

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How it tastes: I giggled.

After the first bite of the sandwich, eaten alone on a park bench a block away from the shop, I actually giggled. Had I really allowed myself to climb so far up my own ass that I doubted my ability to choose the right sandwich at the place that made this sandwich? This sandwich, it’s… spectacular.

And yeah, it’s but a humble combination hero of turkey, bacon and cheese, forms of which can be found practically everywhere. But it’s the perfect version of that. This is the Faicco’s of turkey, bacon and cheese sandwiches.

The turkey is sliced impossibly thin and piled high, but carefully distributed so there’s no single bite of the sandwich that’s overwhelmed by the quantity of turkey or that meat’s inherent dryness. The homemade mozzarella is fresh and creamy, the tomatoes are sweet and juicy, the lettuce is fresh, the dressing adds the acidic sting of vinegar and keeps everything moist, and the peppers, when added, provide enough heat to amplify all the other flavors.

The bacon deserves its own paragraph. I never confirmed whether the bacon they use is house bacon, but it’s so good and so flavorful that I will assume as much. It’s thick, but cooked evenly, and thoroughly crunchy without being burnt. It’s the type of bacon that makes you want to renounce the lousy, plastic-wrapped supermarket bacon you’ve been purchasing for home use and commit to buying butcher bacon from that point forward.

If it seems like a simple sandwich, it’s because you haven’t had one yet. I ate half of one on a gorgeous afternoon last week while my kid climbed on a nearby playground, and the sandwich conjured memories of carefree summer block parties or barbecues at the beach, with the subtle hint of smoke flavor from the turkey peeking through. I ate the second half alone in the narrow living room of my cave-like apartment, and the sandwich seemed moodier and more complex.

This sandwich contains multitudes. This sandwich rules.

What it costs: It’s a $15 sandwich, which sounds expensive until you hold it in your hands and realize that the thing probably weighs two pounds. I can eat a lot, but it’s difficult to fathom how someone could eat an entire Faicco’s sandwich in one sitting. Just half of one is a full meal, and when you look at it that way — $7.50 for lunch, another $7.50 for dinner — it seems like a downright bargain. I really don’t know of anywhere in Manhattan where one might find as much food of this quality for less money.

Hall of Fame? Yes. Hell yes.

Yo!

Hello, people who are still checking this site occasionally. Thanks for your faith and your patience, or, if you’re my wife, for setting TedQuarters as one of your default Firefox tabs and not bothering to change it. I appreciate it. I never meant to let it sit dormant this long, but I’ve spent the last couple of months pretty busy while learning everything I have to learn at USA Today (a work in progress), plus traveling a lot and getting over the post-Asia jetlag that lingered for weeks.

If you’re interested, the best way to find things I’ve written for USA Today is to search the site for my name. As I understand it, there should be an RSS feed for most of my stuff available soon. If you’re going to the site, check out the other sports and baseball content while you’re there. It’s good.

I got an article about the Brewers’ stolen racing sausage on the front page of the sports section a few weeks back, and I interviewed Geddy Lee of Rush about baseball. Things are off to a solid start.

After a week and a half in Florida and a week and a half in Phoenix, I should now have some more defined time away from the work computer (even despite the start of the baseball season) and I hope to post here more regularly. I can be kinda lazy, though, plus I don’t love spending more time hunched over keyboards than I need to, and my various musical instruments are right here next to the home computer begging to be noodled with.

Also: I’m sort of trying to eat healthier, so I’ve been less inclined to write about food — the likeliest lifeblood of this site if I’m not writing about the Mets here. My waistline and general health have followed something of a sine-curve pattern for about 15 years now, and I felt myself surfing a particularly long crest. It is, I’m sure, partly because I ate a whole lot of fatty food in the pursuit of fatty food worth writing about here. Boo hoo, I know. The cross I bear is made of bacon. Could be worse.

But while writing about sports is an unspeakably awesome profession, I do miss writing about things that aren’t sports. And I miss interacting with the people who regularly read this site. Plus, I’m hardly going whole-hog with a diet and I’m allowing myself an occasional cheat meal, so I should still occasionally have food fodder to blog about here.

For example: The few weeks I spent at spring training provided ample opportunity to eat fast food, even as I tried not to.

On the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco: A hearty meh. The most impressive part of the experience was the Port St. Lucie Taco Bell, which was absolutely packed at 7 p.m. on a Monday night. At one point, I counted 17 people on line. There were whole families, packs of teenagers, strung-out looking Florida meth people, and old couples who knew each other’s Taco Bell order by heart. Weird, awesome scene. It was like Taco Bell was functioning as the town square. I support that.

The taco itself was just OK. I expected to like it more than the Nacho Cheese variety, but that wasn’t the case. The Cool Ranch flavor was less assertive than its cheesy cousin, so it added the dry powdery factor that plagued the original but without the benefit of much added Doritos taste. I like Cool Ranch Doritos chips way better than Nacho Cheese, but that didn’t translate to tacos. Tiny sample size, though.

I also ate a couple of fast food burgers I’d like to compare at some point soon, so check back.

Lastly: If you haven’t heard by now, consider this a public service announcement regarding the most important news of the season: Baseball started this week, and David Wright’s 2013 at-bat song is the Luniz’ “I Got 5 On It.”

It’s not merely one of his songs, either. It’s his only song. This is a tremendous development, as I’m sure you realize. I’ve long campaigned for more funky West Coast beats at baseball games.

There was some debate in the press box over what song it was, even as I insisted I knew the song well and that it was definitely the Luniz’ “I Got 5 On It.” So a reporter asked Wright to confirm after the game, and Wright said he didn’t know the name of the band but knew the song was called “I Got 5 On It.” The reporter turned to me and acknowledged I was correct, so I nodded and said, “It’s Luniz. The Luniz.”

“Old school, right?” Wright asked.

“Yeah, West Coast,” I said.

“West Coast,” he repeated, nodding.

So David Wright asked me a question about his own at-bat music, which is the exact opposite of my typical interaction with ballplayers.

Sandwich of the Week

So this site looks a bit different today. Welcome to the new and far less active TedQuarters, I suppose. There are still some kinks to work out, all of which will take me way longer to figure out on my own than they would have with the support of my men Adam Rotter and Matt Cerrone at SNY, so be patient. And because I’m now using a stock WordPress theme, I had to make some concessions in the navigation and sidebars.

Most notably: The “Embarrassing Things about Cole Hamels” section of the blog is now just a “Cole Hamels” tab on the sidebar to the left, as spelling out the full title made the text wrap to two lines and look awful. So it goes. Know that “Cole Hamels,” here, is an abbreviation for “Embarrassing Things about Cole Hamels,” always.

Also: The Sandwich Hall of Fame list is currently a sub-category in the sandwich tab, but it’s too long for the format and you can’t access most of the sandwich reviews from many browsers. Soon, perhaps later this afternoon, I’ll create a new Sandwich Hall of Fame archive page with links to all the Hall of Fame sandwich reviews. So fear not.

Because of the theme switch, the site again uses WordPress comments instead of Disqus, meaning that two full years’ worth of awesome, hilarious, insightful comments are sort of lost to the ether. And it makes every post on this site from 2011-2012 look pretty lonely, so if you stumble upon one you like and want to leave some love, please do.

And thanks so much for all the flattering and supportive comments left on the going-away post from earlier this month. It feels incredible to know that my efforts on this site for the last several years were apparently so thoroughly appreciated. I love you, too.

The sandwich: Banh mi thit nuong, Banh Mi Cart 37, 37 Nguyen Trai, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

The construction: Grilled pork meatballs, pickled vegetables, cucumbers, cilantro, chili paste and some sort of brownish sauce on a baguette.

Important background information: I spent six days in Vietnam and tried seven different banh mi. This was the best, and it wasn’t all that close. Most of the sandwiches came from street carts or slightly glorified street carts, and in Ho Chi Minh City — where I ate the large majority of my banh mi on vacation — most of the street carts sell banh mi filled with various cold cuts, familiar and otherwise. They were all delicious, but once I tried this style, all I wanted were more like this. In fact, about an hour after I had my first, I went back for a second.

Also: Throughout our vacation, my wife and I struggled to convince locals to serve us spicy food. Many European and Australian tourists (and perhaps Americans, too, but we didn’t meet nearly so many), it seems, want no part of typically spicy Thai, Lao or Vietnamese cuisine — something we witnessed to a hilarious extent in a cooking class with some British couples who were put off by the spiciness of ginger and garlic.

So before I carry on, a plea to the Australian dude we met on a boat in Thailand and others like him: Give spicy food a chance, please. You told us you were miffed at all the restrictions they had at the place where they let you in a cage with a tiger. I promise no pepper used in common cooking anywhere presents nearly so much danger, and that developing a taste for more spice will ultimately broaden your culinary horizons and enrich your eating life. I’m not here to tell you what to do; I’m just sayin’s all.

Also, if it catches on, it’ll mean a lot less work on my end in Asia attempting to locate every vendor’s peppers or hot sauces, pointing at them, smiling, nodding vigorously and giving thumbs up. Luckily for us, the woman at the banh mi cart at 37 Nguyen Trai held up a spoonful of chili paste as she constructed the sandwich and shot us a quizzical look, so we were able to point at it, smile, nod vigorously and give thumbs up.

What it looks like:

How it tastes: Awesome. Just… awesome. Everything I could imagine wanting in a banh mi.

The banh mi cart at 37 Nguyen Trai grills tiny pork patties — think seasoned ground-pork sliders — over charcoal on a small barbecue, and there’s enough turnover that every sandwich comes with pork patties hot from the grill. They’re tender and porky, juicy but not greasy, with just a hint of black pepper flavor.

We read somewhere that much of Vietnamese cuisine is fueled by contrasting textures and flavors, a concept that should sound familiar to any loyal readers of these sandwich reviews.

This banh mi seemed the perfect embodiment of that idea: The warm pork and toasty baguette (they threw the baguette on the grill right before they put together the sandwich, a very appreciated touch) complemented the coolness of the vegetables. The intense spiciness of the chili paste matched up with the sweetness of the brown sauce. The sharpness of the cilantro complemented the acidity of the pickled vegetables.

It was crunchy and soft, spicy and sweet, hot and cold, comforting and adventurous, everything. Just an explosion of flavors and textures and general greatness. Damn. I have to go back.

What it’s worth: Oh, that’s the other thing. It cost 14,000 Dong, or about 67 cents. Plus the cost of airfare, of course, unless you’re already in Ho Chi Minh City.

How it rates: 97 out of 100. Inner circle Hall of Famer.

Friday Q&A, pt.3: Food stuff and randos

Top 10? Gil! What am I, Zagat? Here are the Top 5: 5) Adobo torta, 4) No. 7 Sub Club, 3) Fry bread taco, 2) P.B.L.T., 1) Jibarito.

Also, for what it’s worth: I’ve seen so many year-end top-sandwiches list, and almost all of them contain multiple sandwiches that I’ve tried and don’t think belong anywhere near a top sandwiches list. I suspect some of it is flavor-of-the-month stuff and some of it is sample-size issues.

My wife and I enjoyed some leftover Chinese food and watched old episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia on Netflix. Pretty good way to celebrate your birthday, actually.

Notably, the Chinese food was fish, and I enjoyed it very much. It tasted more like the delicious sauce it came in than it did fish, but this is a huge step for me. My goal is to have as few dietary restrictions as possible, so I’d like to like fish, and I never really have before.

Wait, is anyone against ice cream sandwiches? Like, anyone in the world? The only possible problem I can think of with an ice cream sandwich is that sometimes if you get a freshly made ice-cream sandwich and squeeze the cookies too hard, the ice cream pushes out of the side and you have to scramble to lick up all the ice cream before it drips all over your hands and you get brain freeze. But that’s just really not so bad.

I welcome ice cream sandwiches of all varieties. I think the classic, store-brand, rectangular ice-cream sandwich is a massively underrated dessert treat. I like how you get the weird, delicious cookie sludge all over your hands while you eat it.

Typically it’s wildly overrated. What’s worse than New Year’s Eve? Until you’re old and crotchety, you wind up pressured by someone to spend $100 on some stupid open-bar thing that’s going to be a nightmare and packed with people but because you’ve invested in it you can’t even leave if it sucks.

This year, I’ll eat fancy cheese in my apartment then go watch the fireworks in Central Park. Maybe old-person New Year’s Eve is actually underrated.

Yikes. I really hope I’m never in any type of disaster that requires robots to uncover me, and I really, really, really, really, really hope that if I ever am, they don’t send f-ing cyborg cockroaches to root me out. Trauma on trauma.

Beats me. I usually eat my fill at Citi Field, and I almost never get pizza there. I know that if you go west along Roosevelt Avenue from the park, there are a bunch of little storefront eateries and a few of them always smelled pretty good when I would go out that way for a car service ride home at my old job. And obviously if you go east on Roosevelt into Flushing, there’s pretty much all you can handle in terms of Asian food (except Laotian food, incidentally. As far as I understand it, there’s no readily available Laotian food to be purchased in New York City. Luckily I should be getting plenty of Laotian food in Laos soon). Anyone? Good pizza near (but presumably not inside) Citi Field?

Bold Flavors Snack of the Week

My wife thinks sushi is overrated and overpriced. I like sushi, but not enough to buy it for myself when my wife’s not around. And what I like most about sushi, I’m pretty sure, is the flavor of soy sauce and wasabi combined. Hence this sandwich.

Bold Flavors Snack of the Week: The Sushi Sandwich. It’s based on a California roll because those contents seemed like convenient enough ingredients to turn into a sandwich/delivery method for soy sauce and wasabi.

Here's what the Sushi Sandwich looked like.

Directions:

1) Have a whole conversation with your wife about how you’d like to eat sushi more often even though she’s not that into it. Decide that you really just like the taste of soy sauce and wasabi. Conceptualize a sandwich.

2) Have mayo, soy sauce and Sriracha in your fridge.

3) Have that very same wife stop by the grocery store on her way home from her friends’ house and pick up a baguette, a ripe avocado, wasabi and crabmeat. Use real crabmeat even though it’s a bit more expensive. The sandwiches are only going to work out to like $4 each even with the good stuff.

4) Be surprised to learn that wasabi comes in powder form when you buy it at the store. Who knew? Maybe you, but not me. This is the first time I’ve owned my own wasabi. Pretty exciting day.

5) In a small bowl, stir wasabi powder into a large dollop of mayonnaise. I used about a heaping teaspoon of wasabi powder and maybe a third of a cup of mayo, but play around with it. If there’s too much wasabi, add mayo. I made it so the wasabi flavor is very evident in the mayo, but don’t worry about getting it spicy from wasabi. Too much wasabi will probably overpower the rest of the sandwich. At least that was my rationale.

6) Add soy sauce to the mayo. This one you want to be careful with: Soy sauce packs a lot of flavor and it’s a liquid, so if you add too much you’re going to have soupy mayo on your hands (literally; it’s a messy sandwich). I probably used a half a tablespoon of soy sauce, but I didn’t measure. It’s jazz baby, jazz. When you taste your wasabi/soy mayo, you should be able to taste wasabi and soy sauce and mayo. Pretty straightforward. I thought it would be a nasty color but it turns out it’s just beige.

7) Cut avocado into slices. Eat one, because avocado is delicious. Reserve the rest for, like, 30 seconds from now.

8) Cut baguette into appropriate sandwich-sized pieces. Slice them open, preferably without fully splitting them.

9) Assemble sandwich. Mine went like this: a thin layer of the mayo on the bottom part of the bread, a layer of avocado, a scoop of crabmeat, another drizzle of the mayo to keep the crabmeat moist, then a shot of Sriracha. You probably don’t want to go nuts with the crabmeat, since that stuff’s expensive and the sandwich is going to get some bulk from the avocado. I suppose you could add the mayo mixture to the crabmeat before you put it on the sandwich to create a crab salad, but I was concerned about the color of the mayo making the whole thing look unappetizing.

10) Eat sandwich. We boiled some edamame to accompany them, since it’s both delicious and thematically relevant. Same deal for the candied ginger we had for dessert.

This is a really good sandwich, and something I think I prefer to a California roll for no more money. It captured the wasabi/soy sauce flavor I wanted, but with more crab and avocado taste than I typically get when eating sushi and the added benefit of Sriracha spice. Plus it’s got a nice mix of textures, with the crunchiness of the baguette’s crust, the chewiness of the crab and the creaminess of the avocado. Next time I might try to incorporate some thinly sliced cucumbers for a little more crispiness and moisture, but I’m not sure they’re necessary.

The only issue with the sandwich is that it was kind of a mess. Use napkins, and maybe ready a fork to scoop up fallen crabmeat.

Friday Q&A, pt. 3: The randos

Brief note: I am shocked, horrified and generally miserable after what happened in Connecticut this morning. It’s a shocking, horrifying and miserable thing. I’ve got nothing insightful to say about the subject.

I’ve seen several people suggest that anything written about anything else today is unnecessary and/or unimportant, and I certainly hear that. But nothing I ever write about here is necessary or important, and I don’t really know what else to do this afternoon but answer some silly questions about silly topics in a silly fashion. Is this the time for that? Of course not. But if you think about it that way, it’s never the time for that.

In other words: Please don’t take this stupid blog post as a lack of respect for the awful gravity of a shooting that killed 27 innocent people, 18 of them children. It’s not meant that way; it’s just a stupid blog post. I don’t blame you if you don’t feel like reading stupid blog posts today, so if that’s the case just click away. There’ll be plenty of stupid blog posts here whenever you feel up to returning.

Meggings, Rob has explained to me, are leggings for men. I don’t know why they need their own distinct name, since the term “leggings” is not at all gendered to begin with.

Regardless, they’re not for me. Maybe they’re comfortable, but my issue with pants isn’t their name but how constricting and unventilated they are, and that doesn’t seem likely to change with meggings.

Also, you guys can’t see my lower half on the web videos, but I’ve got disproportionately large legs. It’s a weird family thing. My brother held our high school’s squat record until I broke it eight years later. It’s a useful body type for pushing stuff around, but it’s decidedly the wrong build for tight pants of any sort. What I’m looking for is more of a toga or muumuu.

That is an outstanding article about a $26 chicken sandwich, and I’m far too vain to callously recommend lengthy sandwich reviews besides my own. This one’s funny and well written, and it demonstrates a very strong understanding of the nature of sandwiches. Kudos to J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, whose Food Lab posts are also consistently interesting.

These sentiments should sound familiar to TedQuarters faithful:

…the First Rule of Sandwich-Making: a sandwich must be greater than the sum of its parts.

There are implications to this statement. In order to achieve sandwich greatness, you don’t necessarily need to start with great ingredients—so long as when you add those ingredients together and put them between bread, if they are thus improved, then you have succeeded at the art of sandwich-making.

I didn’t watch the whole thing; I got home late and fast forwarded through most of it, breaking when I saw Adam Sandler, when I noticed that Kanye was wearing a skirt, and then when I caught up with the DVR during Billy Joel’s set. As a Long Islander, I am oddly comforted by the music of Billy Joel and found myself getting a cup of warm milk and taking out my contact lenses during his performance — Billy Joel was literally putting me to sleep.

I don’t particularly like Coldplay and I thought Chris Martin sounded like he might have had a cold or something, but Michael Stipe’s appearance was great. It made me think of what other R.E.M. songs I would have liked to hear, which made me think of “Stand,” which made me realize “Stand” is probably too cheery for the occasion, which ultimately made me turn down the volume during Chris Martin’s last song so I could see if there was a way to sing a sad version of “Stand.” It’s not really possible. If you slow it down a lot you can make it sound sort of wistful, but without changing the melody you’re not really going to make it full-out sad.

I thought Paul McCartney sounded pretty great, and the pyrotechnics during “Live and Let Die” were amazing. I wish he did more Beatles songs and I wish he played more than one song with Nirvana, though. And I need to go back and watch Roger Waters’ set.

Maybe. The operative part of this question is “if you were a monkey.” If I’m a monkey, I’m not into the same things that the human me is into. What do we know about monkeys? Monkeys like eating things, climbing things and throwing feces at people. You can do all of those things at Ikea!

Plus, presumably the monkey version of me wouldn’t be holding a lot of cash, both because I don’t often hold a lot of cash as a human and because monkeys are more or less unemployable. And say what you will about the food at Ikea, it’s reliably a pretty great deal. Don’t sleep on those Swedish meatballs.

Problem is, you need something that you could stomach for breakfast and something that you wouldn’t get sick of too quickly. My instinct is to say it’d be my mom’s ravioli, but I don’t know that I could handle eating it for breakfast. So it’s probably a cheeseburger, preferably one with lettuce and tomato so I get my vegetables. I could pretty much always go for a cheeseburger.

Oh, ahh… this is going to be sadder than it should be. Growing up, my family had one ornament that was a really tacky gold metallic bird with bendable legs that clamped on to the top of a branch — like a bird, get it? — instead of dangling from the branch. Everyone thought it was pretty ugly, but my brother always thought the bird was the neatest thing. The original got lost or broken or thrown out at some point before he died, but after he died, I got my parents and sister similar birds at a Christmas market in France. After I got married and started getting my own tree, my wife got me one of my own. It’s great; the bird clamps on top of the branch like real birds do. Very neat.

Thirteen spectacular pork sandwiches that aren’t the McRib

Via Paul Vargas comes Grub Street’s list of thirteen spectacular pork sandwiches that aren’t the McRib. A bunch of these will be familiar to regular TedQuarters readers. I’ve had seven of them — though I haven’t reviewed a few — and been to nine of the places listed. They’re all good, but the only ones I think I’d call “spectacular” would be the inner-circle Sandwich Hall of Famers on the list, the P.B.L.T. and the Momofuku pork bun.

Also, I keep reading about this Brooklyn Sandwich Society, and I’m obviously intrigued even if it seems a bit expensive. But I’m also massively frustrated because I used to live around the corner when there was no such sandwich society in existence. This is a map from my old place to the Brooklyn Sandwich Society:

Dammit.

Friday Q&A, pt. 2: Food stuff and randos

Via email, Carl writes:

Ted, I just ate a sandwich where the bread was too hard and all the softer stuff inside the sandwich squeezed out to  the sides every time I took a bite. It kinda ruined the sandwich for me. Do you know of any ways to stop this from happening so an otherwise good sandwich doesn’t lose its sandwichy goodness?

I’d have to see the bread to know if this will work, but you can try “scooping it out,” the common carb-cutting technique. If the crust is strong enough to hold up, pulling out some of the bready middle should create open spaces to contain the sandwich stuff, allowing it to essentially replace the part of the roll you’ve removed rather than trying to crush it between two sides of a roll.

Also, I don’t know what you’ve got inside the sandwich, but maybe try piling all the ingredients on one half, topping it with cheese, and toasting it in a toaster oven for a minute to let the cheese melt and act to bind the rest of the sandwich stuff.

What about pheasant stuffed with squab stuffed with quail? Squab is a massively underrated meat, for what it’s worth. Really good stuff.

Alternately, what about pork stuffed with lamb stuffed with beef? Obviously the cow is the biggest of these animals, but I figure you’re not going to want the beef on the outside because you’d have to dry it out to get the pork cooked. But pork on the outside means maybe you can cook the lamb and beef to medium rare, with the added benefit of the delicious pork fat seeping into the interior meats. Actually, I can’t believe I’ve never considered this before. Somebody get John Madden on the phone. We’re past due for the Porlambeef.

The Jets in a baseball game against the Mets, definitely. Who’s your offensive line, if you’re the Mets? Just based on size alone, and picking from the Mets’ whole 40-man roster, you’d probably have to go with Lucas Duda and Robert Carson at the tackles, Jeurys Familia and Anthony Recker at guards and Frank Francisco at center. Those guys would get trounced by the Jets’ defensive line. No matter how good Kirk Nieuwenhuis is in the backfield, the Mets aren’t getting a single play off against the Jets’ D. Also, the Jets have way more dudes, and for the Mets to field a full football team with everyone playing only one way, they’re going to have to field some guys who will be absolutely torn apart by NFL players.

The Jets’ ace in the hole, also, is that Jeremy Kerley can supposedly throw fastballs in the mid 90s. And every guy in their receiving corps and defensive backfield is probably fast enough and coordinated enough to lay down an occasional bunt hit then steal some bases, and cover a lot of territory defensively. The Mets would obviously still kick the crap out of them in baseball, but I think it’d be a closer game.

Not this week, sorry. I was kind of hoping no one would notice. On average, I wind up eating probably three or four sandwiches for every one that gets reviewed, and I’m planning a vacation for January and trying to be healthy and save money until then. I’m not intentionally avoiding sandwiches or anything, I just haven’t been eating sandwiches with the frequency I typically need to find a sandwich worthy of review. If I happen upon one, I’ll write it up here. More on the vacation certainly to follow, but I expect it will provide much fodder for food porn here.

It’s cool that there’s going to be some sort of professional sport on Hempstead Turnpike once the Islanders leave, but unless the Cosmos bring back Pele they’re not going to recapture the magic of having Pele on your soccer team.

I’m for it. Heartily. One of the best perks at my last job was that the soda machines had cans of Yoo-hoo for 50 cents. This office has free soda, but no Yoo-hoo. It’s good because it’s both a beverage and a dessert.

I don’t know. Wikipedia says it doesn’t even necessarily have meat in it anymore, which is about the most flagrant type of false-advertising. You can’t name a food item for another, more established type of food item when it has no relationship to that thing.

“Hey have you tried lingonbacon?”
“No, but it sounds amazing.”
“Sorry, it’s a vegetable, and it sucks.”

Friday Q&A, pt. 3: Sandwich stuff

Yes. You’d inevitably end up there anyway, but if by some strange chance you would have skipped it, go to Cafe Du Monde and get beignets. They’re fried dough that for some reason you’re allowed to eat for breakfast. They might very well be my choice for my last meal on Earth.

It’s really not hard to find great food in New Orleans. I’d say to avoid the most touristy parts, but I had a delicious chicken-fried steak at some bar a block off Bourbon St. in the middle of the damn night once. If you’re staying someplace nearby — and a lot of the hotels downtown are pretty close — it’s worth checking out Mother’s for a Ferdi Special sandwich. There’ll be a hell of a line, but the few times I’ve been there it’s been a pretty good scene.

A good one to check out is the Turducken sandwich at Luscious Foods in Park Slope. It’s a seasonal thing and I can’t say for certain they’re selling it this year, but it’s sort of a souped-up version of the traditional Thanksgiving sandwich. I meant to write it up last year around this time, but I ate it at my friends’ bar across the street and the dim lighting prevented me from taking a passable photo. If I remember correctly, they incorporate cornbread stuffing and cranberry mayo.

Also, I might as well put in a plug for people who frequently give me free drinks: If you’re at Luscious Foods, you should probably cross the street and eat it with a drink at Uncle Barry’s.

But that’s a lot of pressure! I think the Buffalo chicken sandwich might be slightly better in concept than it usually is in execution. Alternately, maybe when I’m in the mood for Buffalo-stuff I just order wings and don’t sample enough good Buffalo chicken sandwiches.

The first one that jumps out at me is actually a wrap, also in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn, at Wing Wagon on Flatbush Ave. near 7th. Man, do I love Wing Wagon. After the deli where I worked, it’s got to be the non-chain place where I’ve had the most total food in my life.

I don’t know why I sometimes ordered the wrap there, considering how much I enjoyed their wings, but I suspect it had something to do with the wrap’s inexpensiveness and its ability to convince me it was a healthier alternative to wings (even though I always still got it with fried chicken inside). It’s good though. Very spicy.

Beyond that, I don’t know. I’m very open to suggestions here. Anybody? What’s the best Buffalo chicken sandwich in New York City?

Well obviously it depends on the sandwich. If all the ingredients are fresh, though, and it’s not a sandwich that by design needs to be served hot, I generally prefer it cold. If it’s a variety of cold cuts and cheese on a Kaiser roll, for example, heating any part of it up seems unnecessary. They’re not called hot cuts, or something.