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.


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:


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.

Sandwich of the Week

I drove to and from South Carolina last week and ate many fine sandwiches, but none worthy of the distinction of Sandwich of the Week. Then I walked around the corner from my apartment and got this.

The sandwich: Chicken parmigiana hero from Luigi’s, 88th St. and 1st Ave. in Manhattan.

The construction: Breaded chicken cutlets with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese on Italian bread. I added black pepper and red pepper because… wait, I shouldn’t have to explain that.

Important background information: If you live in the New York metropolitan area, it’s a pretty safe bet you’re no more than 15 minutes away from a pizzeria like Luigi’s at any given time. That’s not to take anything away from Luigi’s, but rather to celebrate one of the very best things about living in the New York metropolitan area. If you are a person of distinguishing taste — and if you’re reading this blog, you’re very likely a person of distinguishing taste — you likely spend the first several months of living in any new location determining your finest local option for pizza. When I lived in Westchester, it was Thornwood Pizza. In Brooklyn, Antonio’s. In Rockville Centre, Sal’s, then Gino’s. Now, in my pocket of the Upper East Side, it’s Luigi’s.

What it looks like:

How it tastes: Familiar. Grounding. Awesome.

Sometimes I get away from myself. I work so hard to find new and interesting sandwiches to write about that I overlook the amazing sandwiches that define the medium’s excellence. Do you know how many stupid, fancy sandwiches I’ve eaten that are basically one thin slice of meat, a soft cheese and some type of indistinct sweet goo on crusty artisanal bread for $11? Those kill ’em in the larger sandwich-reviewing circuit, it seems, but they’re not for me. I finish them, then shrug and think, “That was all right, I guess.” But I know no one comes here to look at a grainy photo of a paltry sandwich with a review that says only “all right, I guess.” And I’m not about to tell you the delightful essences of fig in the goo complemented the cheese’s earthy undertones and suggest you spend your hard-earned $11 on a sandwich that didn’t actually inspire me.

TedQuarters is for the people, I’ll remind you, and the people deserve the truth. And the truth is, based on my exhaustive research, roughly half of the sandwiches you’ll see in any food blog’s list of top sandwiches aren’t as good as the chicken parm hero from the best pizzeria in your neighborhood. Look at that thing. It’s f-ing perfect.

You can’t tell the scale from that photo, but it’s massive — a foot long, at least. That’s pretty standard for the chicken parm hero from the best pizzeria in your neighborhood, too. It should easily be enough food for two meals, but I have never been able to stop myself halfway through.

Because it is finished in the pizza oven, the crust of the bread becomes toasty enough to provide all the crunch a sandwich could need. Meanwhile, the sauce goes to work on the inside of the bread, soaking its way into all the crevices, adding tangy flavor and softening the loaf, ensuring that the sturdy vehicle required to carry all the meat is never overbearing.

The chicken mostly provides the meaty bulk to make the sandwich satisfying. A bad pizzeria might screw up and provide rubbery chicken, one of the primary risks inherent in the chicken parm hero. But a good pizzeria like Luigi’s gives you tender chicken, its breading aptly seasoned.

And at this point, how much more effusive praise could possibly be heaped upon melted mozzarella cheese? It adds creamy, stringy texture, and subtle, cheesy flavor, and perhaps most importantly, helps bind the chicken to the bread. It’s melted mozzarella cheese, though, so you know all about it.

This sandwich will fall short of the Hall of Fame, but only because it’s a chicken parm hero. And though it meets my expectations for a chicken parm hero, my expectations for a chicken parm hero are so high that one would need to go above and beyond to land itself in the sidebar. I suspect if I never had one before, this would be a whole different conversation.

Also, if you told me that the first sandwich ever conceived and created was a chicken parm hero, I wouldn’t believe you. The construction of the chicken parm hero is so brilliant that if sandwiches started there, I imagine they would have stayed right there for hundreds of years and we wouldn’t have nearly the diversity of sandwiches we do today.

What it’s worth: $9. And like I said, it should be plenty for two meals.

How it rates: 84 out of 100.

Travis Snider live-tweets a sandwich adventure

Beyond having made arguably the best catch in Citi Field’s short history, Pirates outfielder Travis Snider frequently tweets his meals under the awesome handle @lunchboxhero45.

I’m not sure how I missed this, but Snider recently live-tweeted a trip to Primanti Brothers, the Pittsburgh-area sandwich establishment famous for piling french fries and cole slaw on their sandwiches. NotGraphs has the full story.

Aside from how much I appreciate Major League Baseball players sharing their awesome sandwich adventures with fans, Snider’s experience gives us all something to strive for. He presents his trip to the Pittsburgh landmark, if a bit tongue-in-cheekily, as a means of thanking Pirates fans for their support in his first season with the club. And it sort of rings true: What better way to show a city your gratitude than by dining with its people at one of its most popular local haunts?

There are probably a bunch of better ways, but still, what a life goal: To someday be so famous and appreciated that eating a sandwich someplace represents a legitimate gesture of acknowledgement for all that city gave you. “You’ve been a fine host, New Orleans, so I will eat this po’ boy in appreciation.”

Friday Q&A, pt. 2: The randos

I would be a man in a solid gold suit with diamond buttons. I’m allowed to keep this stuff, right?

Since that doesn’t seem in the spirit of the question, I think I’d want to go with something incredibly elaborate and not really all that funny outside of the context of showing up to some Halloween party. Like what if you were at some friend’s Halloween party, and there’s one guy dressed as Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover, one guy with a fake goatee saying he’s his own evil twin, a couple dressed as Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, and a girl dressed as a sexy chicken or whatever, and then there’s just one dude in a full-blown, cinema-quality Predator costume?

And you might think it’d funniest if you stayed in character as the Predator the whole night, and maybe camouflage yourself against the keg and shoot the Bieber guy’s arm off. But I think the best way to play it would actually be to act like nothing’s up, not really explain why you have such an extensive Predator costume and behave like any old bro at the Halloween party. I’m envisioning a Predator playing flip-cup.

Well, the best season entirely depends on your station in life. As long as you’re still going to school, summer is by far the best season because it’s the one in which they don’t make you go to school. Once you’re not in school, summer’s really only good because of baseball and practically everything else about it kind of sucks. There’s a bunch of stuff to do, but it’s usually too hot to want to do anything. And you still feel obligated to do the stuff because that mindset of summer-is-when-you-do-fun-stuff has been programmed into you since childhood, so even if you want to just sit at home and watch baseball in the air conditioning, you look out the window and you say, “oh, sunny summer day,” and feel like a schmo for not doing anything. Then you go outside and you’re already so sweaty that it’s embarrassing to be outside. Oh, and the air conditioning’s really expensive.

The winter is also better when you’re a kid than when you’re an adult. When it snows and you’re a kid, sometimes they don’t make you go to school. And you were planning on going to school that day, so when you find out you’re off it’s a bonus-time scenario*. (And I actually liked going to school, for what it’s worth.) When you’re an adult and it snows, you’ve got to deal with it, and that’s a huge pain in the ass. Alternately, you could opt to live in a city and not deal with it, but that means negotiating disgusting city slush for several days.

Fall is cool because it has this time when football and baseball overlap. But since fall technically includes early December and early December can sometimes suck most of all, I’m going with spring on this one. There’s the promise of baseball, then baseball, and it’s before baseball has destroyed you for the year. The weather’s bearable and you’re psyched to be outside because you’ve just been all holed up for the winter. And there’s, you know, flowers and stuff. It’s poetic.

*- “Bonus time” was a concept frequently discussed among my roommates in college when we were justifying our laziness. Essentially, if you’ve got something scheduled (class, most likely) and that thing is canceled, you are not obligated to do anything productive in the time that thing was supposed to occupy even if you are busy. It’s bonus time. You didn’t expect to have this time in the first place, so why not watch Ghostbusters again?

Unfortunately, bonus time doesn’t really work out so well in real life when there’s never an end of the semester pending.

It’s the pork bomb, almost by default. While I eat a lot of sandwiches in the pursuit of sandwiches worthy of review, this has been a pretty busy week of watching playoff baseball that kept me mostly eating at home. And my typical workday lunch is a combination of two Boar’s Head deli meats and a cheese on whole-wheat bread, which gets the job done but is hardly notable. Often the selection is dictated by what’s on sale at Fairway. This week I had Ovengold Turkey, Chipotle Chicken and Vermont Cheddar. This is all fascinating stuff, I know.

I would like to take this opportunity, though, to note that my rather pedestrian-sounding lunchpail sandwiches have been improved lately by the continued inclusion of Silver Spring mustards. The most recent addition to my mustard arsenal is their Peppadew Mustard, a sweet and spicy condiment based on a trademarked South African variety of pepper that was only discovered in 1993. I haven’t had the peppadew on its own, but its mustard offspring is delicious.

Also, I had a very good chicken tikka wrap at a contemporary Indian takeout place on 28th and Lexington — “Curry Hill,” as it’s cleverly known. If you count that as a sandwich, it was probably that.

Things I ate this week!

Wait, Freeport, N.Y.? Where!? I’m really letting the Long Island South Shore Taco Bell scene slip away from me. Sad.

But yeah, there are Taco Bells in strip malls — there’s one in Queens I’ve wound up at a couple of times after I got lost trying to avoid traffic. They’re not as good as Taco Bells with drive-thrus, obviously, because who wants to stand up?