The Sandwich Cure
After the Tour de Italian Deli, I admitted to being wrong. Today, I’m putting the exclamation point on that earlier statement.
Seriously, how could I have been so wrong? Only a few months ago, I had thought that Italian sandwiches should be consumed on the spot. And you know what? Perhaps in some cities and towns that’s actually true. But here in the Capital Region, I’m coming to realize that regardless of if you’re ordering cold cuts or a hot sub, that sandwich is going to need some time to cure.
The issue is the bread. It’s dry, and doesn’t have much flavor. So it absolutely needs to absorb some of the moisture from the sandwich within and soften a bit. The other solution would be to toast the rolls under the salamander like they do at Hoagie Haven in Princeton. But nobody seems to do that here.
I’ve also come to terms that Burnt My Fingers is probably right when it comes to the sandwiches at Roma in Saratoga Springs being superior to those from the Roma in Latham.
Here’s the tale of two recent sandwiches.
Italian Mix is not for me. Far too often it comes with lean Boar’s Head cappy, which is simply a spongy spicy ham, and I’m not happy about how it’s going around passing for capicola.
At Roma in Latham, I was told that the Italian Mix comes with lean cappy, salami, and pepperoni. I learned that I didn’t care for the salami and pepperoni combo. It was too much ground up fat for my taste, so I went with fatty cappy, salami, and sharp provolone. I smartly skipped the tomato, and went for shredded iceberg lettuce, sliced red onion, oil and vinegar, and salt and pepper.
This time, I decided to let my sandwich cure. The anticipation was killing me. And all in all, it was a pretty good sandwich, there was just something lacking. No, it wasn’t the tomatoes. It was the oil.
Man, this sandwich would have been so much better had the oil been better. A little fruitiness would have totally elevated the thing to monumental heights. But instead of an aromatic olive oil, what was used to dress the sandwich felt more like a neutral canola oil, which did little more than make the bun a bit more slippery on the way down.
I heard from an inside source about the history of the two Romas, and how each brother has not only a different approach to food, but a different customer base to please. So I’m not going to let the minor lapses of the Latham sandwich slow my march up to Saratoga Springs to grab one of their specimens.
Then just yesterday, I forgot everything I knew and ate a meatball sub at Carluccio’s deli in Troy right on the spot at the counter.
Yes, they make their own meatballs. And I loved how this signature sub added hot cherry peppers to the mix. That was truly delightful. But dammit, this thing should have stayed in foil for about another 20 minutes at least before we ate it. The bread would have softened, the cheese would have fully melted, and it would have been glorious.
Still, it was quite good. Generally, I prefer when the interior seam of a sliced sub roll is lined with cheese. It works well for cheesesteaks because the crumb of the bread is already tender. On these upstate New York rolls with a firmer crumb, I really wanted the interior of the sandwich to have absorbed some of the tomato sauce.
And I don’t know why, but for all things mozzarella, I really want that cheese to have picked up some blistered spots of browning from under a broiler. However, with the build of this sandwich, that will never ever happen.
What I hate more than anything else is having to relearn the same lesson time after time. Let Italian sandwiches rest. Buy them in advance. Munch on a bag of chips if need be while you wait for your lunch to reach its peak. And bring someone with you to help you eat the damn thing.
Soon, I’m going to master these sandwiches. Then we can try and find a cure for the twenty pounds I packed on in the process.