March 7, 2012

Critic’s Picks: Ithaca’s Most Delectable Sandwiches

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The sandwich: our favorite foods and sauces stacked up on each other in a compact, portable and delicious unit.  Truly wonderful and an integral part of my food world, the sandwich comes in many forms and flavors.  The following are my favorites in Ithaca.

5. Pastrami Sandwich at Shortstop

This sandwich is like most traditional deli sandwiches, except that it is stunningly delicious and definitely worth mentioning.  In my experience, most exceptional pastrami is thick and juicy, flopped messily on rye with mustard (thank you, Katz’s in New York). At Shortstop, the pastrami is thin and layered high between two bread slices. Tender, salty and not too chewy, this delectable pastrami can be paired with your own personal sandwich preferences. To me, my sandwich looks best with dollops of sauerkraut and spicy mustard, hot peppers adorning the delectable midsection of meat. I like my pastrami more traditional, but if you want to add Shortstop’s “truck sauce,” the hot sauce that is both tangy and sweet, I wouldn’t dare stop you.

4. Meatball Sub at Wegmans

As Cornell students, Wegmans seems to provide everything for our needs and desires. I can get lost marveling at the many aisles, the endless rows of “necessities.” However, it is worth snapping out of that dreamlike trance to spend some serious time in the prepared foods section. True, there is an abundance of delicious offerings, but the sandwich stop is one particularly worth visiting. The meatball sub is a cornerstone of sandwich selections — I believe everyone should have one in their repertoire of deliciousness.  Wegmans’ meatball sub makes satisfaction easy, using only a few key ingredients. The bread of the sub itself is baked and fluffy, resisting complete drenching from the marinara sauce and mozzarella. Majestically melted cheese (that always complements marinara sauce better than anything else) doesn’t distract you from the main event: perfectly round meatballs marinating in an abundant pool of sauce. Wegmans gives us a delightful version of this staple — tasty, hearty and filling.

3. Three Little Pigs at The Piggery

This trio of pork provides the perfect amount of savor to your day. Sitting back from the table at the end of the meal, you can more fully appreciate the deep satisfaction of a pulled pork taco within a pulled pork sandwich, accompanied by a hot dog topped with pulled pork (also technically a sandwich). The fact that this sandwich consists of three shouldn’t dissuade you at all. Disregard the concern for those last few, potentially painful bites because each of the “little pigs” is portioned appropriately and I promise you’ll leave the table happy. However, be warned: You will be completely full and completely content. You can also feel good about your meal because The Piggery cures their own meat and uses pork only from organic, farm-raised pigs. So please, enjoy your sandwich in the pleasant community of The Piggery with its friendly staff, and don’t forget the napkins!

2. Nick’s Half n’ Half (Po’Boy) at Maxie’s

A Po’boy is a traditional sandwich from Louisiana, seen typically with fried seafood and on fluffy, crispy French bread. Nick’s Half n’ Half at Maxie’s is no different from this prototype. This po’boy has both fried oysters and fried shrimp tucked away alongside lettuce, tomato and remoulade (traditionally French sauce simlar to tartar sauce). This seemingly simple sandwich, with its ingredients resting pleasantly on the luxuriously downy bread, stands as a totem for hunger fulfillment. The bread isn’t so dense that the starch combined with crispy, fried goodness becomes too much to handle; it is just right. Shrimp or oysters alone would never suffice, and their combined flavors and crunchy exteriors leave you feeling almost sinful. Ask for an assortment of their tasty sauces, ranging in flavor, spice and sweetness. My personal favorite, creamy mignonette, goes perfectly with the Cajun waffle fries sitting next to your po’boy.  Maxie’s serves an extremely gratifying and indulgent sandwich; I strongly suggest you get there as soon as you can.

1. Southwest Chicken Sandwich at GreenStar

Walk into GreenStar Natural Foods Market and you will be immediately absorbed into the refreshing and wholesome ambience. The hippies of Ithaca have brought local farming to a commercialized consumer industry, creating a bright and clean grocery stocked with little-known labels and healthy, hearty food. All of the items are organically produced and the prepared foods and fresh produce are locally sourced from sustainable environments; GreenStar truly works to promote healthy living. Wander over to the deli and you will be pleased with your options. Of all the inviting prospects, the Southwest Chicken sandwich truly gets first place — chicken, avocado, lettuce, tomato, onions and southwest chipotle-aioli sauce, divinely savory and combined into a crisp and crunchy panini. It is the perfect size and the right amount of heat, all with little mess. I personally do not love onions, but their spice and crispiness is enough reason for me to feast on them. If onions aren’t your thing and the spice becomes overwhelming, feel free to ask for the sandwich without them. I guarantee you will still thoroughly enjoy your money’s worth of the Southwest Chicken sandwich. Add a shot of wheatgrass to your order, scoring five pounds worth of vegetable nutrition and the ultimate rejuvenation — your body will thank you. Go to GreenStar; few experiences will be the same.­­

*Honorable Mentions

The Ice Cream Sandwich at Waffle Frolic: Waffles, Purity ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

The Panini at Tim Horton’s: Disregard the plastic-looking pictures of food. If it’s after midnight and you’re craving something delicious, choose the panini here, fortuitiously adjoined to Cold Stone Creamery.

Original Author: Carolyn Scheinberg