Sandwich Heaven with A Guilty Pleasure

October 28th, 2014 § 0 comments

Some years ago HG had public relations offices on New York’s W. 57th Street (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues), a territory that remains embedded in HG’s food focused mind as “sandwich heaven.” A quick walk west brought HG to Carnegie Delicatessen for a pastrami sandwich on authentic rye with Russian dressing, sour pickles, French fries and a Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray beverage. It was a generous plate but nothing like the overstuffed, overpriced parody of a sandwich that Carnegie serves to gullible tourists today. A shorter walk west brought HG to a coffee shop (name not recalled) for a rare roast beef sandwich with raw sliced onion on good pumpernickel bread. Potato salad and an iced coffee completed the fast feast. Sometimes HG ventured east to a deli on Sixth Avenue for smoked Nova Scotia salmon with cream cheese on an onion roll. Hot coffee. When ambitious, HG could venture just a bit further to 58th Street east of Fifth Avenue for the ultimate in sandwich perfection: This was the Reuben sandwich prepared at Reuben’s Restaurant, one of HG’s all time favorite eateries. The sandwich was incomparable. Every element–corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, rye bread–was perfect and the grilling was impeccable. Closer than Reuben’s was Rumpelmayer’s and the Monte Cristo sandwich (described in a recent post). Of course, HG could have ignored sandwiches and simply walked across the street to the Russian Tea Room for borscht and pirozshki; blini with salmon caviar and sour cream or a simple plate of eggplant orientale. Unfortunately, these dishes cried out for an accompaniment of chilled vodka which HG would not been able to resist. So, disciplined HG saved the Russian Tea Room for dinners and weekend lunches. Every two weeks or so, HG’s pal Charles E., an important advertising copywriter, would lunch with HG. (An odd fact: Charles was Jack Kerouac’s teammate on a Columbia football team.) Charles and HG would indulge in a guilty treat: Combo platters (Shrimp chop suey, egg roll, pork fried rice) served with lots of duck sauce and chinese mustard at a dingy Chinese restaurant on Sixth just north of 58th. Preceded by egg drop soup, finished with an almond cookie. Like an illicit couple, HG and Charles would leave with furtive glances, hoping that no one would note how they had breached culinary values.

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