Sunday, March 16, 2008

From Karaoke to the Ukraine!

Yes, driving drunk is bad. But so is the "I was responsible" forty minute bus ride to pick up your car the day after you belt out The Girl Is Mine at a karaoke bar (Paul, I think I told you. I'm a lover, not a fighter!).

After about 25 minutes of whisper-screaming into my cell phone (I know, but I get bored on the bus) I hopped off right in front of a little ethnic market and produce stand on 105th & Greenwood. It was fate! Seriously cheap fate, it turns out.

I had already browsed my corporate neighborhood grocery that morning, foraging ingredients for the night's Indian themed dinner. A package of dried, whole, red chilies was going for $5, and I flat out refused to pay it.

But here at Lenny's Fruits and Vegetables/Ukraine International Foods, dried whole chilies are yours for a cool 79 cents!!

For $5.36 I got:

(dried shitake mushrooms, rice stick noodles, a bunch of fresh cilantro, dried peppers, and a huge sack of black sesame seeds)

Oy! I love a bargain! And an ethnic grocery. Even if I have no idea what to do with the countless jars of shrimp paste, lychee in syrup, and mystery cans of Vietnamese surprise.

The nice thing about this particular little treasure (I can't type that expression without snickering), is that if you happen to hate all Asian and Mexican foods (which not only brands you a fool, but a racist as well) there is a full-on Ukrainian deli in the back! Meat tubes of all shapes and sizes and glorious cheeses as far as the eye can see! And it's common knowledge that no one, and I mean no one, can turn down a Ukrainian meat tube.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Earl of Sandwich: I Salute You

Oh boy, do I love getting mail. It's like magic! You open up the little box, and there is stuff in there waiting for you! I love the "Happy Birthday" postcard my dentist sends me, I love the Latina magazine that belongs to a lady down the street, that ends up in my box. And best of all, I love the sweet little red envelope we have all come to recognize as Netflix. I hadn't gussied up my long-as-Crystal-Gayle's-Hair queue in ages, so imagine my surprise when I found the hard hitting, groundbreaking documentary Sandwiches You Will Like in my very mailbox.

Um, okay, you can totally wipe that face off your head. Like you've never watched a sandwich documentary. Pfffft. Please!

Anyway, this visual sandwichpalooza launched me into a sandwich frenzy.
Frenzy meaning, I ate three sandwiches this past week, two that will make you wanna hug your grandma.

Never underestimate the potential of a grocery store sandwich. Pete's is a small, unassuming shop right across the gravel road from the east shore of Lake Union. The crumbly storefront is a clever disguise for what's inside: aisles of fine wines, an impressive cheese selection, and a deli where you might spend 18 minutes deciding what to stack between two slices of bread *cough*.

After a long fret, I chose to fill my soft roll with peppered turkey, capicolla (paper-thin slices of Italian spiced ham) , provolone (I really wanted my boyfriend brie. Oh, Brie! But I used my willpower to stick with the Italian theme) roasted red peppers, balsamic, red onions, and lettuce. Momma mia! (I am allowed to toss around obnoxious, cliche Italian phrases, since I sacrificed the brie for provolone) This was a mighty fine sandwich! A sandwich with a view, enjoyed just blocks away from work.

Sandwich number two takes us to beautiful Aurora/Highway 99. I was driving back to work after interviewing several homeless people (I'm living the dream, people) when I remembered Barriga Llena, Seattle's newest (uh, and only) torta shop. Desperate for authentic over-the-counter Mexican food, I took the Spanish-only menu as a good sign.

Barriga Llena's specialty is the Barrigona, a torta stuffed with Old McDonald's entire farm: breaded steak, chorizo, pork leg, cheese, and a hot dog. Seeking semi-purity, I opted for the steak, pork leg and cheese. A Mexican roll, the size of my size-9 foot, is stuffed with the meat menagerie, mayo, mashed avocado, lettuce, tomato (no thanks) and then grilled 'til melty.

Every single person who walked by my desk stopped to gawk at the carnivorous creation. But as the after-school specials of my youth taught: looks aren't everything. The massive, fried steak reeked of elementary school cafeteria food, which sort of brought down the entire torta. And after I polished it off, my stomach felt like it was toting a toaster. But, on the plus side, the thick, brick red (homemade?) hot sauce was top notch, and helped ease the blow.

Nothing screams healthy like a big, fat, deliciously drippy, aoili-trickling-down-to-your-elbow Cuban sandwich. Which is exactly why I ate one right before a long walk around Green Lake.

Paseo has no sign, but you'll be tipped off to it's whereabouts by the hungry mob lined up on Fremont Avenue. This is, hands down, my favorite sandwich in Seattle. Order the Midnight Cuban Press and get hunks of slow roasted pork, thin slices of ham, melty cheese, sweet chunks of caramelized onion, cilantro, hot peppers and garlicky aoli shoved into a crusty roll and grilled. You will need 800 napkins. You will make embarrassing moaning and groaning noises. You will wait in line for this massive sandwich.

When I don't have time to take a nap after lunch, I order the scallop sandwich. About six or seven fat scallops peak out of the baguette, along with those perfect onions, jalepenos, garlic aoli, cilantro and a leaf or two of romaine. If you manage to capture one of the few tables inside Paseo, you will be rewarded with a half a corn on the cob smeared with more yummy tasties.

Forget President's Day, I think we need a three day weekend in honor of the Earl of Sandwich.