HEY HEY! Today, wholly in the warm clasp of the Cs, we come to the Cheesesteak comma Philly.
The noble Philly Cheesesteak is the introductory sandwich of many lifetime sandwich enthusiasts. Dating back eighty-odd years, the marriage of thin-sliced beef, grilled onions and mushrooms, mayonnaise, sometimes peppers (hot or sweet are both acceptable), AND A (“)CHEESE(“) is both beautiful and impressive. The battle rages on between those who insist on “traditional” provolone, and those who demand recognition for a “steak with ‘whiz,” as in, a cheesesteak with Cheez Whiz, which, honestly, sounds terrible, but I’m willing to try most anything, and how bad could extra-salty cheese-flavored cheese-food product be on a steak sandwich? The bread is evidently Amoroso or Vilotti-Pisanelli, the latter of which sounds like an extremely profitable merger or the overwrought stylings of a couple who couldn’t choose between either complicated last name for their child. Thin and long and soft, I knew no standard hoagie roll nor baguette would suffice, here.
Having not grown up anywhere near Philadelphia nor the east coast of the continental United States, I’ve never had a proper Philly, thus felt utterly unqualified to prepare my own Vicomtesse’s Special Philadelphia-Brand Cheesing Steak. We were off, then, to a purportedly fine (Her Eminence has been singing its praises for years) purveyor of the sandwich here in town, Shut Up and Eat to outsource it, as with the Barbecue and Banh Mi sandwiches.
We didn’t make ’em! We just paid for them (called Broad Street Bombers at SUAE) and took our beers and a seat, eyeing each others’ meaty upper arms a bit dangerously. I am sad to report they had no Cheez Whiz, but apparently they get asked that semi-regularly! Finally, they arrived. They certainly looked perfect:
The beef, the onions, the peppers, even the mayo and provolone were perfect. The beef tore apart perfectly, the cheap cut made perfect, the slight amount of gristle adding texture and interest rather than chewy uselessness. The draped, melted cheese bound the onions to the peppers to the beef, and the bite was good, and chewy, but the bread was WRONG. Here in Portland we just keep dressing up sandwiches that are already perfect. Look, the elk burger with baby shallots and baby salmonella sprouts and baby avocadian spears is really good, but so is just a damn ordinary burger. The bread on the Bomber was a fine some-kind-of-sourdough with a hearty crumb, great flavor, and a long chew – really good bread! But we’re not looking for really good bread – you want a cheap, white, long roll, softened with preservatives and dough conditioners, perfected with salt and probably sugar, maybe even an artificial fat of some kind, margarine or whatever.
Do you immediately want another of this sandwich?
Her Eminence and Her Eminence’s Boyfriend appeared to greatly enjoy theirs, though H.E.B. got a chicken Bomber instead, reporting it delicious and quickly eliminated. Her Eminence disagreed a skosh with me on the wrongness of the bread, which I understand – it was pretty good bread, after all, and a great sandwich on its own merits.
The Vicomtesse: Look, guys. The sandwich was great! Really, it was fabulous. But she just weren’t no Philly – the bread is VERY IMPORTANT – and I’ll have to wait til I visit a friend who moved there recently to eat a real one.
that said there aren’t a lot of sandwiches out there that I don’t immediately want another of – it was good, and yes, my friends, my heart, always