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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New Addiction

The Empire State loves to party: thus suggests recent New York Gubernatorial affairs. But we’re not the only ones. Just south of the Hudson, New Jersey has been making it's own extra sexy fun time... in the mouth. Yes indeed, good reader: the Dirty Jerz has a super hot sandwich, and they call it the Sloppy Joe.

Used in tandem, the words Sloppy and Joe are somewhat ambiguous. Seasoned ground beef on a bun? Messy roommate? “Five-diamond” sex fetish? In Essex County, NJ “Sloppy Joe” means one thing and one thing only: a double-decker sandwich whose combined simplicity, flavoracity, addictability and meatandcheesericity boggle tongue and mind alike in a cascade of wondrous non-hooker or drug-related highs. If ever there was a party in the mouth, this is it.
Anatomy of a Sandwich: A Turkey and Roast Beef Sloppy Joe from Town Hall Deli

As a sandwich, the Joe has been titillating eaters since the 1930s, when José García Río served a popular Sloppy Special at his Havana (Cuba) bar of ill hygienic repute. This towering inferno of meat, cheese and dressing on rye seduced one Mayor Thomas Sweeney of Maplewood. Back in Jersey, he still hungered for the mix. So Sweeney asked Hans Berdorf of South Orange's Town Hall Deli to recreate the experience for his card parties. Berdorf complied with a ham, tongue and (depending on who's remembering) roquefort or Swiss combo and the rest, as they say, is history.

To this day, the formula remains impressively true to its original form. A standard Joe still uses tongue, ham and Swiss cheese, whilst a healthy dose of cole slaw and Russian dressing puts the “slop” in “sloppy.” It's just as addictive as rumors suggest, which is probably why so many other sandwich makers in North Jersey have joined the fun. The breads, slaws and meats may differ, but you can always count on two naughty layers of messy sandwich love. It is something that befits an Earl, and something that actually got us across the Hudson to investigate firsthand.

So now that we have your attention, hang tight. Full reviews coming as soon as I can straighten out some Technical Difficulties...

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

WunderHam

The word “salad” evokes many things: disappointment, confusion, chagrin, metrosexuality, hippies... but never hunger. Or hardly ever.

You see good reader, here at The Porkchop Express we're always looking for ways to blow your mind with exciting new forms of delicious. When people look high we dip low. When you think zig and zag we dip and dive. When you look to the Northern Lights we head to the East my brother.

To the Upper East actually. Yes, good reader, we visited that porcine palace of Teutonic titillation Schaller & Weber, and came back with a real doozy of a mind boggler for our Ham Of The Month: a salad. A Ham Salad.
H.O.T.M.

With all due respect to old friend Cobb, Schaller & Weber's Ham Salad is about as meaty (and loose) an interpretation of the word as ever there was. For one, the only hint of vegetation comes from pickles (added for tartness and texture) and a judicious whiff of celery. Otherwise, no worries friend: what you get is ham. Several types, at that. Nice sweet smoked slices, and chunks of savory cervelat. And mayo. And that's about it.

Clearly, this is not a salad for the low of morals faint of heart. (To wit, Ms. Slab was less-than-trilled.) But if you're still reading this, you probably have a refined Ham Sensibility. The idea of “Ham Salad” might even strike a chord. Which it should. Every bite packs nothing but the finest German charcuterie New York has to offer.

So bring a pint home with a loaf of dark rye, and convince your significant other to open their hearts, minds and stomachs. And if you live with an especially grouchy Gertrude or Gerhardt (who hates flavor mayo), consider a few backups...
Tender Trio pt. 1: Mystery Loaf, Das Salami & Pig-Lox

From top left, clockwise...

Leberkaese i.e. Liver Loaf or “German Meatloaf.” Tastes pretty much like you'd expect a German loaf of meat to taste. Meaty. And loafy!

Salami (or was that Cervelat?) Go with the seductive Garlic & Peppercorn version. It's sweeter and less gamey than, say, an Italian Genoa, with a delightful meat-to-fat balance. Use of both pork and beef means it's good and good for you. “Natural Old World flavor,” indeed!

Lachsschinken i.e. Ham Lox or – literally – “Salmon Ham.” So tender and translucent, with a concentrated smoke flavor. Center cut pork (“rolled in a thin layer of fat to assure tenderness and moisture”) means relatively low-calories. It also tastes a lot like lox, which makes it the perfect pork product to mess with self-proclaimed “vegetarians who eat fish.”
Tender Trio pt. 2: Blackforesthacken, Baurenschivasinkinnem, Westphalianianian

From left to right...

Black Forest i.e. South Germany, represent! A “versatile” ham, personified. Very moist (water is added) with a titillating, smoky finish. Handsome enough for the sandwich yet durable enough for the omelet. Very similar to their Prague Ham, tho not quite as sweet (and a little smokier). NOTE: S&W describes their Prague Ham as “definitely... the ham for the discerning palate.” Way to push my Discerning Ham Palate Button, guys!

Bauernschinken i.e. Farmer's Ham. Quite similar to their Westphalian, but a tad more dense. Pressed to a good, firm consistency with Intense Ham Flavor. They say it's “similar to Prociutto, but smoked and mildly seasoned.” So behave.

Westphalian i.e. North Germany, represent! Nice fat content which gave it a bit more sweetness than the Farmboy. Unique old world flavor, and still “made the same way it was centuries ago” (hardwood fires with a touch of juniper). A non-ham side salad (gasp!) - say, potato with bacon – helps temper the saltiness.So there you have it, friend: more enough to keep you busy, and a hint at what awaits on your visit to S&W: a whole lotta ham.

One final word on the store. This is easily the largest concentration of smoked German meats I've seen in NYC, and the smells are plenty intoxicating. Plus, it's a refreshingly down-to-earth, unpretentious place. Fame and fortune notwithstanding, this family-owned operation (since 1937) has managed to preserve an inviting neighborhood feel. Son-of-original-Schaller, Ralph, still oversees just about everything. And the butcher staff is professional and welcoming.

So why are you still reading? Head on up to the hinterlands of the Upper East Side... and get your Ham on. After all, it's that time of the month!


Schaller & Weber
1654 Second Avenue (at 86th Street)
Upper East Side, New York, NY
(212) 879-3047
Open Mondays thru Saturdays until 6pm.


Thanks again to the good mensch of S&W, for giving the Slab the Deluxe Ham Tour.

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