Wednesday into Thursday

I watched that perennial favorite on CBS on Wednesday night – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, with its 40 year old animatronic animation. I must be working too much at where I am, or else I wouldn’t get that nagging feeling that Rudolph could have sued Santa Claus for discrimination on the basis of his disability, considering how Santa initially kept telling Rudolph and his dad Donner that there was no way little Rudolph was going to pull the sleigh with his nose so bright. I mean, geez Santa, do you really have to be such a close-minded jerk back in the day? Three cheers for tolerance, dentist-elves, and the Toys from the Isle of Misfit Toys.

Ok, so despite all that build up, I actually missed the send-off for Tom Brokaw, getting home after 7pm, but I think I’ve covered most of the tributes. Tom Brokaw’s moving on, so let’s not get all misty eyed… (well, not me anyway). has a curious assessment of the appeal of Brokaw.

Then there’s’s interesting assessment of Alexander the Great – his appeal wasn’t about his sexuality or his supremacy or majesty – it’s that he made the known world known. I haven’t seen the Alexander movie, but I just don’t think that Oliver Stone and Colin Farrell were quite able to demonstrate that aspect of Alexander. How do you convey these ideas on the big screen anyway, not when it’s so easy for the lascivious mind to examine the other stuff about him?

Ed Levine writes for NY Times about hot sandwiches – the article’s so yummy:

…Dominican and Puerto Rican establishments in all five boroughs serve a roast chicken hero, complete with dark meat and skin stripped off the bone, yielding a winning combination of salty and sweet, crispy and tender.

A lechonería is an eating place specializing in pork in many forms, and terrific heroes and hot plates at the brightly lighted Sandy’s Lechonería in East Harlem attract everyone in the neighborhood, including construction workers, business executives and the teachers in nearby schools. When you order a roast pork sandwich, the sandwich makers cut the meat freshly off a roasted leg of pork and place it in a crisp hero bread. Once the bread is heated with the pork in it, they take it from the sandwich press and add lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise, as requested. Consider it a succulent cousin of the Cuban sandwich.

They make chicken sandwiches the same way, stripping the dark meat from a quarter roast chicken on the big cutting boards that line the front of the restaurant. When you order a pork chop hero at Sandy’s, they fry a fairly thick chop in the kitchen in back before sending it up front to be cut into the sandwich. In a particularly carnivorous touch, they put the bone on top of the sandwich, which means you can gnaw the rest of the meat off it.

It was at Milanes, a modest Dominican storefront restaurant in Chelsea, that I had the chicken sandwich that sent me into orbit. Grecia Milanes, who opened her doors in 1995, strips the flesh and skin from a quarter roasted chicken and fills a Latino-style hero roll, which she toasts in the sandwich press with the meat and skin before layering lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise on the sandwich.

The crispy skin, in combination with the other components, elevate this sandwich to near-mythic status. The sweetness of the mayonnaise, the gamy meatiness of the dark meat chicken and the crispy skin make for the Dominican equivalent of a Peking duck hero. [….]

PERHAPS the ultimate cross-cultural hot hero is the sandwich that has become known as a banh mi. In “Authentic Vietnamese Cooking,” Corinne Trang translates banh mi as a Saigon baguette. She writes that the Vietnamese “took this quintessential Gallic invention and made it their own by substituting rice flour for half of the wheat flour.”

In this country banh mi are made with an Italian hero roll or a French-style baguette. In Vietnam, said Michael Huynh (his nickname is Bao), the chef and an owner of Bao Noodle, at Second Avenue and 22nd Street, the classic banh mi filling is a combination of pork roll (essentially Vietnamese bologna), pork pâté, daikon and carrots pickled in vinegar and sugar, fresh coriander and mayonnaise. The sandwich is usually toasted, mayonnaise included, before the cool pickles and coriander are added.

Here Mr. Huynh uses a French baguette made by the Parisi Bakery in Little Italy, which incidentally makes an estimable meatball parmigiana from noon to 3 p.m. on weekdays. He fills the baguette with grilled chicken thighs, pieces of pork chop or shrimp marinated in fish sauce and lemon grass; pickled vegetables; and fresh coriander. He uses a Japanese mayonnaise, Kewpie, slightly sweeter than Hellmann’s. The result is a sandwich that is perfectly balanced, simultaneously hot and cold, sweet and savory, crispy and tender.

[Plus, Levine gives a lovely description of the classic Italian-American hero sandwiches:]

The old Italian neighborhoods of Brooklyn are home to many a fine hot hero establishment. In Carroll Gardens, John and George Esposito make an exemplary hero at the pork store bearing their name, a sweet Italian sausage sandwich topped with sautéed broccoli rabe and a schmear of fresh ricotta. I turn to it when my wife accuses me of avoiding green vegetables.

Brooklyn is also where the warm roast beef hero, made with fresh mozzarella and gravy, rules. I enjoy these scrumptious beauties at John’s in Bensonhurst and at Lioni’s in Dyker Heights. But the hot roast beef – and roast pork, too – sandwich of my dreams is served at Clemente’s, a little grocery and butcher shop in Gravesend. In the same shop he started working in as a 12-year-old, Clemente Aquilino makes everything from scratch, the roast beef made from the bottom round cut, the roast loin of pork, the mozzarella and the peppery and garlicky pork and beef gravies made from pan drippings. [….]

Ah, I can easily envy Levine. As Homer Simpson would say, “Mmm. Sandwiches…” Drool…
[edit – contrary to the header, I did not do this at 2:18 in the morning…]

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