There is no end to what you can shove between two slices of bread and call a sandwich, and that, of course, is the beauty of the thing. But is everything edible suitable sandwich material?
That was the point brought up for debate the other night at El Quinto Pino, the new taperia from the Tía Pol folks, where the UG tucked into a ficelle smeared with rich blobs of sea-urchin roe. Oddly, the sandwich in question was listed on the otherwise all-Spanish chalkboard menu as an “uni panini.” It came swaddled in a wax-paper jacket like a Danny Meyer Shackburger, still warm from a gentle turn in the sandwich press and smeared with butter flavored with a zingy Korean mustard oil. And although it was only about the size of a Tootsie Roll and the UG could have finished it off in a bite and a half, it was the kind of toothsome tidbit you want to savor slowly.
Customers at Chelsea’s Swich kill time waiting for their panini with one of the strangest of New York restaurant entertainments: SwichTV, a continuous loop of weird, soundless, Dada-like performances by random people shown on a big flat-panel display. (Two typical examples can be seen above.) Owner John Gargiulo creates the movies, which feature such stone-faced characters as Charade Girl, Awkward Mary, and What’s in the Box Guy, but feels that the videos have gotten a little stale. So he plans to do a new batch and is inviting all Grub Street readers to contact him for inclusion. There is no pay and no credit, but if you're chosen, you will have the pride of starring in videos about which Gargiulo says, “Most people get it, while others stare at it like ‘what the f*!k is this?‘”
Earlier: Swich On: New Shop Suggests Eventual Empire
Last week, the Underground Gourmet recommended Zingerman's Reuben sandwich kit as the perfect holiday gift for the sandwich nut on your list. This week — in acknowledgement of the fact that even Kate's Paperie cannot wrap a Reuben sandwich well enough so that placing it beneath a Christmas tree for several days would not run the risk of Taco-Belling the giftee — the UG has come up with a superb alternative gift idea. It's the new book, called Simple Italian Sandwiches (HarperCollins; $21.95), by Jennifer and Jason Denton, and it requires no refrigeration. As anyone who knows anything about Italian sandwiches is aware, Jason Denton is to panini, bruschetta, and tramezzini what Masa Takayama is to sushi, sashimi, and Kobe sukiyaki. The Dentons opened the West Village panini parlor 'ino back in 1998, and it's fair to say that they started the whole local craze for delicately balanced, deceptively simple Italian sandwiches, and that no one outside of the Boot does a better job of it.