Friday, October 24, 2008

Cheesesteak vs. Cubano

The traditional wager between the mayors is a bit uneven this year:
[Philadelphia Mayor Michael] Nutter offered Philly cheesesteaks, Tastykakes, soft pretzels, mac-n-cheese from Delilah's Southern Café and a Rocky statue. Cheesesteaks and soft pretzels are among the glories of American street food, but Nutter's proposed rotation looks pitifully thin beyond those treats . . .

. . . Meanwhile, the Florida mayors countered with: stone crab claws from Frenchy's, in Clearwater; a definitive version of the Cubano from the famed Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City; Cuesta-Rey Centro Fino Cortez Cigars from J.C. Newman's (outside of Havana, Tampa is the place to go for handrolled Cubans, and Newman's is the finest in Tampa), and real key lime pie, from the Fourth Street Shrimp Store, in St. Pete.
People in Philly are somewhat embarrassed that Nutter couldn't do better. I can't imagine it's easy to come up with good stuff for these sorts of things. Really -- and Mr. Thursday, please feel free to chime in -- what does Philadelphia have beyond cheesesteaks to offer? I don't know that town too well, so I have no idea.

It's times like these that make me fear that the Blue Jackets will make the Stanley Cup Finals one day. Our mayor -- Michael Coleman -- is a pretty good guy, but he would be hard pressed to find anything worth wagering. Columbus is home to the world headquarters of White Castle, but I don't think anyone who wins a bet would actually want a crate of those things unless they also happened to be drunk and constipated at the time. We have strange pizza here as well, the likes of which I've never encountered elsewhere -- some people say it's like St. Louis pizza, but I'm dubious -- but quite frankly, it's nothing special.

Mr. Coleman, do the city a favor if that ever comes to pass: wager cash.


Mr. Thursday said...

The true Philly sandwich, if you ask me, is slow roasted pork on a crusty long roll served with melted dry provolone and sauteed broccoli rabe.

The soft pretzels are fine--they're made differently here than anywhere else, but part of the appeal is going to the soft pretzel factory at midnight (when it opens) and buying a couple dozen of the things for you and everyone you know.

Otherwise? We've got one of the better urban, hydroponic farms in the country (at least, the NY Times seemed to think so). They make their own honey, I'd offer some of that. Great beer city, so a six-pack of Victory/Sly Fox/Yards/PBC/etc would work. Probably a good idea to get something from the Italian Market in South Philly: personally, I really like just about everything DiBruno's and Claudio's, so I'd get something from either place.

We're also pretty famous for the William Penn statue on City Hall, I'd offer to stick a Devil Ray uniform on Billy P for a day or a week or something.

Pound cake from Stock's Bakery. Or Maybe Denise's.

It's not hard to do better than cheesesteaks in Philly.

bigcatasroma said...

Mr. Thursday,

Not bad, not bad, that Tony Luke's pork sandwich is my FAVORITE. I like the beer idea too, but please, just ship some Lager (that's Yuenling to the others), because we don't want Nutter to go TOO overboard.

And I have had one cheesesteak in 10 years, and that's because a friend was in from out of town. I don't go near the things . . .

DiBrunos is a good call.

You know, we could always go crab fries from Chickies, or, hey, you want to spice it up a bit, how about a an Italian from Sarcones? Those things are fantastic.

Levi Stahl said...

Does scrapple count? What about the Schmitter?

Jason @ IIATMS said...

Rather than food, I'd rather the Mayors gamble something better: Like the loser has to clean the streets after the World Series Parade. Talk about SHAME, baby.

That would really be worth the bet.

mooseinohio said...

@ Craig - All Coleman has to do is invite the other mayor over for breakfast at Nancy's in CLintonville, lunch at NorthStar in the ShortNorth, a gut busting Thurman burger in German Village for dinner and some ice cream from Jeni's in Grandview for dessert. Trust me - no mayor would ever want his team to win again against any Columbus team after that feast (and cholesterol level spike).

Craig Calcaterra said...

Moose: good points, but a couple of comments:

Nancy's: I used to love going there (I lived about a mile from it for years), but I have boycotted since 2002, when Nancy's put a sign outside promoting that they "now serve Freedom Fries!" I can find eggs without the stupidity elsewhere;

North Star: Now we're talking. Never have I felt so satisfied by a veggie burger in my life;

Thurman's: For those who don't know, Thurman Burgers are just smaller than those "eat it in an hour and everyone eats free" promotional things you see from time to time. Just gigantic, and you can even get them with blue cheese on top. I limit myself to one a year lest I drop dead of a heart attack.

Jeni's: very good stuff, and if the Devil came up from Hades and challenged humanity to an ice cream cookoff in exchange for our souls, I would want Jeni to be the one battling for us. That said, I'm a bit of a purist, so I'm more likely to go to Graeter's than Jeni's for an ice cream fix.

mooseinohio said...

Alright Craig - I'll substitute Starliner Diner in Hilliard for Nancy's - their breakfast burrito or french toast will more than satisfy you. If you haven't been yet you need to go soon, plus they also have a great dinner menu.

Sean McCulloch said...

The sad thing is, they'd probably just wager Ohio State tickets.. they'd assume the mayor of Toronto would be awed by the chance to see the Michigan game.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Now we're talking. Love me the big blue chip nachos plate.

Starliner = fabulousness.

mooseinohio said...

Craig - Apparently we are in sync on both out love of baseball and eating at great local establishments, plus I lived less than a 1/2 mile from Nancy's so we could add older neighborhoods and sense of community to the list.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Moose: I hope this isn't some Fight Club thing and that, in reality, you aren't just another side of my personality commenting from another account. That would be really awkward.

And no I didn't spoil the damn movie. If you haven't seen it by now, you weren't ever going to.

Drew said...

Philly does suck, but in Nutter's defense, that Macaroni and Cheese is relatively famous. Apparently Oprah Winfrey called it the best in the world, and she clearly knows a thing or two about eating.

And Mr Thursday is right about the roasted pork sandwich. Definitely a local favorite, and they're utterly delicious.

mooseinohio said...

Opposite in the sense that I have a full head of hair in my 40s - granted it is mainly gray but I still got it.

Chris said...

First of all, a truly perfect cheesesteak -- i.e., one from Dalessandro's with marinara sauce, provolone, and hot peppers -- is hands-down better than a few miserable crab claws and a toasted ham and cheese sandwich (a.k.a., a "Cuban"). A roast pork sandwich along the lines of the one described by Mr. Thursday -- especially if it's from Tommy Dinic's in Reading Terminal Market -- is even better, and, by itself puts the entire city of St. Petersburg to shame.

But when you throw in some Tastykakes and maybe a Frank's Black Cherry friends (as John McCain would say), it's no longer a fair fight.

(Sigh. Why did I move away from Philly?)

matt said...

Pretzel factory at midnight? Any true Philadelphian knows that the best pretzels are found on the side of the road. The unwashed hands really add to the taste.

Add some Chicky's and Pete's crab fries and some real water ice and Philly's contribution blown Tampa's out of the water.

All this talk about Philly food makes me really miss the city. (Although I finally found a bar that serves Victory out here in Pittsburgh. Nothing like drinking a Hop Devil while watching the Phillies in the World Series.)

Mr. Thursday said...

Drew - Suck? Heeeeyyyy....

If we're doing the gluttonous day of local eats, allow me to humbly suggest the Philly tour:

Breakfast at either Ida Mae's or Morning Glory. You're going to sit and eat Scrapple until you like it.

Lunch at Tommy DiNic's for the roast pork sandwich. If you'd like to eat outside, Tony Luke's is lovely, too. Or John's Roast Pork. There are a lot of good sandwich places in Philly.

If we're going to swank it up a little for dinner, we'll hit Osteria. Or the White Dog Cafe, which was green and local before green and local were cool.

Dessert at Capo Giro for gelato, or head out to Capri's in Wayne for water ice.

After all that, head out for a couple of drinks at The Grey Lodge or Memphis Taproom or about a million other places.

I don't really support the Schmitter all that much as a representative of the city. I mean, I like the sandwich, but it's just a cheesesteak on a kaiser roll with "special sauce", isn't it? Delicious, but kinda gimmicky (as all secret sauces are), and definitely not representative of Philadelphia.