Pulled Pork? Pull The Other One!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sandwiches tend to be practical. Utilitarian. A concise report rather than a dulcet whisper. A pit-stop for fuel rather than a longed-for indulgence. The Other Penguin flat out refuses to buy them, on the basis that paying for something so mundane and so readily made at home is a highly objectionable concept. While I don't go quite that far, the number of sandwiches that are etched in my memory are few and far between.

Don't be deceived by its innocent appearance - this roll packs a porcine punch!

The Sticky Penguin Sandwich Hall of Fame comprises the following members (some of which, I'm almost certain, are all the more alluring for being hard to come by):

  • Coronation chicken from Albion Caff in Shoreditch. London's a long way for a sandwich, though (even one that good, and large enough to qualify as dinner).
  • Special chicken salad* with celery and mayonnaise on fluffy white bread, that used to be served in the murky peace and quiet of the cafe underneath David Jones, before it was very ill-advisedly removed to stuff in more cosmetics. Preferably accompanied with thin and crispily golden chips (that'd be the sandwich, not the make-up. Not so keen on fries with that when hunting down mascara or browsing the latest OPI shades). 
  • Ham and cheese baguette in the cafe at the Louvre. A combination of the appetite built up wandering corridors gazing at art, the happy surprise of finding exactly-what-I-felt-like-eating at a major tourist spot (let alone finding it well-executed) and the timeless simplicity of the food itself.  
  • Just about anything from EARL Canteen (with preference for the slow-cooked lamb or - so far, alas, only vicariously - the duck confit).
  • Sausage and tomato sauce sandwiches, made using cold left-over sausages. Long ago, a favourite lunch-box discovery (second only to leftover home-made lasagna**) and now a summertime pleasure after over-catering for barbecues, and Christmas treat when down the coast (the Trifle-Eating Cat's Parents have a ready supply of sausages, and aren't the slightest bit sparing in their use. Squee!)
  • And an honorary mention also goes to just about anything from the now-departed and much missed Moose General Store.
Having settled on that list (with one notable omission, which is of such significance as to warrant proper consideration separately), I will doubtless go pootling through the week beset by random thoughts of the Sandwiches I Loved And Forgot. Which tends to be the way when trying to come up with any sort of definitive list, from groceries to wedding guests.

This weekend, though, a new contender for the Best Ever Sandwich emerged. Like the cool new kid at school, it swaggered in and grabbed my attention, distracting me from faithful and familiar friends... 

Could you go past the pulled pork?

The prospect of a trip to the Pyrmont Growers Market was sufficiently enticing to prompt a rare early start on a Saturday morning. It was ages since I'd paid a visit, and I was keen to suss out what interesting discoveries might be made. The market was bigger, busier and much muddier than I remembered . Old favourites like the Australian Honey Sellers and Whisk & Pin had been joined by wontons, micro herbs and an array of condiments that bordered on boggling. 

I'd run out the door without breakfast in the hope that something tasty would present itself, and I wasn't disappointed. There were lengthy queues for coffee and at any stall with the wafting fragrance of bacon. There was also a stall offering a minimalist menu of pulled pork rolls and porridge. It smelt fabulous. It looked delicious. I got in during a rare lull in the crowd. Much as the porridge, on offer with rhubarb and almonds, sounded entirely satisfying, there was no going past the pork. And there it was... a sandwich revelation...

The pulled pork (made with Berkshire free range pork) was matched with vividly pink beetroot coleslaw, squirted with a tangy barbecue sauce that bore as much resemblance to the usual sugary gloop as a duck does to a flamingo. The roll was soft and tender, filling but still light, and the perfect size and shape to pick up. The proportions of pork, slaw, sauce and bun were the edible equivalent of the golden ratio. Heaven, without need of a stick. I perched on a sandstone wall and blissfully munched until all that remained was a warm, comfortable not-too-fullness and a fuchsia smear on the plate. The astonishing sandwich came from The Table Sessions, which also does guerrilla dining events in Sydney, something which I'm now going to need to investigate very thoroughly.

Once more, for those who missed it! Complete with dodgy camera phone photos... 

Have you had a sandwich that elevates the lunch--on-the-run staple to something special? I'd love to hear about it, and where you found it. I suspect the next stop on the trail to find culinary nirvana might need to involve a Reuben...

* For those to whom "special chicken" denotes a source of protein originating from almost any bird, beast, fish or creature other than an actual chicken, I believe the description of "special" is properly applied in this instance to the chicken as turned into a salad, or perhaps to the sandwich in its entirety.
** The range of foods which a Sticky Penguin will cheerfully tuck into with relish (not literally - I've never been one for pickles and suchlike) at cold-to-room-temperature is an occasional source of mystification to others. Perhaps it's because microwaves are relatively rare in the Antarctic. But then again, so's home-made lasagna...

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