Monday, May 2, 2011

Seattle's Salumi Sandwiches

Seattle keeps rocking my world with its amazing sandwiches. On my last trip I tried two mind-blowing sandwiches - a blackened salmon sandwich at the Market Grill and a Post Alley Favourite at the Pear Deli.

This week I drove a colleague to the Sea Tac airport. We left at 7am to try and beat traffic/border lines so it was early, the weather was kind of crappy, but the day started to shape up nicely shortly after we crossed the border and he said, "You know, I don't need to be at the airport until around 1pm...I know you are a foodie. Have you heard of Salumi?"

The evening before, I'd done some research on possible lunch destinations around Seattle, and Salumi - a small storefront deli owned and operated by Mario Batali's family, who make and sell salami, cured meats, sandwiches and weekly specials of soups and pastas - was at the top of my list. I've never been able to hit it since I've only ever been to Seattle on weekends (it's open Tuesday-Friday 11am-4pm). As a sandwich enthusiast, I was eager to try their famous Porchetta sandwich and their in-house cured meat and salamis.

We drove around Pioneer Square trying to find it and finally saw the signature Salumi pig sign and a tell-tale lineup starting to snake out the front doors and around the corner. There are very few times I get excited to see a lineup, but when it's 11:30am and there's already a queue for know it's gotta be good!

The lineup in this narrow deli/restaurant was long, but moved quickly thanks to four highly efficient sandwich gurus behind the counter. These ladies were MACHINES...pleasantly barking out sandwich orders and working as a team, slicing, scooping, topping, wrapping. They were quick. I also didn't mind the lineup because it gave me plenty of time to drool over the menu and watch the assembly process for a variety of sandwiches (mmm...meatball and prosciutto-wrapped chicken breast). They do have vegetarian options, but hot damn, this place is really all about MEAT!

This was Tim's second visit and he was dead set on getting a Porchetta. I'd also heard that this was the best sandwich they make, so I convinced him to split it with me and order one of their other sandwiches to get a bit of a variety.

Tim was kind enough to order and pick up the tab for the two sandwiches, and since the three medium-sized tables in the very back for communal sandwich scarfing were full, we headed outside, found a bus stop area with make-shift stools/seating and began scarfing our sandwiches.

The Porcetta

"Salumi's tribute to the pig. Pork butter-flied and stuffed with our own sausage meat and spices ($9)."

This sandwich is stuffed with nice, big chunks of hearty porchetta (boneless pork roast). It's tender, juicy, yet fairly lean (no greasy, fatty film whatsoever!). The meat is slow cooked to drool-worthy perfection, fully absorbing the wonderful flavours of the the ingredients it's cooked with (onions, carrots, garlic, whole fennel seeds, green pepper).

The best bites of this epic sandwich experience were the sections of the sandwich when the juices from the meat had fully soaked the bread, so it was almost fully infused with slow-roasted pork juice, but amazingly the structure of the sandwich remained stable thanks to the thick crusty baguette. I couldn't taste any condiments on this sandwich and it really didn't need any. This is a big statement for me because I'm obsessed with mustard, spreads, salsas and hot sauces.

The Coppa

"Delicious, marbled pork shoulder cured in sugar and salt and then spiced with cayenne and chili peppers." ($8.75, with cheese add $1.50).

Our other sandwich was one of their cold sandwich offerings that was highlighted on the feature board. This sandwich was awesome, but very different from the porchetta. It was a bit more complex, with ingredients that worked with one another to tie all of the flavours and textures together.

The meat was generous, thinly sliced and really delicious: buttery, savoury, salty, flavourful and slightly spicy. I was expecting spicier, but the subtle flavour worked well, especially with all of the other ingredients. There were slightly cooked onions that added a slight crunch and subtle flavour kick and sliced roasted green peppers that also provided some subtle heat. Also in the mix were finely chopped herbs (parsley and cilantro?) that added a burst of fresh flavour. Tim chose to add provolone, and it was a fantastic choice: soft, gooey and it almost glued the ingredients together. The bread on this was a squishy flour-dusted ciabatta/portugese bun hybrid that worked well with this thinner, multi-layered sandwich.

All-in-all another amazingly awesome Seattle sandwich experience!

Salumi on Urbanspoon

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