March 26, 2014
It's still the best sandwich in the city, this crisp skinny ficelle slicked with butter, sharpened with mustard oil, stuffed with sea urchin and lightly pressed. Each bite crackles before devolving into rich softness. The flavors are sweet, hot and round. I could eat a dozen.
But I don't, because there's so much else to love when you're sitting in the cozy new dining room hidden in the back of El Quinto Pino. This, for instance:
a "bikini" of huitlacoche: pungent black corn fungus, folded into light, crisp little triangles of dough with warm mozzarella and peppers. A luxurious sandwich that tastes like nothing else I've experienced. Think earthy truffles, stretchy cheese, a hint of sharpness in the peppers. Then don't think at all, just enjoy the sensation.
There's this too:
a little platter containing fat chunks of chorizo, cubes of manchego cheese marinated in zaatar, and the piece de resistance, a "spreadable Menorcan sausage" (it's topped with thick honey but people like me can simply munch around it). That sausage is dangerous stuff: pliant and spicy, it has a tingle that lingers on your tongue. I couldn't stop eating it.
And then there's this:
squid smothered in its own deeply intense ink so that it stains your lips, your tongue, your fingers as you dig your fork in again and again. It transforms squid, a normally uncomplicated creature, into something dark, mysterious and utterly seductive.
Dessert? I'd end it here. But for those who need a final bite of sweetness, there's this version of cheesecake:
Lovely texture. But what I like best is that passionfruit sauce on the top.
And there's still so much more to try: if you want to taste fideua, which David Tanis talks about in today's New York Times, this is the place to do it. The Cuban sandwich. Those potatoes with aioli. And of course, El Quinto Pino's spectacular hamburger, El Doble.
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