My first Paseo sandwich was delivered by Dan one night after work; we had been dating for a couple of months. It happened after a few conversations about how much I needed to try this pork sandwich, and I remember his outrage that I had never even heard of the place.
The place? A Cuban sandwich shop. Two locations, one in Fremont and one in Ballard. You can read all about it here.
Like most of the other 900 people who reviewed Paseo on Yelp, I was hooked at first bite. Using the usual descriptors –succulent, juicy, flavorful — doesn’t seem to do it justice. Just look at that messy sandwich. I was beyond bummed when I ate the last fat slice or caramelized onion. (They now make a sandwich with no meat, just onion. I wonder how many people order them as chasers.)
Paseo is one of those postage-stamp places where the kitchen has more square footage than the dining area. Cash only, people. All summer there is a line going out the door, even down the street and around the corner on weekends. You can, and should, call your order in ahead of time and bypass this line, but here’s another problem: Paseo runs out of bread, and usually by the time we’re off work. When this happens, you can have the same meat with beans and rice, and it has to be delicious, but that’s not why we go to Paseo.
So. We love Paseo, but they run out of bread and we want to eat at home more often anyway, but turning on the oven in August can mean heating ourselves out of our apartment. Even when it only hits 75 (Did I mention we live in Seattle, land of no AC?). So our little restaurant for two has turned into a sandwich shop this summer.
When I was a kid, a sandwich was something you ate for lunch because it was A. portable B. cheap, and C. fast. And sometimes, if my grandma Bev took me to Bob’s Big Boy, it was D. a way for me to get more bacon into my diet via my Precious, my BLT.
But a sandwich can also be the perfect meal — a combination of textures; a balance of tastes; with all the major food groups represented in a hand-held package.
The sandwich to your left, something my husband created after work one night, has the caramelized onion of a Cuban sandwich with the pickled carrot of a Bahn Mi, and the cilantro of both. The chicken was stir-fried with Thai red curry paste. (I remember Dan telling me early on how much he hated the over-used and abused term “fusion cuisine.” Turns out he’s pretty good at it.)
We made this one last weekend. Grilled steak (marinated in olive oil and lemon juice, ancho chile powder, garlic, and oregano), blue cheese, caramelized red onion, tomato, arugula, and homemade horseradish mayo.
You don’t need a recipe for a sandwich, right? But here is the standby recipe for mayonnaise. Homemade mayo is the tops! At the end you can stir in a healthy dose of horseradish, or sambal, or minced garlic, or leave it as is — it blows Best Foods out of the water. If you don’t have a food processor, here is an excellent explanation of how to make mayo by hand.
Mayonnaise, adapted from Child, Bertholle, and Beck’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Makes 1 3/4 C
2 large egg yolks
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 C oil, (I like half olive and half canola)
3 T lemon juice or vinegar
salt to taste
Put the yolks in the food processor and blend for a minute. Then, keeping the machine running the whole time, add the oil as slowly as possible: drop by drop. If the oil is not added slowly enough in the beginning, then the mixture will not emulsify — it will separate into an oily, gloopy mess. Once you’ve added half the oil and the mixture has thickened, you can start adding the oil in bigger glugs (about 1 tablespoon at a time).
As the mixture becomes very thick, you can thin it out with some of the lemon juice or vinegar, then continue with the oil.
Once all of the oil is added, stir in the rest of the lemon juice or vinegar. Season with salt. This is best used within 3 or 4 days.
Addendum: Yes, I posted a mayonnaise recipe at the same time as the colossal salmonella outbreak involving eggs. I also eat oysters in July. But my sanitation teacher would have wanted me to add a warning about consuming raw or undercooked food. It can make you sick, and is especially dangerous for old people, sick people, or kids.
When we first discussed the reasons to marry (while still tap dancing around the ”M” word) exhibit A was our mutual love of cooking. But as usual, the word “love” is not descriptive enough. We are charmed, intrigued, and comforted by food. Enamoured with it. Maybe a wee bit obsessed. We email, trading sample menus for the night, possible spice combinations, and questions like, “braised or grilled?” and “Should we caramelize the onions?” (Yes — always yes!)
So now, married for one month, we continue to plan, and prep, and cook, and eat. I am starting this blog to serve as a record of our meals and lives together, what works and what doesn’t, and to give my Facebook friends a break from the ridiculous number of food pictures I publish.
We’ll see what this turns into.