Monday, September 7, 2009

Anybody Like Pork Chops? How 'Bout a Ham Sandwich?

If you were around in 1991 and listening to hip-hop you surely can’t forget the nasally voice of B Real asking you some very fundamental questions about your affection for ham sandwiches and pork chops. “Do you like them?” he asks. And then he inquires, “Do you want them?”

“Yes,” I always thought, “Yes I do. Boo-ya.”

In fact those are two of my favorite things in the world. Another of my favorite things in the world is baseball. Therefore I can say that three of my favorite things in the world are pork, ham and baseball. Sound all-American? Well, yes, I suppose it does, but I can think of a country that loves all three more than Americans do: Cuba. And when I go to the ballpark it’s all about the Cuban sandwich (not to be confused with the horrendous yet delicious torta Cubana that I wrote about recently and that would leave me comatose and unable to enjoy the first three or four innings).

Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, Aramark-run Coors field concessions has yet to include the Cuban on its menu (though it would sell like crazy). Instead, when I head down to Coors Field, I take advantage of the very liberal policies allowing fans to bring in pretty much whatever food they like (although once they frowned on the large pizza box I carried through the turnstile, but did let me through after some negotiating). And with the abundance of restaurants around Coors Field there are plenty of options. My favorite is to order up a Cuban sandwich from Buenos Aires Pizzeria and pick it up before I head in to the game.

Buenos Aires Pizzeria has much more than pizza. In fact, I don’t care too much for their pizza (though I do admit I like hard-boiled egg on my pizza and I can say that I first tried it there). When I go to Buenos Aires Pizzeria I want some of their baked empanadas or grilled and pressed sandwiches.


Ham and pork, so happy together
So the other night we were headed to the Rockies game and placed the call: an assortment of empanadas for my wife and a Cuban sandwich for me. All the sandwiches I’ve had at Buenos Aires have been great and come hot off the plancha (think Panini grill, or George Foreman grill, for the cultured folk among us). The empanadas are good too, and come steaming, fresh from the oven. They are best served with the fabulous house chimichurri sauce (apparently now, only if you ask), which is a traditional Argentine sauce that varies but has a base of parsley, olive oil and garlic. My favorite empanada was the salmon and is no longer on the menu, but the chorizo, spicy beef, corn, mushroom—well pretty much all of them—are good as well. (You can also get them frozen, pick up some chimichurri sauce, bake them at home, act like you made them and impress that special someone. But then when she asks you to tango…damn)

Empanadas
But let’s get back to the Cuban. The Cuban is very simple and made of deli-style ham, roasted pork, melted Swiss cheese, thin-sliced pickles and yellow mustard on a French-style bread all pressed down in the plancha. It is a delicious creation, and though I admit I’m not an expert on the Cuban, I am an expert on eating pork sandwiches, and the one at Buenos Aires rivals those from any Cuban joint I’ve been to.

I’m actually not sure why Buenos Aires has Cuban sandwiches on their menu. I’ve never been to Argentina and I suppose it could be a popular sandwich there. Possibly it is a tribute to Che Guevara, who was originally from  Argentina. Or maybe the owner just loves pork sandwiches like me. All this could be easily cleared up I think by simply asking the Argentine owner who is often roaming the place, and is very nice and approachable, but for now I’ll continue to speculate. Either way it doesn’t matter and the point is that I love Cuban sandwiches, and at Buenos Aires I can get one, walk a block and then watch a baseball game while eating it. If that isn’t as Cuban as America gets, I don’t know what is. Boo-ya!

Visit Buenos Aires Pizzeria on 22nd near Larimer, tell them you read about their Cuban on Denver on a Spit, and they'll say, "What the hell is Denver on a Spit?"      
Buenos Aires Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

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