The Cubano at Coppelia

I thought Chef was a rather mediocre movie. What did you think? The kid/social media stuff was dumb, and I found the plot too predictable. And what was the point of the Scarlett Johansson character? All of the food footage was enjoyable, though, and I’m glad Roy Choi’s involvement wasn’t totally wasted.  It definitely left me with the feeling that there are not enough Cuban sandwiches in my life.

I’ve only ever tried a few, including the one at the overloved Cafe Habana in Nolita, but there’s not much to screw up when it comes to double pork (roast and cured), cheese, mustard, and pickles, pressed. I have no issue on the variance of pig used, but not enough pickles or mustard is a shame. More of both always, please. Bread that is too thick can also be problematic, although the interweb tells me that a long, thicker roll is traditional.

It’s funny that such a flavourful sandwich comes from Cuba. As a Canadian from a cold climate, I knew many people who would spend a week in Cuba during the winter. You could often get a better deal to Cuba than Mexico. But time after time, I heard that the food wasn’t very good in Cuba, regardless of if you were at a resort or exploring Havana. Bland is the word I heard most often. Bland is not a word I would use to describe a Cubano.

Coppelia is a “Latin diner” right on 14 St (next to The Donut Pub) that has a wide range of Latin American culinary delights in the guise of a traditional diner. There’s a charm to it, and the diner atmosphere makes it immediately comfortable. Having first tried to satisfy my post-Chef Cubano craving with a mediocre version during a work lunch (seriously under-pickled), I was a bit more desperate for a fix. Thus, I overlooked the addition of a spicy aioli, the use of thinner bread, and a smaller size. The menu doesn’t mention aioli, but the oozy dark orange sauce was unlike any mustard I’ve tasted if that is what it was. Regardless, I liked it even if it got on my fingers. (I generally am averse to dirty finger food.) The thinner bread and smaller size made it handle and look like a more refined pressed sandwich. Lady-like… a Cubana. I’m more inclined to go back to try their tres leches, but I’d have this sandwich again, adding a side of yucca fries. I could practice my Spanish. Yoooo-ca.

Oh, and speaking of, because of my lessons, I now know that El Jefe means The Boss. That’s worth $600+ in lessons, no?

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