New SFoodie Editor Out to Lunch
Hi. I'm the new SFoodie editor.
I should probably use this post to introduce myself, but Jonathan Kauffman, who has the desk next to mine in this spacious office overlooking Alcatraz, already did that. Or maybe I should use this post to deliver my food manifesto. But I put the manifesto down while I was having an empanada at Fisherman's Wharf, and the next thing I knew, a homeless guy was running away with it. It'll probably be for sale soon on Craigslist under "Food Manifesto, never used."
Sigh. Tough new job, this one, trying to sort out for you which dumplings are worth driving across town for. And it doesn't pay as well as, say, being San Francisco Chronicle publisher. But at least I'll eat better.
The day before I started this job, I found myself at the lunchtime Off the Grid food-truck gathering on the road that bisects my former employer, the Chronicle, every other Wednesday.
There were long lines at some trucks, especially Senor Sisig. Liba Falafel was boasting of its appearance the next night on a TV network I don't get, the Cooking Channel. Nobody was queued up at Chairman Bao, which put me off. The line in front of Ebbett's Good to Go, a truck that asked me to "Admit it, you need a sandwich," was just the right length: enough people to indicate interest, not so many that my hunger wouldn't be abated soon. And they were right about my needs.
Suzanne Schafer, working in the truck, told me its Cuban sandwich is Chronicle publisher Frank Vega's favorite. "Those three up there are for him," she said, gesturing at some foil-wrapped sandwiches above the grill. I ignored my instinct: Though I saw dozens of already made, wrapped sandwiches and no fresh food preparation, I said, "I'll have what Frank's having."
Ebbett's version of a Cuban ($8.50) has the traditional slow-roasted pulled pork and Black Forest ham with gruyere, along with its own additions of chipotle mayo and jalapeno relish. Cuban bread being nearly impossible to find locally, it's on an Acme roll.
I was really hungry after running earlier, but I couldn't finish it. The spiciness overwhelmed all the other flavors; No, your honor, I cannot say with certainty that there was cheese on that sandwich. And the texture was that of leftovers. The crunch was long gone from the roll, making it a chewing exercise; the roast pork was dry. Ebbett's gave it heat, but it needed life.
While I was deciding that rather than finish it, I was going to go home and reheat some leftover pizza from Little Star, two guys sat down next to me with just-sliced sandwiches bursting with moist meatloaf and bright greens. "Where are those from?" I asked. "Chairman Bao," they said. So much for my food instincts.
The next time that I decide to eat under the Chronicle, I guess I better have what Michael Bauer's having.