Can you get a proper medianoche sandwich in Orange County? Orange County, Florida, certainly. Here in our Orange Acres? Not so many places make this specialty.
You know where you can easily find one? Quiznos. No, really, stop laughing. In this edition, we pit the Quiznos Cuban sandwich against the one at DeSimone's Deli & Bakery in Orange.
First, DeSimone's Cuban sandwich. It has the classic ingredients: slices of lechon, or roast pork; ham; Swiss cheese; a smear of mustard; and sweet pickle sparely laid upon a roll. It's smeared with butter and pressed, like a panino, between two hot griddle-plates until the cheese is melted, the flavors of the sandwich meld, and the works squash like someone sat on it.
How's it taste? Just fine. The house-baked Italian roll takes on an even crisper texture from the griddling, but it lacks the slightly sweet profile of the Cuban rolls one finds in the specialty sandwich shops of Tampa. That specific bread and its lack of availability here is the one niggling flaw of an otherwise-solid medianoche made in our fair county. We wish there were a bigger Cuban-American community that would support a specialty Cuban restaurant instead of a Cuban + Italian + "Continental" or whatever hybrid that's apparently needed to survive here.
Next up: the Quiznos Pork Cuban. Its ingredients? Pulled pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, yellow mustard and mayo: the wrong protein, the wrong pickles and too much goo. The bread? Same choice of Quiznos breads, run through the toaster, just like every sandwich made there.
Quiznos' pulled pork consists of nasty gray shreds of pork flooded in so much salty, commercial meat broth extract that the texture reminded me of a toddler's saturated diaper after squatting in a cheap, plastic backyard wading pool.
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What also doesn't belong on a medianoche? Mayo. My Quiznos sandwich had so much mayo and yellow mustard that nasty goo oozed out the sides with every bite. It's supposed to be a sandwich you can eat on the go, steering the car with your knee while you're on the phone with your bookie. How you gonna pay attention to the road with all that nasty goo dripping on your shirt?
You knew the winner of this faceoff long before you got to the line about the diaper, didn't you? Sweet Jesus, the things we eat for Stick a Fork In It so you don't have to. The clear winner: De Simone's.
DeSimone's Deli & Bakery, 6850 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 847-0922; 2279 N. Tustin St., Orange, (714) 637-7000; desimonedeli.com.