Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Banh Mi

320 Main's Banh Mi.

Technically, Banh Mi isn’t a sandwich – it’s just bread.

Good luck convincing anyone of that in the US, where the French-style baguette from Vietnam has become synonymous with the sandwiches that are made with it. Indeed, drive through any neighborhood with a large Vietnamese population (such as Garden Grove, right up the 22 freeway from Seal Beach) and you’ll see plenty of shops advertising Banh Mi sandwiches. Usually these sandwiches are labeled as Banh Mi with whatever their filling may be. For example, you’ll see things like Banh Mi Thit – meaning a Banh Mi baguette filled with meat (pork belly being the most common).

As with so many sandwiches, there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to good Banh Mi. There’s a mix of cultures going on here, and so we find that French baguette a necessity – and little else. Typically you’ll find some other French influences like mayonnaise and maybe even pate paired with cilantro, peppers, and pickled vegetables. This fusion of East and West in sandwichular form (this is our blog and we’ll make up our words as we see fit) has been called “the world’s greatest sandwich” as well as “the world’s greatest street food.”

With so many accolades being thrown about, how can 320 Main not indulge in trying our own hand at the Banh Mi?
We take a French roll and fill it with kurobuta pork belly, cucumber, jalapeños, cilantro, and pickled carrots and onions. Add some Sriracha hot sauce and jalapeño aioli in the place of regular mayo to the mix and you’ve got a sandwich that packs a wallop of flavor. Paired with our Sriracha coleslaw (if you wanted some more spice) or our house French fries and a cool cocktail like our new Gimlet, this sandwich will definitely help you relax into summer .

Matt “RumDood” Robold is a bartender at 320 Main and, in his spare  runs, where he writes about rum, rum cocktails, and rum history.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Daiquiri #3

320 Main Daiquiri #3
The Daiquiri may be the most basic, most common, and most frequently abused cocktail in the world. Starting as a simple mix of rum, lime, and sugar, the drink these days is often thought of as something served out of alcoholic slush machines. In earlier times the simple Daiquiri was a drink that captured the imagination of bartenders and the American public. 

In Havana during American Prohibition, a man named Constantino Ribalaigua Vert was tending bar at La Florida. Constantino, better known as El Constante Grande or “The Big Constante” (way cooler than “The Big Lebowski”), built an empire around the beguiling Daiquiri. 

La Florida

In addition to making hand-shaken Daiquiris in numbers so great that he hired boys from all over the city to stand in long lines shaking the drinks almost non-stop, Constante began blending the Daiquiris and making multiple variations to appeal to the ever-growing throngs of Americans flooding his bar every night.

The Daiquiri #3 was one of the most popular versions to grace the menu. Starting with the normal recipe, Constante added Maraschino liqueur and fresh grapefruit juice to the standard lime juice, sugar, and rum. This was usually shaken but, just as often, blended and served in a goblet.

Daiquiri #3
2 oz White Rum
1 oz Lime Juice
.75 oz Simple Syrup
1 tsp Grapefruit Juice
1 tsp Maraschino
Shake with ice and a lime hull and strain over crushed ice. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and a lime wedge.

Ernest and Mary Hemingway at La Florida with Spencer Tracy.

This drink was popular not just among the regular barfolk, but also one of the favorite drinks of one of the most well-known writers of all time: Ernest Hemingway.

Legend tells us that one day the famed writer walked into La Florida while Constante was setting up for the evening service and asked if he could use the restroom. When he re-emerged, he asked if he could try one of the Daiquiris (believed to be the #3) already lining the bar.

Upon finishing the drink, Hemingway declared it delicious and became so taken with the drink in the blended variation that in the La Florida Bar Guides written by Constante there appears a drink with the same recipe as the Daiquiri #3 – but specifying that it should be blended – named the E. Hemingway Special.

At 320 Main, we may not have a blender, but we can still make you a Daiquiri #3 so good that you'll see why Papa Hemingway frequented La Florida enough to earn a bronze statue in the bar in his favorite spot.

Matt “RumDood” Robold is a bartender at 320 Main and, in his spare  runs, where he writes about rum, rum cocktails, and rum history.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Pato Cubano

The 320 Main Pato Cubano

The Cuban Sandwich is both well-known, and yet, still rather mysterious. These sandwiches, originally called mixtos in Cuba, made their way to Florida when travel between the US and Cuba was frequent and easy. It is believed that it was in Florida that the Cuban Mixtos made their transition to the standard Cuban Sandwich of today: pressed Cuban-style bread, ham, shredded pork, swiss cheese, mustard, and dill pickles.

Of course, this is a sandwich we’re talking about, so rules tend to be more like guidelines. According to the city of Tampa, FL, the Tampa Historical Cuban Sandwich is the original and official Cuban Sandwich (their City Council said so). It’s very close to the formula above with salami added for good measure. Ask anyone in the Cuban community in Miami if that’s a Cuban Sandwich and you might get a knuckle sandwich instead, followed by an explanation of the fact that salami has no place in the sandwich, and that the heathens in Tampa probably don’t even make their bread properly.

Seal Beach is a long way from Florida - and even farther from Cuba - but that doesn’t mean that we at 320 Main can’t steal a little inspiration from a sandwich that is so beloved to try to make it our own.

320 Main’s Pato Cubano (Cuban Duck) replaces the ham of the traditional Cuban Sandwich with smoked duck, matches that with braised pork, tangy dijon mustard, swiss cheese, dill pickles, and fresh tomatoes - all on a pressed Cuban roll. Have one with our house fries or Sriracha coleslaw and - to stay with the Cuban theme - wash the entire delectable affair down with a hand-shaken Daiquri #3.

Pairs well with: Daiquri #3

Matt “RumDood” Robold is a bartender at 320 Main and, in his spare time, runs, where he writes about rum, rum cocktails, and rum history.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Flaming Mai Tai

Flaming Mai Tai, 12"x16" oil on linen

Check out our friend Matt Talbert's newest piece Flaming Mai Tai. Talbert and Rumdood met up to experiment with Tiki garnishes and came up with this half lime shell with flaming Lemonhart 151 rum. It really takes the Mai Tai presentation to a whole other level. 

For me it instantly brings back memories of Hawaii, beautiful sunsets, and sand between my toes.