Elizabeth and I took the train down to Manhattan so that she could meet some of her old co-workers for lunch. We parked at the train station in a space numbered 624, then went inside to pay.
"Will you remember our space number?" she asked me.
"Of course," I said, "I'll just think of Kobe's MVP-caliber performance in Game 7."
(For those of you who aren't basketball fans, Kobe Bryant shot six-for-twenty four in Game 7 against the Celtics, a godawful performance that inexplicably still led to him being named MVP of the series.)
We got to Manhattan 90 minutes before Elizabeth's lunch, so we walked around for a while. "That's where I'm meeting them for lunch," she said. "I'm surprised you didn't want to join." For a second I thought I'd made a serious error in judgment. But she was just kidding.
We actually went into this place. Ugh.
See what I mean?
Although I was more than welcome to attend the lunch, I decided to go off on my own for a couple hours instead. A week or so before we left for New York, I'd read an online article titled " The 101 Best Sandwiches in New York." The pulled pork sandwich from a place called Dickson's Farmstand Meats looked gorgeous, the kind of fresh meat and vinegar sauce sandwich that I love. Chelsea is the only neighborhood in Manhattan to which I had never been, so I decided to hop on the subway (it's always fun to be reminded that there are cities where you don't have to sit in traffic on a freeway to get places) and head to Chelsea.
Chelsea Market is a food court and small shopping mall on the ground floor of a building that houses many businesses, including two of my favorite things: Food Network and MLB.com. I walked around for a bit before eating; although I had planned to get that pulled pork sandwich, there were a lot of food options. The Lobster Place - a seafood store I have seen many times on Food Network - is there and I considered getting a lobster roll. The most crowded place was called Hale and Hearty Soups, and their menu of sandwiches and soups looked great.
But rarely can I pass up pulled pork, and when I read a bit about Dickson's - their meat is all sourced from local farms - I knew that's what I wanted. Curiously, it was the least crowded of all the eating establishments in the market. Not that I mind waiting in a short line, but this surprised me. (As it turns out, I just got lucky; about a half hour later it was one of the three most crowded places, with a line out the door.)
Their selection of meats was smaller than I expected, but what they had looked fantastic. I ordered my pulled pork sandwich, paid for it, and walked over to a counter where a woman assembled it for me. She asked if I wanted slaw and sauce on the sandwich, I said yes to the former and asked what kind of sauce they use. When I was told it's a vinegar sauce, I said absolutely.
I took the sandwich out into the hall, found a low wall to sit on, and opened the box with as much anticipation as I have had for a sandwich in a long time. It was hard to hold the thing in both hands but I managed to get a grip on it, lean over the box - I had a hunch this one was gonna get messy - and take a bite.
Oh man, was it good. The pork was the perfect balance between tender and firm. There was zero fat on it. It is very rare these days that I have a pulled pork sandwich that has been trimmed of all fat, but this one was. The slaw was crunchy and a touch spicy, and the sauce, of which there was a lot, was everything I want in a sauce complementing pork. It was tangy, with just the slightest bit of sweetness. I could drink this sauce and indeed it took quite a bit of restraint not to tilt the box to my mouth and slurp all the sauce and stray bits of slaw.
The only downside to the sandwich - and this is really a stretch calling it a "downside" - is that it was so filling, I did not have room for anything else from Dickson's. And their Sloppy Joe looked awesome. Then I had an idea: it was only 1:15, and I wasn't meeting up with Elizabeth until 3. Why not walk a few miles along the Hudson River and through Chelsea to work up an appetite? Exercise burns calories, right? I'm certain I've read that before. So I went off on a long walk, thinking about what my next sandwich would be. Of course, that was the plan. The reality was that after an hour I walked by a pizza joint that smelled fantastic and I couldn't resist.
But more on that tomorrow.