Serious Eats Road Trip: A Providence Sandwich Jaunt

Thanks to Buick LaCrosse for underwiting the Serious Eats Road Trip and for loaning us a Buick LaCrosse. We drove from New York City to Boston and back, checking out some of the great food experiences along the way.buicklacrosse16.png

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Grilled cheese from Farmstead. [Photos: Ed Levine]

Here's an equation I bet you've never seen in a math class:

Buick LaCrosse + Providence at lunchtime = Serious Sandwiches.

Let me explain. Alaina and I cruised out of Boston at around 11:30. Our plan: head to Providence for a mini sandwich tour. (That'd be a limited tour of Providence sandwiches—not a tour of Providence mini-sandwiches.) I've been hearing a lot about the sandwiches made and sold at the the food store-cum-cheese shop Farmstead, by husband and wife chef team Matt and Kate Jennings (owners of the highly regarded bistro La Laiterie).

I figured that we would take our sandwiches and eat them in our roomy LaCrosse as we made our way to our second Providence sandwich shop, Hewtin's Mobile Hot Dog Truck, owned by another Providence based husband and wife team—Matthew and Kristin Gennuso of Chez Pascal. What better time to visit a food truck in New England than on a sunny day in mid-March, with wheels at your disposal? And since we'd left Carey behind in Boston, we rendezvoused with one of our terrific Serious Eats interns, Brown student Leah Douglas.

Sounds like a pretty cool itinerary, doesn't it?

Farmstead

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When we arrived at Farmstead, it turned out there was seating available at La Laiterie, so we were able to enjoy a leisurely lunch utilizing real tables and chairs. As is our wont, we ordered just about every sandwich on the menu. The highlights?

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A fine pulled pork sandwich with peppadew pepper relish and aged provolone was not exactly a North Carolina classic, but mighty tasty nonetheless.

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The cheesemonger's grilled cheese was in fact made in a sandwich press rather than grilled. I don't even know what cheeses were in it, but there was definitely something cheddar-y in there because the sandwich had that primordial cheddar ooze. Add in a helpful (if a little disorganized) staff that was eager to please and you end up with a fine lunch first course.

Hewtin's Mobile Hot Dog Truck

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Because we had wheels and we had motive, we drove a mere five minutes and ended up at the Hewlin's truck. Everyone had told me about the hot dogs and the sausages, which are the truck's promotional focal point—but in fact, it was three non-tube steak sandwiches that stole the show.

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The bacon-wrapped pork meatloaf sandwich ($7) had a spicy fig compote and coleslaw piled right on, elements both made in-house. Meatloaf sandwiches are a trend I heartily approve of.

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The Zephry Farm Sunnyside Egg sandwich ($7) had a perfectly runny egg atop a pile of Blackbird Farm brisket hash, with cheese sauce and pepper relish. Does brisket hash belong in a breakfast sandwich? After this sandwich I'm inclined to say yes—this sucker was mighty tasty.

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And a killer Pork Belly Sandwich ($7), with arugula, apple compote, and "Hannahbells Cheese" from the Shy Brothers Farm in Westport, Mass. The pork belly's crunchy exterior gave way to a good half-inch of creamy pork fat deliciousness.

We got back on the road—seriously sated from our Providence sandwich mini-fest—and with the XM radio blasting, off we went.

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