So, my best friend was in town for my sister's wedding, and it just so happened that his birthday was the day after - I wanted to do something special for him. He is an even bigger eater than I am, so I decided on a surprise six-foot-hoagie party. I was inspired by a TV show I had recently seen where they were building one, and it looked delicious. So the hunt was on to find a bakery in South Philly where I could find such a monster. After couple of calls, it was settled that Cacia's on 15th and Ritner had the goods. They have become a local franchise and I have never been let down by their rolls and Italian loaves. For just $3 a foot and 2 days lead time, you are good to go.
We picked up the roll on Sunday, in all its seeded glory, and after some debate as to the correct transportation vessel, we put a bag over each end, and moved carefully. In terms of filling this beautifully constructed flour torpedo, I felt there was too much seeded glory to go with just one single theme - so I decided to go with three.
The first section was a classic Italian. We started with a smear of mayo on one side of the bread (I know THAT'S not classic, but its delicious). Then we gave the other side a drizzle of olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. After that it was time for some herbs, and then the meats. I added Genoa salami, hot capicola, sopressata, and pepperoni. I LOVE these salty, cured delicacies, and they all work SO WELL together. After the meat came a thick layer of prov, and then the veggies. We went with some shredded iceberg (it keeps WAY better than romaine), a sprinkle of finely sliced onion, some fresh sliced tomato, and banana peppers. I think these are the perfect accompaniments to the classic Italian. After that, it was another sprinkle of herbs and an additional drizzle of olive oil.
On to the middle section. Here is something my friend and I have always had a mutual love and respect for, pastrami - well more specifically, corned beef (because pastrami is just smoked and spiced corned beef). So, we went with a twist on an old NY deli sandwich, and made a Rachel hoagie. It started with Marie's thousand island dressing on both sides of the bread, then a layer of coleslaw (our local deli has the same recipe as KFC and it's great), and next we threw down a 50/50 blend of corned beef and pastrami, piled on thick. On top of that delicious meat mix, we laid a healthy dose of Swiss and another generous spread of slaw. It is probably quite obvious that this section of our mammoth sandwich was a winner, but this version far surpassed our expectations with its salty, smoky meat; the cool, creamy, crunchy slaw; the thousand island for the tang; and the sharp Swiss to tie it all together.
Last but not least, this third and final section was a sure-fire crowd pleaser. It started out with a healthy spread of Marie's chunky bleu cheese on the bread and a splash of buffalo sauce on top of the dressing. After that came the thin-sliced buffalo chicken from the deli. On top of that (gasp) more cheese! The cheese was white American (it really adds a smooth creaminess to the sandwich), and we finished with some lettuce, tomato, and a light application of vidalia onion. This all came together to create a deliciously creamy, spicy, crunchy slice of heaven.
The crunchy seeded roll was a perfect canvas for this culinary work of art. We finally wrapped the whole thing tightly in Saran wrap to let the flavors meld. The hardest part was beating people off while waiting for it to settle. It turned out unbelievably well, and it has only gotten better while sitting in the fridge. Look, football season is coming up, so find yourself a bakery that makes big rolls, and have yourself a hoagie party. You will NOT be disappointed!