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Sandwiches, Then and Now

I am prone to food nostalgia. I tend to romanticize great meals of the past—and remember them in painstaking detail (Sara Deseran and I share this odd skill), and then wonder when I’ll get back to taste, say, the great cheeses at Benoit in Paris again, or a loaf of my mother’s Christmas stolen. There’s a particular sandwich that falls into this class—the Cuban sandwich at Chez Henri in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It has the perfect bread, the perfect ham and roast pork, the perfect pickles and the right ratio of filling to roll. It is an extraordinary sandwich, and it is also very far away. So today, when our office ordered lunch from a new Cuban joint around the corner, Paladar, I crossed my fingers and chose the Cuban. And it was pretty good. But not a transcendent experience. Not a Chez Henri experience.

But about 30 minutes after bringing the order back to the office, I wandered up to the Art Department and caught our designer, Nicholas, about 3 bites from finishing his sandwich, called the choripan—a split baguette filled with chorizo, grilled onions and peppers and chipotle aioli. I made him give me a bite (although he said he didn’t want to, since he loved it so much and it was nearly gone). This is the sandwich to get at Paladar—meaty, with the smoky, spicy aioli and a tangle of peppers and onions. Chez Henri’s status remains intact, and I’ve found a new great sandwich, a lot closer to home.

Paladar, 329 Kearny St. between Bush and Pine, 415-398-4899