Munch goes to Crested Duck Charcuterie
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There is probably no food in the world that is more universally loved and more likely to bring world peace than the sandwich. OK, probably beer, but sandwiches are a close second.
In travels, Munch has encountered the tiny pintxo in Spain, the ginormous torta in Mexico, the dainty sandwich de miga in Argentina and el lomito, slathered with avocado, in Chile. The Vietnamese have the glorious banh mi. Even our enemies to the east have that monstrosity called the Philly Cheese-steak, liberally slathered with industrial goo that barely qualifies as food. Dad of Munch is fond of peanut butter and bananas; Mom of Munch of tuna fish and wiry sprouts. And yet, they have found peace, between two slices of bread, and under one roof.
According to legend, and Wikipedia, the sandwich was invented by John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, who was looking for a portable meal while he studiously worked. Or gambled. Depending on who you ask. Then the Primanti Bros. one-upped old Earl and stacked theirs with french fries and coleslaw for busy truck drivers in the Strip District.
Crested Duck Charcuterie has been selling its cured meats and other animal-derived products that Munch found unpronounceable yet delicious at a farmer's market in the Strip District. Then, at the beginning of this year, proprietor and meat master Kevin Costa opened up a shop in Beechview and started selling its wares pressed between baguettes.
Munch has crossed oceans for sandwiches. So crossing a river, to get to Beechview, didn't seem like too tall an order, until Crappy Navigator Friends of Munch sent us the wrong way and into traffic on the Fort Duquesne Bridge.
It ended up all being worth it. After a few hairpin turns and some frightening steep hillsides in the company car with dubious transmission, we found ourselves in Beechview's business district. There, we were greeted with a pleasantly cool, austerely decorated dining room. The chalkboard menu presented a dizzying array of delicious options.
True, Munch is not one to put on airs, and Munch's French is pretty much limited to the standard Pittsburgh hockey lexicon: Lemieux, Dupuis, Fleury. But the pate du jour (on that day, rabbit), which came with spring greens on a baguette, rang up at $6.50. We ordered one to share.
The pate was milder than most, specked with pistachios and tarragon, a perfect introduction to liver for the faint of heart.
Munch got the bresaola with fried egg ($6.50), a sturdy baguette topped with a hearty portion of thinly sliced aged beef (bresaola), fried egg, greens and a thick-sliced tomato. The salty cured meat combined with the creamy egg yolk and sweet tomatoes proved a heavenly combination.
"Is iv ra est amich errerr!" Munch proclaimed with mouth full.
And since great minds think alike (and also defy Munch's specific instructions to NOT order the same thing), Borderline Hipster Friend of Munch and Voracious Eater Friend of Munch went for the combination special ($6.75). Both ordered a half sandwich -- they picked the prosciutto and cheddar -- and the soup du jour. BHFOM coolly described the sandwich as "really good." VEFOM, after detailing her maniacal marathon training plan ("I'm running the circumference of planet Earth this week") hungrily devoured hers as well, pausing once briefly to ask, "Oh sorry, did you want a bite?"
The accompanying split pea soup was not the kind you're probably used to. Instead of an indistinguishable mush, some of the peas were left a little crunchy, swimming in a meaty broth. The best part were the generous chunks of ham, braised tender.
"This is not a place for vegetarians," remarked BHFOM. "Even the pea soup was about 50 percent ham, which in my opinion is just about the right quotient for any meal."
As for service, this is not your $5 footlong Subway sandwich operation. Good sandwiches take time and we waited for about 15 minutes for ours. Then we were left abandoned in the small dining room and had to search for the cashier, who had disappeared into another part of the building (maybe to wrestle a steer or chase down rabbits or break down a side of cow), to pay our bill.
This was all fine, though, because it left us a little time to linger over our meals and contemplate world peace. Or at least peas.
First Published April 26, 2012 12:00 am