#31: Muffaletta, Fort Defiance

45 down. 56 to go.

The world has a funny way of balancing itself out. Sometimes, people suck. It’s true. I realized this when I woke up one beautiful morning and found that my bike seat was stolen. It even had a chain lock on it. I understand stealing a whole bike, but a bike seat? Come on. I know very little about the cost of a bike seat or the cost of crack, but I imagine some crackhead would have to steal many, many bike seats before he would have enough money to buy some crack. It just doesn’t seem worth it from a risk-rewards standpoint.

Though frustrated, I put the past behind me and seized the day. I picked up a new seat at the bike store, biked out to Red Hook, and before long was sitting across from my good friend, John Cyr, sipping on an amazing Bloody Mary and waiting for sandwich #45 to come my way.

I’ve only been to New Orleans once on a cross country trip with my brother Russ. I remember very little from the weekend. I know it rained a lot and we saw Finding Nemo. Also our dad told us to try a Hurricane — we had many. I don’t specifically recall what food we ate or anyone recommending a classic New Orleans sandwich called Muffaletta. I’m sorry they didn’t because nine years later, I just had one and it was awesome.

The Muffaletta sandwich at Fort Defiance is the behemoth of all cured meat sandwiches. It stands at least five inches tall, triangular in form, and approximately six inches long on all sides. In fifth grade, I would have told you the area and volume, but now all I can tell you is this was one monster of a sandwich — almost the size of my head. I felt like I was in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Not to be confused with Honey, I Blew Up the Kids, which is the worst movie I’ve ever seen.

Two of the five inches of this sandwich are large slabs of the fluffiest focaccia in the world. You could easily use each half as a pillow, if not a mattress, and take a long nap after you’re finished with this meal. Plus, the inside edges of the bread become soaked in oil and an olive tapenade making it very challenging to let any of those extra carbs go to waste. Fortunately, I went for a run this morning and biked to Red Hook so this was a non-issue. The middle three inches are reserved for a stack of delicious cured meats (soppressata, mortadella, coppa) and cheeses (provolone and swiss). Each layer is diverse in texture, beautiful in color and delicious in taste. The profile of this sandwich truly is a work of art. Despite the size of this beast, each element is perfectly proportioned so no one part overpowers the others. Instead each ingredient compliments their colleagues wonderfully.

The day was perfect. I had the ideal lunch, biked around Red Hook with friends, tossed the ball around and drank beers outside on a beautiful spring afternoon. Despite early frustration and disgust in the human race, in the end everything seemed to work itself out. I had a great day, and hopefully the crackhead who stole my bike seat did too.

Fort Defiance | 365 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn

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