Monday, January 28, 2013

Hoagie Haven, Princeton, NJ, USA

Sultan of Sandwich
Sandwich Man is back!  Haven't had any good sandwiches to note lately.  Until now.

My friend MK, who is involved in some work at the Institute for Advanced Studies, invited me down to Princeton, NJ to catch up and bum around.  I've always liked Princeton  -- a town that MK described as the "Walled Garden in the Garden State".  If you have a little extra cash lying around, be sure to send your kid to college there.  As for me, to do this I would have needed to start saving for my kids' college fund when I was myself 3 years old.

Despite the fact that we had eaten a couple of 6-egg omelettes only a couple of hours earlier, a trip to Hoagie Haven was not to be denied.  This venerable institution is as cherished by the surrounding community as the university itself, and it was in fact my boss, upon learning about my trip to Princeton and totally unprompted, strongly urged me to visit this hallowed space.  

"Truthfully, the biggest disappointment in my life is knowing that my 
time in Princeton will not overlap that of Hoagie Haven's."
Faculty housing at the IAS was about 2 miles away but we decided to hoof it to better whet the appetite for what promised to be a Sultan's delight.  After a walk past Einstein's house and a moderate walk down Nassau St., the unassuming store front was in view.  And no line!  Dozens of options were available, and I decided to throw caution to the wind and get the most unorthodox item on the menu: a Buffalo Chicken Cheese Steak hoagie.  MK, after I told him that New Jersey was the eggplant capitol of the world, was tempted to get eggplant parmesan but instead got a Fried Flounder hoagie.  In the spirit of the University and the IAS, both choices were made in the spirit of inquiry and experimentation.

These sandwiches are long, more than a foot for sure and a couple of pounds each.  It's not often that I'm intimidated by a big sandwich, but in this case I felt very sure that I was in over my head.  The BCCS sandwich had hot peppers, lettuce, onion, tomato, pickle, blue cheese dressing and hot sauce.  The FF had tartar sauce among some other standard fixings.

Wasting no time, we sat on the bench directly outside and went to work.  I must say the the bread is the best I've had on any sandwich.  Everything worked together.  I realized a little too late that there was in fact White American on the sandwich, to its detriment (I much rather prefer Provolone on a steak) but everything else was good enough to mask this fact.  You gotta say yes to another excess, so I finished the sandwich, to both MK's and my amazement.  In competitive eating parlance, I'm happy to say that there were no reversals or other unpleasantries.

MK seemed happy with his fish sandwich but wisely stopped at the halfway mark.  Later I learned that the full Wolf Moon inspired him to finish it off later.  The 2 mile walk back to the Institute Housing helped let it all settle down, despite a brief stop at the brewpub.  

No question: Hoagie Haven is a Sultan of Sandwich.

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