As a native New Jerseyan… New Jerseyite? Jerseyer? …as someone from New Jersey who’s made a home in Los Angeles, there are certain things that you miss from time to time. The leaves changing color, the smell of toxic waste in the morning, and of course, the food. Any Northeasterner living in La La Land will tell you that certain foods out here just don’t measure up. Pizzas and bagels are obvious ones, but the big one for me is sandwiches.
Oh man, do I love a good sandwich. It’s just two pieces of bread and some meat, but somehow when those three things are put together it’s magical. Like the Three Stooges or Wilson Phillips. I love sandwiches so much that I named a production company after my favorite sandwich place back in East Hanover, Jersey, The Great Wazu. If you’re in the area pick up the #3 with hot peppers for me.
But the sandwich I love the most is a Philly Cheesesteak. Sure, people from Philly can be miserable bastards, but while others bake with love, they grill with hate and that makes all the difference. I fell in love with it on frequent trips to the Jersey Shore, where it’s as ingrained in the culture as bad techno music and hairspray. In college I cooked and did deliveries for a place called Philly Junction in Boulder, Colorado, which is where I learned how to make a true Philly Cheesesteak.
I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. That’s a ridiculous … ly awesome price for four honest-to-god Philly Cheesesteaks!
In between deliveries to the local strip joint (great tippers) and the campus (not great tippers, unless you took bong hits instead of cash), I learned from a master the difference between a sandwich that fills you up and one that transports you to another time and place.
What does all this have to do with a tech site? Well, through the magic of the internets, you no longer need a great sandwich to transport you to another time a place – the internets will now deliver that time and place right to your door!
I’m talking, of course, about Goldbely.com, a site that bills itself as “an online marketplace that connects curious eaters with America’s best gourmet food purveyors.” Gourmet food … like chocolate-covered potato chips from San Diego and chicken wings from Buffalo.
How Goldbely accomplishes such an astounding feat varies depending on the nature of the food item, but I’m not here to talk about the merits of having a Peter Lugar Porterhouse shipped to you on dry ice versus the best cut from your local butcher, or if ribs from Charles Vergo’s Rendezvous being cooked then frozen for shipping is an abomination. I’m in Los Angeles and I wanted a real cheesesteak.
Lucky for me, Goldbely recently ran a special for a Philadelphia Cheesesteak Battle Box pitting two cheesesteaks from Geno’s Steaks against two from Pat’s for only $79.00. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re absolutely right. That’s a ridiculous…ly awesome price for four honest-to-god Philly Cheesesteaks!
I made the purchase on a Thursday, but since it was after 10 AM ET and they don’t ship Friday through Sunday, I had to wait for them to go out overnight the following Monday. And then Tuesday… there they were. Perfectly cooked, flash frozen, and delivered to my doorstep sandwiched between cold packs that were no longer cold. Even before I took a bite I knew these were the best cheesesteaks in California.
This is not a perfect system; reheating the cheesesteaks required some on-the-fly expertise. I knew I couldn’t leave them in the oven for too long without ruining that Amaroso’s bread, but the microwave could turn them into a soggy lump. Fortunately, a quick shot of the former followed by a little crisping in the latter, and my first one – from Geno’s – confirmed my earlier assumption. It might have even been better than the Philly Junction.
So a day-old flash-frozen Philly Cheesesteak via the internet works; what about a two-day-old Philly Cheesesteak? Amazing. Three-day-old? Delicious. Four days? I don’t know – the final Pat’s cheesesteak is bronzed and on my mantel next to a photo of me and the boys on the boardwalk in Atlantic City.
I can’t guarantee that everything Goldbely ships will be as amazing as my cheesesteaks were, but there are plenty of options – smoked fish from Barney Greengrass in NYC, Aunt Sally’s New Orleans Pralines, Kreuz Market sausages from Lockhart, Texas – that are made to keep and should be fine. And I can see why some people might balk at the prices, but then again, can you really put a price on getting Elegant Farmer’s famous “Paper Bag” apple pie from Mukwonago, Wisconsin for your Thanksgiving table? Goldbely can and it’s $39.99. Not too bad… unless you hate America.
As for who won between Geno’s and Pat’s? Sandwiches won. Sandwiches won.