Sunday, November 18, 2007

Eric & Micah Eat Cheesesteaks

My friend Micah Engber and I have enjoyed many a good meal together. We found ourselves in Philadelphia earlier this fall. I mentioned that I had never had a cheesesteak sandwich in Philadelphia, so Micah said he'd take me to both Geno's and Pat's, the two most famous purveyors of cheesesteak, across the street from each other. Pat's claims to have invented the sandwich.

Aficionados will claim one is better than the other, or that there are better purveyors in Philly than these pioneers.

We decided to do an apples to apples comparison. At each place we had a basic sandwich with just steak, onions and cheese. We chose Whiz at both stands, although it appeared more like melted American cheese than something shot from a pressurized can.

We enjoyed both, but discerned no difference between them. heresy, I know. Micah's Mom, Harriett, joined us and took these photos.

From Micah:

Both use rib eye (Delmonico) steak, sliced thin for their cheese steaks. Geno's never claimed to be the creator of the sandwich, they just claim to make a better sandwich then Pat's.

They each use different styles of grill keeping. While Geno's keeps there grill immaculately clean, and free from grease, Pat's keeps their grill covered with grease from the previous sandwiches. Both claim that it makes for a better taste. Both are also supposed to be open 24/7 -365.

The other big rivalry is between Pat's King of Steaks and Rick's Philly Steaks. I heard the story on FoodTV but took this part from Wikepedia to save time in toying it all out.

"Pat's King of Steaks is the original shop opened by Pasquale "Pat" Olivieri and his brother, Harry. Harry's grandson, Frank, owns Pat's. Pat's grandson, Rick, owns Rick's Original Philly Steaks at Reading Terminal Market.

Pat's son, Herbert (Rick's father), expanded the business by opening franchises of Pat's King of Steaks. In the 1980's, the Olivieris split up the business. Harry and Frank Sr. kept the original location, Herbert ("King" Pat's son) opened Olivieri's Prince of Steaks in Reading Terminal Market. Herbert's son Rick renamed it "Rick's" in the mid-1990s, still using the crown logo and mentioning his grandfather, Pat Olivieri.

In October 2006, Pat's sued Rick's, alleging trademark infringement, trademark dilution and unfair competition, based on the use of the crown logo and the name "Pat Olivieri"."

I've made cheesesteaks at home.

My method is to thinly slice a relatively inexpensive cut of steak such as round and fry the slices in a cast iron pan, seasoning liberally with kosher salt. I use 1/4 pound per person.

Separately, I saute sliced (not chopped) onions and green peppers until soft. Quantity is based on how you wish to balance the vegetables with the meat and cheese.

For cheese, I use yellow American -- the actual cheese, not cheese food or process cheese food, and melt it in the microwave. I use two slices per sandwich.

The roll is always a supermarket brand soft sub roll.

I've made these as part of a party spread and cut each roll into three or four pieces.

A great tarted up steak sandwich is the Number 9 at D'Angelo, a sandwich chain in New England. I once had one when dining with a girlfriend. As chunks of food fell out of the sandwich and juices ran down my chin she said, "You're making a spectacle of yourself!" Indeed I did.