If your favorite meal doesn’t already exist in sandwich form, it probably could. To me, of all the many reasons to love sandwiches, this is one of the most compelling. To illustrate what I mean, here’s an exercise: Think for a second of your favorite meal. Got it? Now, think of it tucked between two pieces of bread or layered inside a crusty baguette. Whether it’s a steak frites hoagie, steamed lobster roll, chicken nugget bánh mì or coq au vin on rye, I’ll bet you 10 pounds of ham your new imaginary sandwich looks delicious. (When you’re done reading, run to the kitchen and make one.)
Obviously, some meals translate more a bit naturally from plate to sandwich than others. Among the many tempting vegetarian dishes on the menu at Jaleo, the José Andrés-owned chain of Spanish tapas joints, is Trigueros con Romesco, a Catalan-inspired combination of seared asparagus on a bed of romesco sauce. I’ve never eaten the version at Jaleo (though it’s popular enough to have a Foodspotting page), and I might never have to. This thanks to whichever genius at Andrés’s ThinkFoodGroup had the brilliant idea to toss the whole thing on a beautiful ciabatta roll and start slinging it mobile-style through the window at Pepe Food Truck, which the group launched in early 2012.
If there was ever a tapas plate begging for conversion, Trigueros con Romesco is it. In sandwich form, the seared asparagus is a more than capable main component, offering substance, texture and flavor while politely sharing the spotlight with the fantastic, peppery romesco sauce. Traditionally made from a red pepper base with nuts, sherry vinegar and garlic, the romesco complements the charred notes of the asparagus and imposes its own character, a flavor that is unique and unexpected in the best possible way. The aforementioned ciabatta, crusty and airy, offers an appropriately sturdy chassis. In all, it’s a tidy package, ample but not excessive, and unlike any sandwich I’ve had in quite some time.
Priced at $10 to $12 dollars, the sandwiches at Pepe are perhaps a bit of an indulgence by food truck standards. Don’t let this stop you. As I’ve written many times before, there’s a difference between expensive and overpriced, and if the steady line of lunchtimers who flock to Pepe’s window is any indication, these sandwiches are worth every penny. Although the Trigueros con Romesco might seem like a relative underdog, it just might be the best of the bunch.