With the recent NCAA basketball championship in New Orleans, a longing for those delicious dishes of that city is renewed. One of the most notable NOLA creations is the humble, yet addicting, muffaletta sandwich. The muffaletta from Central Grocery, an Italian deli on Decatur Street, is impossibly good. Their muffaletta, which was invented in this deli in 1906, is a cold sandwich stacked high with Italian salami, mortadella, capicola and provolone on a round Sicilian seeded loaf slathered with a proprietary olive salad: sliced olives, cauliflower, carrots, capers, olive oil, garlic, parsley and oregano. Half of that sandwich is a meal; a whole one is a feast. At Central Grocery, the sandwiches are wrapped in white butcher paper and kept long enough for the marinade on the olive salad to permeate the bread. But many people in New Orleans argue about which eatery makes the best local muffaletta, since the sandwich varies a bit from place to place.
Last week, e2 GO, the takeout arm of e2: emeril's eatery and located in the breezeway of the Duke Energy Center (135 Levine Avenue of the Arts), announced their opening. Their menu will include a muffaletta.
As it turns out, though, the e2 GO sandwich is a disappointing panini. The sandwich is thin (it's pressed), filled with salami, mortadella, provolone, and a minimal olive salad.
I asked Frank at Central Grocery in New Orleans if muffalettas in New Orleans are ever pressed or warm. "Seldom," he replied.
I understand a chef making interpretations on a dish, like Chef Donald Link, who house cures his meats for his muffaletta served at Cochon Butcher in New Orleans. But Charlotte does not have a muffaletta. We do, however, have an abundance of paninis. Come on, Emeril. Give us a real muffaletta.
Looking for a food you can't find? Or do you know of other food items unique to the Q.C.? Whether it's regional foods or international, talk to me: firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-522-8334, extension 136.