Matthew Lickona 5 p.m., Dec. 9
They Had Me at Maytag Blue
Usually, going to a ballgame is a regrettable in-and-out affair for me. My schedule typically doesn’t allow for much more than an express trip down the 163 (traffic permitting), followed by a typically fruitless search for decent parking, followed by a brisk jog to the ballpark to catch the opening pitch. After the game, I make a B-line for my auto-coach as I, inevitably, have a bunch of writing to do back at home.
Recently, I had a rare pregame meal at the East Village Smashburger. They’re known for the 100% Angus, prime-cut beef that makes up their patties, but what stood out to me was another high quality ingredient — Maytag blue cheese.
I first had Maytag back in 1999. I’d heard about this American variety of blue cheese, produced by the same company with the world’s most underutilized repairman, on Food Network. It was love at first bite. I liked the cleanness of flavor and lack of the formaldehyde-like, nasal-scalding pungency brawnier European varieties possess. Don’t get me wrong — there’s a time, place, dish, beer, or wine for those deep-blue wonders, but the everyday sandwich scenario is not among them.
To this day, Maytag remains one of my top three American blues. When I heard it was included on Smashburger’s Buffalo Chicken Smashchicken — a fried chicken breast on a bun with buffalo wing-style sauce — I was in.
Maybe I’m just way too patriotic about my fromage, but I could pick out the trademark flavors of the Maytag in the sandwich, and felt they really boosted its overall taste. It didn’t hurt that I had some fried pickles to add to the party. They make just about anything — sandwiches, Mondays, nights spent drinking and lamenting the wasted opportunities of one’s unsatisfying life — better.
As surprising as getting Maytag blue cheese at a spot like Smashburger was, it didn’t seem to impact the price of the sandwich. At $5.99, it was right on par with anything else on the menu. Who knew? Now, both you and I do.