Monday, March 5, 2012

Off the Map: Would You Be Interested in Tailgating?

Chaps Special Submarine -- Chaps Pit Beef, Baltimore, MD
Chaps Pit Beef

Well, it's happened.  Vodka has crossed an item off of her bucket list (that she never even wanted on her bucket list in the first place):

Vodka has ridden in a pick-up truck.  Vodka has also "tailgated" in the flatbed trunk of a pick-up truck.  Apparently, this is the kind of thing that happens when one goes to Chaps Pit Beef in Baltimore.
Vodka Probably Would Have Done Such Things at a Professional Football Game Had She Ever Agreed to Go to One
Best Thing I Ever Ate is sending Vodka to Chaps Pit Beef for the Chaps Special Submarine, a sandwich which consists of corn beef, ham, roast beef, and American cheese.  Because Bloody Mary is being judgmental about Chaps's high class "reputation" (and in truth, because she wants to start cocktail consumption stat), she forces her friend to escort us to the establishment.  Located on a highway, spewing smoke out of a multitude of chimney stacks, and nestled next to a strip club, Chaps Pit Beef is not exactly Le Bernardin. 
James Beard Award Winner?
Keeping It Classy, Baltimore
Still, as Chaps features a long line of customers out the door, it seems Guy Fieri knew his stuff on the BETWEEN BREAD episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate.
And He's Apparently Intent on Proving It
What Is Sniveling?!
We snake our way into the restaurant, which features a small number of picnic tables scattered around two windows: one where you order and one where you pick up (the Baltimore version of a "drive-thru").
Would Be Easier If We Could Actually Drive Through in the Pick-Up Truck...
Vodka places an order for one special sub sandwich, and the pleasant woman behind the first window asks if it's okay that the sandwich comes with American cheese (so Chaps also suddenly keeps kosher practices?) and how we'd like our meat cooked (we say medium).
And With That, We're Overwhelmed
We loop around to the next window, and it then becomes obvious why Chaps is able to specify the degree to which a customer wants her meat cooked -- a giant display of simmering meats stands over smokers just inside the window, and shavings are removed for each individual sandwich.  Vodka tries clandestinely to photograph the procedure, but when one of the cooks sees her, he leaps out of her way rather than block her view (Ginger could take a lesson from this man).
Meat-Fest Photo Op
As we wait for our sandwich, Vodka becomes obsessed with procuring plastic cups of condiments: ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, BBQ sauce, and pickles are soon stacked in her arms, and when our sandwich is ready, we head outside.

Where we climb into the back of a pick-up truck to "tailgate."
One Always Needs Pickles When Dining in the Trunk
Now, climbing into a pick-up truck, for someone who has never done so, is no easy feat, and Vodka and Bloody Mary display as much grace as Tonya Harding when completing the procedure (after all, Vodka has her plethora of condiments to protect).
If Anything Should Happen, Save the Ketchup First
When we are properly assembled (and we take eighteen pictures of ourselves in the back of a pick-up, as this is a circumstance that is sure not to happen again any time soon), we unwrap our sandwich and gawk.
Flintstone-Sized Feast
First of all, while the special submarine itself is rather short and stout, it is packed to maximum capacity with the three varieties of meat, plus thick slivers of orange American cheese.  Vodka spreads ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and pickles on her half, while Bloody Mary sticks with BBQ sauce.  We clutch the roll together tightly and take our first hefty bites.

And tailgating never tasted so good.
"Meat" Me In Baltimore
Against our fears, the sandwich stays together pretty well, a feat we accredit to the roll, which is moldable without being soft, and clutches the meat much more tightly than a crispy Italian roll would.
The Roll Is Also Thankfully Devoid of Those Dreaded Sesame Seeds
The meat itself is ideally cooked -- tender and juicy without being runny, and featuring the faintest hint of smoke.  We each find our respective condiments the ideal accompaniments, and we polish off the sandwich lickety-split.
Good Thing We Have Big Mouths
We also decide that contrary to our initial judgmental thoughts, Chaps Pit Beef submarine is the best thing we have ever eaten... in a pick-up truck parked next to a strip club.

Chaps Special Submarine: 4 stars

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