This year, leading up to our annual Menu of Menus issue, Kaitlin Steinberg counts down her 100 favorite dishes as she eats her way through Houston. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most awesome, most creative and, of course, most delicious in town. It's a list of her personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that seem particularly indicative of the ever-changing Houston foodscape. It's a list to drool over.
If the following is news to you, then you're not watching the right things on TV.
American Horror Story premiered its third season this past Wednesday, and as has been the case with the show's first two seasons, much of the same cast has returned, but this season's story arc has nothing to do with the first two years of the show, and each of the cast members is playing a different role. The show is like a miniseries with the same actors that tells a completely different story each season. First, it was a haunted house. Last year, an insane asylum and demon possession and whatnot. This season, the story revolves around a coven of witches living in New Orleans.
Though New Orleans is known for sinister voodoo and creepy hauntings in general, one of the city's most famous residents was Marie Laveau, the "Queen of Voodoo" and a self-proclaimed voodoo priestess. There are a great number of legends surrounding Laveau's black magic, none of which can be substantiated, of course, but she remains a pop culture icon. And this season, she's a key player in American Horror Story.
All of this is to explain why, on a recent evening, I ventured back to Sandy Witch Sandwich Company inside Grand Prize Bar not to drink, but to obtain a Marie Laveau sandwich. I needed something special to eat during my own personal viewing party.
I had eaten the Marie Laveau sandwich before and found it to be the perfect drunk and/or hungover food, but I was reminded of the dish in preparing to watch the season premiere of AHS. It just seemed like the perfect pairing. Either that or gumbo, but Sandy Witch is open later than any gumbo joint I know.
The Marie Laveau is one of eight sandwiches on Sandy Witch's menu, developed by the man behind Pi Pizza, Anthony Calleo. It features tender and juicy Dr. Pepper-braised short rib with just a hint of herbal sweetness from the soda, stewed collard greens and house-made honey mustard with a kick. That's all served on a Kraftsmen challah bun sprinkled with crispy shallot strings that can get quite messy from the all the saucy stuff inside. You'd better eat this sandwich over a plate with lots of napkins standing by.
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I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing Calleo chose to name this one after the New Orleans voodoo queen because of its southern slant, which comes courtesy of the collard greens and Dr. Pepper. Though collard greens aren't a popular sandwich filling, they provide the perfect amount of bitter to counter the rich sweetness in the beef and the honey mustard. The challah bun is also slightly sweet, and the honey mustard slightly spicy. It's like a magical piquant potion taking over your senses.
And then, before I knew it, the episode was over and the sandwich, which I'd sworn was too big for me to eat in its entirety, was gone.
And I was left alone dreaming of Marie Laveau and bewitching Dr. Pepper-braised beef.
The list so far: No. 100: Bangkok Fries at Boheme No. 99: Almond Croissant at Phoenicia No. 98: Bulgogi Tacos with Kimchi at Chi'Lantro No. 97: Soft Pretzel from Mongoose Versus Cobra No. 96: Chicken and Waffles at Adair Kitchen No. 95: Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Brooklyn Athletic Club No. 94: Foie Gras Mac & Cheese at BRC Gastropub No. 93: Vuelve a la Vida Soup at Connie's Seafood No. 92: Homeroom at Bernie's Burger Bus No. 91: Lobster Cake Benedict at Sorrel Urban Bistro No. 90: Uncle Daryl's Cake at The Chocolate Bar No. 89: Porchetta e Fagioli at Giacomo's Cibo e Vino No. 88: Sesame Soft Balls at Golden Dim Sum No. 87: Crab Daddy Bao at Fat Bao No. 86: Ham, Egg & Cheese Crepe at Melange Creperie No. 85: Pork Tamales at Irma's No. 84: Greek Burger at Hubcap Grill No. 83: Lobster Roll at Maine-ly Sandwiches No. 82: Grilled Ahi Tuna at St. John's Fire No 81: Catfish and Grits at The Breakfast Klub