Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Quest for Weck, or something I should have written when I was an Olympics zombie

I am sure I will say this again, but I am extremely lucky to be married to Mr. Sane. I can’t state for certain that he is the best husband in the world, but I feel confident declaring that he’s in the 99th percentile. For Valentine’s weekend, we went to Niagara Falls and got a hotel room on Grand Island. (OK, I’ll admit it – our kids were in the room with us; we were there for a hockey tournament.) Being so close to Buffalo, I became a woman on a Quest For Weck.

“Weck?” you ask. Beef on Weck is the Buffalo culinary specialty you haven’t heard about. (I presume you know about the dish they came up with at the Anchor Bar – the one with the chicken wings, and the butter, and the Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.) It is, in my opinion, the Queen of the Roast Beef Sandwiches. It’s hot roast beef au jus served on a Kimmelweck roll. The roll names the sandwich, and the roll makes the sandwich. It’s a bit like a Kaiser roll, only the top is sprinkled with caraway seeds and coarse salt. You slice it in half, dip the cut sides into the meat juices, and put the meat on it. The caraway and salt give the sandwich just the right zing, and if you’d like a little more zing, folks’ll be happy to serve you some horseradish to go with it.

But you can’t get kimmelweck buns – and, hence, can’t get beef on weck – outside the Buffalo area. I’d only ever had it because a college friend took me on a couple of road trips home to North Tonawanda. Some years back, when a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise opened around here – and they were still calling themselves BW3, for “Buffalo Wild Wings and Weck” – I was thrilled. Then I tasted their version of beef on weck. It doesn’t surprise me that they are now simply Buffalo Wild Wings.

But now, we were in Buffalo, or as close as makes no difference. And I wanted weck! I noodled around the internet looking for a good place. Most were far off the beaten path, or at least the path we were beating, but I found one not far from the rink where the girls were skating. So after Saturday’s game, Mr. Sane dutifully followed my directions and finally found the place – which wouldn’t open till dinnertime and wasn’t open Sunday or Monday.

Back to the hotel we went, and I got up the nerve to ask for a recommendation at the desk. “Oh, you want the Village Inn!” And she handed me a sheet of directions to local restaurants. It was a long sheet, but I quickly found the directions. Mr. Sane drove, and I, the navigator, told him to turn right out of the exit and then drive until we got to the end of East River Rd. So we drove... and drove... and drove, until we noticed that the road had not ended, and the signs now said West River Rd. At which point I reexamined the sheet and discovered that my eyes must have jumped to the next set of directions at one point. The directions to the Village Inn said turn left and drive to the end of East River Rd. The directions to the next restaurant said to turn right and drive for a mile or so before making another turn, etc. So, lacking a map of the island – and since we’re Luddites without a GPS (it’s hard to justify the expense when, honestly, I’ve never steered us this wrong before) – we drove back to the hotel, then drove down East River Rd. in the opposite direction.

By this point, it was getting pretty late for lunch, and we were all getting cranky, but, God bless him, Mr. Sane never once recriminated me for the faulty directions, never even grumbled under his breath. And we did eventually find the place, a cute little spot with about a dozen tables and the entire front of the house (at least at that hour) being a really nice guy named Tim. I got my beef on weck. Really good beef on weck.

But as good as the sandwich was, it wasn’t as good as having the kind of husband who would drive a good dozen miles, most of them, as it turned out, out of his way, to satisfy his wife’s craving for a roast beef sandwich.

1 comment:

  1. Darnit, now I'm craving beef on a bun. Sigh...

    And every time I read Tonawanda, I want to jump up and yell it out like Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes (even though she yells something ever so slightly different...)

    OK, that was the poorest comment ever. I'll do better next time!! :)