Wednesday, December 31, 2014

20 Shrimp, fresh tomato, piparra and mayo

That's a lot of mayonnaise. This 100 Montaditos offering put me in the mind of a club sandwich, although really all it had in common with a club sandwich was that mayo and the tomato, and I suppose the toasty bread. 

And I can't say it was bad. Tasty, in fact.

So think of a pretty decent shrimp club sandwich, hold the bacon, and with roasted red pepper standing in for lettuce. 

Montaditos down: 20
Montaditos to go: 80
Next: 21 Tuna fresh tomato and mayo

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

19 Shrimp, lettuce, fresh tomato, pepinillo and mayo

Ah, yes, the pickles from Spain. Just when I was growing disenchanted with the shrimp section of the 100 Montaditos menu, these pickles that they speak of (sweet gherkins, basically) make for the tastiest yet of los montaditos de camarones.

I might even order this one again someday.

Montaditos down: 19
Montaditos to go: 81
Next: 20 Shrimp, fresh tomato, piparra (mild pepper from Spain) and mayo

Monday, December 29, 2014

18 Shrimp, lettuce, piquillo pepper and ali oli

This is the first appearance of piquillo pepper on the 100 Montaditos menu, and I am here to report that it's pretty much the same as the now-ubiquitous-in-America "roasted red pepper."

And it works nicely with the casino-shrimp-cocktail shrimp, though I have to say I doubt I'll be revisiting the shrimp section of the menu once I've finished my first hundred.

Montaditos down: 18
Montaditos to go: 82
Next: 19 Shrimp, lettuce, fresh tomato, pepinillo (pickles from Spain) and mayo

Sunday, December 28, 2014

17 Shrimp, lettuce, crispy onion and caesar dressing (whole-grain bread)

This is a big moment: Our first bread shift! Whole-grain! And it's not bad at all. I think I prefer the regular bread, but this is nice for a change.

Crispy onion is always a good thing, and the lettuce didn't assert itself as much as it did in No. 16. There was some sort of dressing or mayonnaise or aioli, but I wouldn't have identified it as Caesar if I hadn't know it was supposed to be Caesar.

Overall, the sandwich is on a par with No. 15, maybe slightly superior.

Montaditos down: 17
Montaditos to go: 83
Next: 18 Shrimp, lettuce, piquillo pepper and ali oli

Saturday, December 27, 2014

16 Shrimp, lettuce, hard boiled egg and mayo

This may be the first dud I've experienced at 100 Montaditos.

I like the idea of the hard-boiled egg, but I saw it more than I tasted it. Maybe a little more salt? I'm not sure I'd ever use mayonnaise if I had "ali oil" at my disposal. The shrimp were lost. The lettuce was the predominant flavor. And "hard-boiled" needs a hyphen.

Bright side: The bread shines through in a case like this.

Montaditos down: 16
Montaditos to go: 84
Next: 17 Shrimp, lettuce, crispy onion and caesar dressing

Friday, December 26, 2014

15 Shrimp, lettuce and ali oil

This 100 Montaditos sandwich is a little wan-looking, with a pinkish hue, as George Constanza would say, or like a cherub's bare red ass, as Liz Phair would say, but it tastes just fine.

These are not expense-account-steakhouse-shrimp-cocktail-grade shrimp; they are Las Vegas-$1-shrimp-cocktail-grade shrimp. You get what you pay for, and there's nothing wrong with an inexpensive crustacean now and again. 

Montadito No. 15 makes me nostalgia for the days when the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino was a cozy joint full of frugal downtown gamblers, not a glitzy frat-boy wet dream.

And, of course, there are more cheap shrimp montaditos on the way. Bring 'em on.

Montaditos down: 15
Montaditos to go: 85
Next: 16 Shrimp, lettuce, hard boiled egg and mayo

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

14 Meatballs,manchego cheese and piparra

 I guess I'm a sucker for piparra, because once again the presence of that pepper elevates one of the 100 montaditos at 100 Montaditos. The cheese and tomato don't hurt either.

This is right up there among the best of the meatball sandwiches.

Montaditos down: 14
Montaditos to go: 86
Next: 15 Shrimp, lettuce and ali oli

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

13 Meatballs, bacon and arugula

Well, darn, that's two errors in a row. This was another good sandwich, with meatballs, bacon and the aforementioned tomato product, but the arugula was nowhere to be seen.
Another one I'll have to order again.

Montaditos down: 13
Montaditos to go: 87
Next: 14 Meatballs,manchego cheese and piparra

Monday, December 22, 2014

12 Meatballs,manchego cheese and green pepper

I appear to have encountered my first kitchen error: The meatballs-manchego-cheese-and-green-pepper sandwich contained no green pepper.

It did contain either a light dose of the aforementioned marinara sauce or a heavy dose of the aforementioned pan-con-tomate-tomato-rub-only-with-canned-tomatoes. Again, tomato is a good thing in a meatball sandwich. And cheese? Of course. But meatballs actually stand a chance of working pretty well with green pepper, so I'm a little disappointed, good though the sandwich was.

I guess I will have to order this one again, and insist on the green pepper, to give it an accurate review.

Montaditos down: 12
Montaditos to go: 88
Next: 13 Meatballs, bacon and arugula

Sunday, December 21, 2014

11 Meatballs with bacon

Now, that is one crowd-pleasing description. Who, at least among us non-kosher meat eaters, wouldn't love meatballs and bacon?

And, indeed, it's a good sandwich. My tomato concerns were even alleviated to some degree -- this sandwich appears to use canned tomatoes as a rub for the bread as in pan con tomate. Good idea, and I have nothing against canned tomatoes.

But a tomato presence isn't marinara sauce, and I sure do like marinara sauce. So I don't like No. 11 nearly as much as I liked No. 10.

And a curiosity: As I tasted this montadito, I noted that, boy, this bacon sure is salty. And then I'm like, salty in a very specific way. A way that I recognize. Wait, I know this! It's . . . anchovies! Yes, anchovies. I will have to try this montadito again to see whether that was a feature or a bug.

Montaditos down: 11
Montaditos to go: 89
Next: 12 Meatballs, manchego cheese and green pepper.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

10 Meatballs, crispy onion and marinara sauce

There's something about a meatball sandwich, and this is no exception. By which I mean, I guess, that there's something about this one.

The meatball sandwich is something that even Subway can't screw up. If I have to eat at a Subway, that's one of my two standbys, that and the tuna. Stay away from those flavorless cold cuts. (Have I mentioned that one of the things I like about 100 Montaditos is that it's the anti-Subway? You order a montadito and you get that montadito -- none of this "Yes, mayo, no, no mustard, hey, wait, maybe some green peppers, NO, WAIT, NOT THAT MUCH OF THE GREEN PEPPERS ...")

Anyway, 100 Montaditos makes a darn good meatball-with-marinara-and-crispy-onion montadito. The marinara is suitably spicy, and the crispy onions are a nice touch. There's a place at Eden Center that makes a meatball banh mi I like -- this was reminiscent.

And there are more meatball montaditos to come. I'm looking forward to them, though I'm a little wary of giving up the marinara sauce.

Montaditos down: 10
Montaditos to go: 90
Next: 11 Meatballs with bacon

Friday, December 19, 2014

09 Tortilla española, fresh tomato, green pepper and mayo

I was curious as I got to this point in the menu, where the ingredient "green pepper" first shows up. What does 100 Montaditos mean by green pepper? Is this the straightforward American usage, meaning green bell pepper? I was hoping it wasn't, because I'm not a big fan of that ingredient beyond a few applications.

But it was -- raw green bell pepper -- and it was fine. This was also the first appearance of fresh tomato on the menu, and the overall effect was very "veggie." (As it happens, this is the first sandwich in the Veggie Collection.)

This just in: My colleagues at The Post are trying to upstage me. If you want to read about all 100 sandwiches right now (spoiler alert!), here you go

Montaditos down: 09
Montaditos to go: 91
Next: 10 Meatballs, crispy onion and marinara sauce

Thursday, December 18, 2014

08 Tortilla española, manchego cheese and piparra

This sandwich was a sleeper.

The tortilla was much smaller and much more crumbled than my previous tortillas. I'd guess this is because some investment is going into the cheese, but the manchego is barely noticeable -- more of a background note. And then, those peppers.

The peppers loom large, because this is a bland-bland-BOOM sandwich. Bland egg, bland cheese, BOOM pepper, and it works extraordinarily well together. The combined effect, oddly, is like tasting a really nice egg-salad sandwich.

Montaditos down: 8
Montaditos to go: 92
Next: 09 Tortilla española, fresh tomato, green pepper and mayo

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

07 Tortilla española and chorizo

This review will be particularly bite-size. I liked the tortilla española. I loved the chorizo. What could go wrong? Not much. The combination could be discordant or it could be overkill, I suppose, but neither problem presents itself here. This is very good.

Oh, I told you I'd discuss quantum theory, didn't I? Well, we're already at that point. I'm making my way through the 100 montaditos at 100 Montaditos three at a time (carry the 1), and I'd rather not eat, say, three chorizo-based sandwiches in one sitting. But the way the menu is set up, after the original five montaditos, the numbers start to go in clusters by main ingredient. No. 6 through No. 9 feature the tortilla española, No. 10 through No. 14 feature meatballs, and so on.

Hence the quantum numbers. The first two rows fill in horizontally . . .


. . . but then 7, 8 and 9 need to be separate, and so we need to go vertical ...




. . . with the next numbers filling in where they can, subject to their own limitations . . .


. . . such as the fact that 13 and 14 don't play well with 10, 11 or 12 . . . 



. . . and so on.


What this means for you is, well, pretty much nothing, unless you're really into 99 Montaditos blog trivia (and if you are, I'm very concerned). The next review you see will be of sandwich No. 8, but the next sandwich I actually 8 ate was No. 10. Fascinating, huh?

Montaditos down: 7
Montaditos to go: 93
Next: 08 Tortilla española, manchego cheese and piparra (mild pepper from Spain)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

06 Tortilla española with ali oil

I'm a big fan of the tortilla espanola. For the uninitiated, it's nothing like the tortillas we know from Mexican food -- it's a scrambled-egg concoction, like a very thick omelet, usually with sliced potatoes. I even have a pet peeve regarding the tortilla espanola: I want mine at room temperature or even cold, not warm and certainly not hot.

Anyway, I was a little skeptical about the sandwich version, but my fears were unfounded. This is good. The aioli (garlic mayonnaise, basically) that's customarily served with the tortilla is put to good use, though 100 Montaditos calls it "ali oil," which makes me think of Luis Sarria.

Montaditos down: 6
Montaditos to go: 94
Next: 07 Tortilla española and chorizo

Monday, December 15, 2014

05 Chistorra and piparra

While the ordinary chorizo at 100 Montaditos is served sliced, the Basque version is presented in cute-little-link form. It's good -- smoky and sweet, and reminiscent (in a good way) of the "smoky links" I grew up eating. The pepper, also sweet, is like pepperoncini, and it's a perfect accompaniment. These are little slivers of the pepper, so I'm reasonably sure that even those averse to such foods would not mind them here, though not so sure that I would bring this montadito home to the missus.

Montaditos down: 5
Montaditos to go: 95
Next: 06 Tortilla española with ali oil

Sunday, December 14, 2014

04 Lomo

If I hadn't known I'd ordered lomo in my latest visit to 100 Montaditos, I'd have mistaken the meat in this sandwich for a higher-grade version of ham, perhaps jamón Ibérico rather than jamón Serrano. And, well, "cured pork," ham, potato, potahto, though this montadito contained neither potatoes nor potahtoes.

This is a nice sandwich, though a little hard to eat. The translucent slices of goodness resist biting and tearing, and so you might end up just sliding one off with your bite of bread. Worse things have happened.

Montaditos down: 4
Montaditos to go: 96
Next: 05 Chistorra

Saturday, December 13, 2014

03 Salchichón

Eh. I'm actually a big fan of this sausage, with its beautiful fat globules and its firm texture, but the 100 Montaditos sandwich struck me as neither here nor there. If I wanted that texture, I'd go for No. 2, chorizo. If I wanted that saltiness, I'd go for No. 1, Serrano ham. 

Don't get me wrong: It's not a bad sandwich. But it definitely ranks third among the three I've tried thus far.

Montaditos down: 3
Montaditos to go: 97
Next: 04 Lomo

Friday, December 12, 2014

02 Chorizo

I like chorizo, but I don't love it. If I get a board o'meat at a tapas place, I'll go for the jamón first and then the salchichón and finally the chorizo. So when I reached for montadito 2 of 100 at my local 100 Montaditos outlet, I figured it would be a rote checking-off of one of the standards.

But I was wrong. I know I'm only, uh, 2 percent of the way through this endeavor, but I can say right now that No. 2, chorizo, is a giant among tiny sandwiches.

This is a smoky, deeply flavored chorizo that leaves a beautiful burnt-orange oil slick on the bread. I know it makes an appearance later in the menu, and so I'm looking forward to Nos. 7, 56, 57, 58, 67 and 84.

Montaditos down: 2
Montaditos to go: 98
Next: 03 Salchichón

Thursday, December 11, 2014

01 Serrano ham

Finally, it's opening day at the new 100 Montaditos franchise in Washington, D.C.! The one less than a 10-minute walk from home! Delayed by an errand, I walked in at 11:03 a.m. rather than the opening time of 11, which apparently made me the second party to be served.

As I intend to tackle the menu in order, more or less (stay tuned for the quantum mechanics of achieving variety as the ingredients begin to get clustered), my first order was "1, 2 and 3." It was amusing that the lady at the counter had to have me repeat that. (I'll be ordering three at a time, more or less, but blogging about one at a time. I was correct in my estimation, based in part on the calorie counts, that three sandwiches per meal is about right. That's especially true given that I now know that they throw in a pile of potato chips.)

No. 1 is No. 1 for a reason: Jamón is huge (juge?) in Spain. And jamón Serrano is a go-to -- not the very best, but very good. And 100 Montaditos' jamón Serrano is ... very good.

The ham is salty, as it should be. The unknown quantity, given that this was my first bite of a montadito, was the bread. The chain calls it "baked to order," a claim I found highly dubious, but now that I've tasted it, it makes perfect sense.

What you get when you get a montadito is a brown-'n'-serve roll. Clearly they're dealing with par-baked rolls and a toaster oven of some sort. It's good for what it is, but, well, it is what it is. I've been known to bake up a loaf of Pillsbury bread-in-a-tube for my supermarket-ham-and-muenster sandwiches, to I'm not going to get all snobby about this sort of bread. It's not a crusty, authentic roll with the breaking-glass quality I experienced in Barcelona, but it's also never going to be a stale crusty, authentic roll. The question mark will be how it holds up in a to-go order.

Serrano ham is the classic montadito, and I thought it was going to be my go-to montadito, but you know what? I'm not sure it will be. The blank slate that is this good-for-what-it-is bread might be better served by more complex ingredients. The other breads that show up later on the menu might be stars. We'll see.

Montaditos down: 1
Montaditos to go: 99
Next: 02 Chorizo

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Why this blog?

Why this blog? The simple answer is that a 100 Montaditos franchise is opening near me and I'm an adventurous eater and I want to try every one of those montaditos.

But my excitement over this place (with which I have no affiliation) does go a little deeper. A few years ago my wife and I flew to Madrid and took a train to Barcelona and went on a Mediterrenean cruise and then spent a little more time in Barcelona and then Madrid. "If I had to choose two words to describe this vacation," I wrote when we returned home, "they would be 'ham sandwich.' "

I took to Spanish cuisine, but I was quick to say it was pretty much bread and ham and eggs and potatoes, and more bread and ham and eggs and potatoes. The signature ham sandwich in Barcelona came from a Mark Bittman tip. He directed anyone in Barcelona to try the sandwich at the nondescript chain Cafe Viena, and it just so happened that one of our Barcelona hotels was just a few blocks away. Bittman was right -- that was one great sandwich. But it wasn't the only one -- Serrano or Iberico ham on baguette-like bread is a constant in Spain. I never heard the word "montadito," but it refers to a tiny version of the "bocadillos" that I saw everywhere.

Scenes from Viena in Barcelona.
Bocadillos at the legendary Boqueria market.

The fact that 100 Montaditos serves beer and wine also resonates with me, not only because I'm such a big lush but also because of my memories of another spot by one of our Barcelona hotels. Alt Heidelberg was a German-themed bar/restaurant (mostly bar) right across the street, and I fondly remember downing a caña -- a small glass of draft beer -- there. I don't know whether 100 Montaditos serves cañas. I hope so, but I might have to settle for a full-size beer.

Scenes from Alt Heidelberg.
The location of this particular 100 Montaditos has some personal significance as well. My wife is the JD behind JDLand, the Web site that has chronicled the transformation of Near Southeast (or Navy Yard or Capitol Riverfront if you must), the neighborhood just south of the house where we've lived for nearly 20 years on the south side of Capitol Hill and the location of this eatery.

I am probably setting myself up for disappointment. I doubt the mass-produced bread from this chain will equal the breaking-glass-crust quality of the bread from Viena. The fillings will probably disappoint as well. But I am cautiosly optimistic. And hungry.