Lately I've been trying to come up with a list of the best things I've eaten in Atlanta. A couple of items topping out the list are the Lime Parfait from Bacchanalia, the ricotta dumplings from Serpas, and even the beef rib from Fox Brothers. On Saturday evening, one bite facilitated the climb of a new item to the top of the list. That bite was of the classic Kool Korner's Cuban sandwich.
OK, slow down. I know most of you are thinking, "Wait, didn't Kool Korner close up shop in 2008?" And the answer to this is a simple, "Yes." However, few Atlantans know that shortly after closing in Atlanta the owner, Ildefonso Ramirez, set up shop in Vestavia Hills, Alabama. I'll spare you the details but the story is right here.
On Saturday, a group of Atlantans made a pilgrimage out to the new location of this legendary Cuban establishment to feast on what has been touted as the best Cuban sandwich in all the land. I was fortunate enough to reap the benefit of their 6 hour round trip by having two sandwiches hand delivered to me by a good friend. Thank you sir, you're a gentleman and a scholar.
When the hand-off was made in a Candler Park parking lot, I might as well have been buying smack. The aroma coming out of the bag of cold sandwiches was instantly addicting. I rushed home and popped these bad boys (they travel surprisingly well) in the oven at 200 degrees for 25 minutes and they came out crispy, melty and what I imagine it's like fresh off the press. My buddy got the Mojo on the side (smart thinking) and we reapplied the sauce to the sandwich which was the equivalent of hitting it with the defibrillator.
As soon as your teeth make it through the crispy, homemade exterior of the bread and continue through the rest of the ingredients, you know it's on. The flavor combination is insane. Yes, I've had a Cuban and yes they were good, but not like this. After her first bite, Kins turned to me and said, "This is made with love." We were pretty quiet for the rest of the meal. I couldn't have put it any better myself - the sandwich is sublime. While the pork seemed minimal to me, it didn't get at all overpowered by the ham or other ingredients. Frankly, I'm doing the sandwich a disservice by even trying to describe it. Addictive is a perfect descriptor; within 5 minutes of my last bite, I was already jonesing for another.
As a nice surprise my friend also through a pastelito de guayaba in the bag for us too. At only 85 cents this pastry is the deal of a life time. The size of an oversized scone, the pastry was gold brown and layered with delicate flakiness. It was stuffed with cream cheese and guava spread and so delicious that it gives a big middle finger to all of Atlanta's bakery offerings.
So, was it worth the trip? Do you even have to ask? If a pilgrimage's definition is a long journey or search of great moral/spiritual significance, then yes, this is the Cuban mecca.