6334 Gaston Ave., Dallas
Flawless execution of the scheduled delivery: 20
Would not deliver beer, so I had to leave the house after all ("I'm sorry, they don't let me do that."): 0
Genu-wine Philly-made Tastykakes: 15
Free delivery with $12 order:12
Patience on the phone while I rummaged for credit card:19
Greasy, but not too greasy:19
Cheesesteaks I could totally still eat in one sitting, and I'll fight the man who says otherwise:5
Total score: 90
Philly Connection 90
See complete 2009 standings here
When I saw that ESPN's Sunday night game would feature the great Cardinals-Cubs rivalry, it took me right back to my college days in Chicago and perfect spring afternoons when we'd skip class and ride the El down for a Wrigley Field double-header.
[Editor's note: The only perfect afternoon at Wrigley is when the Redbirds sweep.]
That's when I first fell in love with competitive eating too: I won my contest in the frat quads, eating five Philly cheesesteaks in a 10-minute contest run by a suburban sandwich shop. When I received my fifty bucks from the sandwich shop owner (who, in a rare turn for men of his profession, was a faintly sleazy smooth-operator type with a thick goatee and a heavy East Coast accent), I was hooked on the sport. For the next year, the shop even sold a sandwich topped with sweet peppers and mushrooms called the "Pat Michels."
As the eating career goes, it's been pretty much downhill since then.
Anyway, there was no question--the menu for the Cubs game [Editor's note: He means Cards game] had to be cheesesteaks, especially with Philly Connection just down the street. I called around 6:30, half an hour before game time, and was told their delivery driver wouldn't be around until 8. Usually speed of delivery is an important statistic in our delivery reviews, but I decided the scheduled delivery would present a unique challenge.
With a $12 delivery minimum, I ordered a Chocolate Junior Tastykake, the Stuffed Spudz appetizer and a 10-inch sandwich called "The Works," topped with a sweet peppers and mushrooms--the sentimental choice.
Tempting as it was to go all-out with my competitive eating reminiscence, I limited myself to just the one sandwich tonight. Nothing more depressing than a solo eating competition, right? Unless you're filming it for a remote contest. Well, maybe even then.
While I waited for the food to arrive, I biked down the street--past the sandwich shop--for a suitable beer to accompany the meal. I was shocked to see Whole Foods doesn't sell Old Style, so I settled for the Lamar Street Pale Ale, an organic beer made by Chicago's Goose Island Brewery (longtime sponsors, incidentally, of that city's annual oyster-eating qualifier).
[Editor's note: OK, in this case Chicago wins. St. Louis' most famous beer falls short, even of Old Style.]
I was pretty hungry by the time 8 o'clock rolled around, and while there was no sandwich yet, there was still no ballgame either, thanks to a downpour in Chicago. Just as I was about to pick up the phone and order a few more sandwiches, though, the doorbell rang, right at 8:10. Calculating drive time and other incidentals, I figure the scheduled delivery came right on time.
The food came just as I'd ordered it: simple, no surprises, greasy as all hell. Inside the tin foil wrapper, the wax paper around the sandwich by now made a totally transparent window onto the meat and cheese inside. I started off with three of the Spudz, deep fried sticks filled with cheese, potato and peppers. The fried outside crunched and the filling was still hot.
Calling 90 minutes ahead of time, I figured, could easily have doomed me to a sandwich made right when I hung up the phone--always the danger of the scheduled delivery. My cheesesteak was still warm and fresh, though, and the flavor of the sweet peppers stood up admirably. Best of all was the bread: still chewy, not soggy with grease.
For years I couldn't eat a cheesesteak at all, the taste too closely associated with that fine day of nausea and glory. This one tasted great to me, even when the Cubs game rained out [Editor's note: Mercifully, for you Flubs fan] and I ended up watching some show about a sperm whale that exploded in the streets of a city in Taiwan.
Yeah, only one sandwich was involved. But that was enough of an accomplishment for a night.
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