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Cheesesteak Love

Thanks to Jesse from Beer & Nosh for tweeting me about this. It seems fellow Pennsylvanian Dave McLean, who owns both Alembic and the Magnolia Gastropub, loves cheesesteaks. What do you know, so do I. Perhaps most people from Pennsylvania do. If you grew up on them, you know how hard it is to find a decent one outside of the Keystone State.

Jesse probably didn’t know that I, too, am obsessed with cheesesteaks. He sent me the link because of Dave’s keen fashion sense. So I was pretty excited when I saw he was wearing my logo shirt. Way to go Dave!

Photo by Stefanie Michejda

In a profile about food obsessions, Dave McLean reveals his own cheesesteak love. But he’s from Pittsburgh (BTW 7×7, Pittsburg is in California, Dave’s from Pittsburgh) whereas IMHO real cheesesteaks come from the Eastern part of the state, near Philadelphia. Both Pat’s and Geno’s are in Philly, where the cheesesteak, if not originated, is thought to have been perfected. Those two are the most famous, but I realize which is best and which other places are better is a volatile subject and everyone has an opinion on the subject.

I actually grew up west of Philadelphia, near Reading, and prefer the V&S Cheesesteak which used real cheese, not cheese whiz. I think whatever taste profile was your usual when you were a kid is the one that stays with you, like Mom’s home cooking. But Dave is also right that the Cheesesteak Shop, with 26 locations around the Bay Area, does probably the best job of approximating a Pennsylvania cheesesteak. As Dave points out, they do use Amoroso’s rolls from Philadelphia — a key ingredient — and they have Tastykakes, too. But I have to gently take exception to the assertion that a Tastykake is “like a Hostess cupcake.” That’s like saying Filet Mignon is like a hamburger.

Of course, I’m also obsessed with Tastykakes. I grew up on them and they’re definitely light years ahead of any other pre-packaged desserts I’ve ever tried. Although I love the Butterscotch Krimpets, the cream-filled cupcakes and even the now-defunct coffee cake, my all-time favorite is the peanut butter Kandy Kake. But I swear that they used to be called “Tandy Takes” when I was a kid (can anybody corroborate that?). Safeway carried them briefly in the Bay Area a decade ago, but then abruptly dropped them. You can also buy them online, which I confess I’ve done. They’re that good. Their tagline used to be “all the good things wrapped up in one.” Too true. Damn, now I’m hungry.


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