The age-old contest for the Best Pork Sandwich in the Piedmont title just gained another entrant. At Old Havana Sandwich Shop (310 E. Main St., Durham, www.oldhavanaeats.com, 667-9525), a counter restaurant that opened last week, the pork in question isn't barbecue, but rather, a Cuban sandwich. And according to Elizabeth Turnbull—who co-owns Old Havana with her husband, Cuban native Roberto Matos—like barbecue, Cuban sandwiches stir "much political debate."
Rather than settling on one style, Turnbull and Matos will offer four kinds of sandwiches dressed with mojo sauce, a mix of garlic and vinegar. The Santiago ($6.25), just pork and mojo, will appeal to Cuban sandwich purists, says Turnbull. On the other hand, the Tampa ($7.50)—roasted pork, ham, cheese, salami, mustard, pickles and the restaurant's signature sauce—will provide an option for those who favor a zestier sandwich.
Old Havana is committed to sourcing quality local foods, says Turnbull. It buys bread from Guglhupf in Durham and antibiotic-free, pasture-raised pork from GrassRoots Pork Company in Beulaville.
Old Havana opens at 7:30 a.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. on Saturdays with pastries, Cuban toast (buttered, pressed, and toasted sub rolls) and coffee, including a traditional café con leche (espresso with two parts frothed milk, $1.50). The restaurant closes at 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Look for a new selection of local pork sandwiches in Carrboro these days, too. Will and Pop's (www.willandpops.com), a food truck that opened at the end of 2010, offers the Intimidator, an apt name for a combination of pulled pork, homemade slaw and a quarter-pound hamburger patty ($9). For the fainter of heart (or perhaps the smarter), there's a traditional pork sandwich ($6), in addition to hot dogs ($2), BLTs ($4) and a slew of other burgers. Will and Pop's parks between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Short Stop on the corner of N.C. 54 and Main Street in Carrboro. Thursday through Saturday, Will and Pop's is open from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. at Cliff's Meat Market (100 W. Main St.), where it sources much of its food. During the wee hours, expect gussied-up grilled cheeses (the Gangsta features pulled pork; $6), plus macaroni and cheese ($3) and a grilled peanut butter, marshmallow cream and banana sandwich ($4).
This month, many Triangle foods and their producers were honored at the inaugural Good Food Awards (www.goodfoodawards.org), an organization and program that grew out of Slow Food Nation in 2008 to honor artisan and craft food producers. All of the Triangle's nominees brought home awards. April McGreger of Farmer's Daughter (www.farmersdaughterbrand.com) in Carrboro won prizes for her Spicy Green Tomato pickles and Bourbon'd Figs. Two coffee companies were selected for their beans and brews: Carrboro Coffee Company (www.openeyecafe.com/carrboro_coffee) of Carrboro, for its El Aguacate, and Counter Culture Coffee (www.counterculturecoffee.com) of Durham, for its Finca Kilimanjaro.
Weeping Radish Eco Farm and Brewery of Grandy won for its Sweet Potato Liverwurst, which uses pork livers from the Cane Creek Farm (www.canecreekfarm.us) in Snow Camp.