With Easter coming so late this year–April 24–Mardi Gras, too, is pushed back. It’s on March 8. But that doesn’t mean I’m not already thinking about New Orleans food, especially after the Mickey-Mouse-shaped beignets served in New Orleans Square in Disneyland, which were pretty good, better than I expected. Hard to mess up fried dough, I suppose . . . And speaking of fried dough, there’s now a beignet vendor at the Santa Rosa Farmers Market. I’ll be posting about him as soon as I get there in time to try his beignets and get a few photos.
In the meantime, let’s talk about the muffaletta, that fabulous New Orleans sandwich. If you’ve never had one, it can be hard to understand what the big deal is. If you have had one, you want another. And another.
And you’re in luck. Rustic, the restaurant at Francis Ford Coppola Winery, has muffaletta on the menu. The bread is as authentic as it gets; it’s flown in from New Orleans. And the wrapping is pretty authentic, too, though you’ll notice the nontraditional spelling, muffuletta instead of muffaletta.
The sandwich itself is delicious, with the tanginess of the olive salad a wonderful counterpoint to the rich meats and cheese. The muffaletta is sold by the quarter ($8), half ($12) and whole ($18). Once the pool opens for the season on the first weekend in April, it will make an awesome pool-side lunch. For now, you might order a whole one to go while you enjoy something else for lunch or dinner. There’s nothing like having a muffaletta in the frig. I brought one home from New Orlean’s Central Grocery, credited as making the original muffaletta, and it lasted three days.
Most muffaletta are served either chilled or at room temperature. But I stumbled upon a restaurant on the edge of the French Quarter that serves theirs hot and, oh my, was it ever great! It’s now my favorite way to enjoy this fabulous sandwich.
It’s not difficult to make muffaletta at home, though you have to compromise on the bread (that could change some time soon so stay tuned). Here’s a good recipe from the Seasonal Pantry archives.