In the mid 19th century William Davies immigrated to Canada and before long, set up a stall at Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market. William sold hams and bacon and quickly learned, he was onto something. By the 1860’s he was shipping high quality salt cured pig products back to his native England. In time, the William Davies Company would operate the largest pork processing plant in the British Empire, the second largest in North America and would be credited (in part) for creating the Canadian pork industry we know today.
This success wasn’t lost on others as competitors soon cropped up and would be the genesis of Toronto’s nickname, Hogtown.
Toronto has never gotten over it’s love affair with the pig. Toronto’s signature sandwich is the Peameal Bacon on a Bun. This simple dish, an almost “Must do” for any trip to the St. Lawrence Market, traces it’s DNA back to the inventor of Peameal Bacon; William Davies.
Another piggy treat that’s really gained a lot of steam over the last half decade or so is the Porchetta Sandwich. In “Hogtown”, there’s no better offering of this rich, slow roasted porcine deliciousness than at Porchetta and Co.
This small (mostly) take away only place nestled in the heart of Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood churns out plates, sandwiches and sides. The menu is really that small but is shored up by weekly “white board” specials like Fried Chicken.
P & Co. take the basic porchetta and soup it up. A pork shoulder is marinaded 24 hours with a variety of aromatics like rosemary and lemon zest. It’s then wrapped in proscuitto. Just because that simply isn’t good enough, the whole thing is then wrapped in cured pork belly. From there, the whole monster is blasted in an oven to create a great crust before slow roasting for hours to achieve that melt in your mouth, decadent flavour that has people lining out the door.
Chef/Owner Nick auf der Mauer open shop in December of 2010 and it has been on my “To do” list pretty much ever since. It wasn’t until a season 2 episode of Anthony Bourdain’s show The Layover came to town and, what with Tony being big on the pig, paid them a visit that I realized I could no longer put it off. Couple that with a tweet pronouncing they were serving Soft Shell Crab Po’ Boys, it was a done deal.
The tiny shop is a little hard to spot from the street but sniffing it out is well worth your trouble.
Inside there’s a handful of stools across the front window where you can eat your goodies but those seats can be hard to get. Especially when it gets busy. A good bet is to get out to one of the many local parks. Weather permitting of course.
The vast majority of the small space is dedicated to food prep and sales. The counter is backed by an open prep kitchen with the main one in the back.
Just a word to the wise. There’s no public bathrooms so you may want to wash up before hand and bring cash ‘cause they don’t take plastic.
So let’s get a look at these goodies.
Let’s start with the flagship. The porchetta sandwich. You can DIY your own with modifiers like Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella and Rapini. The latter being fantastic on porchetta.
This day, on the specials board was a sandwich constructed with Truffle Sauce, (real) parmesan and grainy mustard. This was simply an awesome sandwich. The bread was perfect in that it added some flavour but not a lot. It had enough body to hold together yet not so much as to cause the innards to squish out the back when you bite in. It had great pork taste as well. Bolstered by some cracklin’s which also added some crunch. The parmesan and truffle sauce were more back ground players. What tied the whole thing together is that mustard. It was tasty, tangy and had a little kick.
They offer up a trio of sides from which we selected the Baked Beans. These don’t resemble canned beans too much with hunks of pork and plump beans in a rich sauce. The whole mess is then garnished with cracklin’s. Very tasty although I’d leave the cracklin’s off next time. I didn’t feel they added much and were excellent of their own accord. So much so that Mrs. Sippi tried unsuccessfully to purchase some as a side.
The reason for the visit was the Friday - Saturday special that weekend. The Softshell Crab Po’ Boy. Crabs, as you probably know, have an exoskeleton. The bones don’t grow so need to be shed regularly as the animal grows. A process known as molting in case you didn’t know.
For a brief period the crab has no shell. Such beasts have become a delicacy world wide.
Typically (in NA) they’re deep fried and often served up sandwich style. P&C serves theirs on a Wonderbread style hot dog bun with sriracha mayo, slaw (which she omitted) and prosciutto bits. The crunchy crab shone on this and was nicely complemented by the garnishes. The bun served its purpose perfectly. It was merely a vessel to get from plate to mouth. A superb sandwich.
Well there you have it folks. Some rather decadent foods at a reasonable price.
You can find Porchetta and Company at 825 Dundas Street West in Toronto.
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You can also find them on the web, facebook and Twitter.
So that’s all for now folks. See ya again in the food court.