I recently discovered that August is National Panini Month aka my favorite month ever. Sandwiches and pasta make up my 2 main food groups as I could live off of them and never get bored. Funny story – when my older brother came back from studying abroad in Italy he started calling me panini, for reasons unknown. “What’s a panini???” I asked. “It’s a sandwich.” “Why are you calling me a sandwich?!” After that I was a little distrustful of the panini but that changed once I got to Italy and realized how wonderful they were.
Ok, so technically the sandwiches at Despaña are bocadillos, not paninis, but they’re essentially just the spanish version. I had heard that Despaña made a mean sandwich and had been looking for a reason to go check it out. The store is on Broome between Cleveland and Lafayette in SoHo – close enough for me to walk from my office. Along with their bocadillos, they serve salads, soups, tapas, flautas, etc and sell Spanish cheese and charcuterie. It’s an awesome store. They have free samples out of almost everything they sell and the people who work there are extremely friendly and helpful.
The first bocadillo I tried was their namesake Despaña. It’s made with serrano ham, goat cheese, and a tomato-garlic spread on a ciabatta roll. I thought the sandwich as a whole was pretty good but I had a few complaints. The ciabatta was a bit chewy and could be tough to rip through and the serrano ham didn’t have as much flavor as I had expected. The sandwich was definitely dominated by the goat cheese, which was extra tangy. I love goat cheese but I also like to be able to taste the other things in the sandwich. I guess I’m used to salty prosciutto and that’s why I thought the serrano fell a bit flat. Regardless, I enjoyed the sandwich but I wasn’t totally blown away by it.
Since my first bocadillo wasn’t a huge success I figured I had to go back and try another. This time I went for the Quijote, which was made with lomo embuchado (dry cured pork loin), manchego, and sweet quince spread on a ciabatta. Again, the ciabatta crust was a bit chewy but this sandwich impressed me. It was really delicious. The salty manchego and pork played perfectly against the sweet quince. Salty and sweet things are always a good match. By the end of the sandwich though, the sweet did become a little much but I’m not complaining.
I really like this place and I’d like to try more of their bocadillos and perhaps some of their other offerings. I’ll have to do an updated review once I try more of their food.