Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sandwiches, Sandwiches, Sandwiches, Eggs, and Sandwiches

We just returned from the annual Sweetheart's Dinner Theater at Wilkes Community College where the Editor in Chief and I celebrated her birthday.  We had a wonderful time.  The culinary department served a prime rib buffet while the drama we were entertained by several singers and three short plays.  We also got to meet several very nice couples.  All in all, It was a very pleasant evening.

During our dinner conversation with the other couples, the subject of New York City came up.  I love New York City.  Being a Native Floridian I naturally consider NYC a second home. Of course with us, any discussion must eventually come back to food, as this one did, so we related Phyllis's first experience with a real Pastrami Sandwich.
One of my all time favorite things to do is to walk down Fifth Avenue.  If you have never done it, put it on your bucket list.  If you live in New York, you probably just take it for granted, but I have never experienced another sidewalk like it in the world - not in London, Moscow, Washington, DC, or Miami.  So Phyllis and I are walking down Fifth Avenue, just enjoying it and being tourists when nature calls.  We ducked into a deli.  A real deli.  This is not the deli counter in your local supermarket, or the local butcher shop with three guys behind the counter.  This is a full fledged Jewish deli with ten guys behind the counter, people shouting back and forth, plates flying awesomeness.  Phyllis ran to the back, the kids grabbed a table and I placed an order: half a pastrami and swiss on rye.

Katz's Delicatessen

You may be asking, "Half a sandwich?"

Oh yes, have you ever seen a real sandwich? A real New York deli sandwich?  There is nothing in the world like a true Fifth Avenue Deli sandwich.  3 inches of thick Hot Pastrami Heaven.

This experience led me to building a system of defining sandwiches, these aren't recipes for individual sandwiches, but types of sandwiches.

Miss Birdie

This is my lowest ranking.  This comes from the book, The Rainmaker, by John Grisham.

"...A sandwich to Miss Birdie is a transparent slice of processed turkey between two thin slices of no-fat white bread.  Not a drop of mustard or mayo.  No thought of lettuce or cheese.  It would take four to knock off the slightest of hunger pains."(1)

The Squish

Any white bread sandwich that has gotten too moist for its own good, and then been wrapped up air tight becomes a squish.  This almost always happens to egg salad, or worse yet, scrambled egg sandwiches.  (I used to hate it when I'd get a scrambled egg sandwich for lunch, yet I have subjected my children to them, did I learn nothing as a child?)  The main problem with a squish is the effect that the moisture has on the bread.

Sometimes, leftover steak would be sent for lunch in a sandwich with two results: instant squish and the steak would come flying out of the bread because you couldn't cut it.  There is a solution.  Use good Italian bread and Cross cut both sides of the steak almost all the way though before placing on the bread.  Add a little oil and vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper.  Your kids will think you are the best parents, ever (or at least for the next five minutes).

Just Barely A Sandwich

Just Barely...

Oh Thank Heaven?  Really?
This is just what it claims to be, just barely a sandwich.  It is sufficient to be edible, but not much else.  I generally need two of these, a piece of fruit, maybe some chips and a drink.  It consists of at least 3 ounces of protein (which may or may not include cheese), and a flavoring (mayo, mustard, or ketchup).  If you've ever gotten one of those prepackaged sandwiches at the 7-Eleven, you've had "Just barely had a sandwich."

This is OK.  It tastes good. but not write home to Mom good.  It only takes one.  The bread isn't mushy, and probably isn't white bread.  There's some flavor here, but nothing spectacular.  There are no fresh vegetables on the sandwich.  You may have even had this with a completely forgettable bowl of soup.  When asked later in the day what you had for lunch, you'll be hard pressed to remember, but that's ok because it was nothing special.


The quality of the ingredients and the preparation brings this sandwich out of the ordinary, into the extraordinary.  You could expect to find this at Subway on a very good day, Blimpie occasionally, Jersey Mike's frequently, and John Smith's subs consistently.

  • Meat:  the meat is fresh, and there is a good amount of it
  • Cheese: It is a good quality cheese, if it's pre-sliced, it's a good brand.
  • Vegetables:  Fresh and crisp
  • Bread:  A good quality bread, possibly bakery quality.

    Like, Wow!

    These are the kinds of sandwiches you hear Guy Fieri talk about on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.  Spectacular sandwiches.  One of kind things that give cities reputations:
    • Miami and Cuban Sandwiches
    • New Orleans and Muffalettas

    • Philadelphia and Cheesesteaks

    • Chicago and Italian Beef

      But none of them compare to...

      The Fifth Avenue
      • Really good bread, freshly baked - the type you could eat without butter.
      • Cheese, that cows boast to other cows about.  
      • Meat, freshly sliced and tender, juicy, lean - yes, but with enough fat to have flavor, and enough of it to really stack up high - at least 2 or more inches

      • Good condiments - horseradish mustard, basil aioli, aged balsamic vinaigrette, fresh spices.  

        But sometime there can be too much of a good thing..

        The Dagwood
        A Dagwood sandwich is a tall, multi-layered sandwich made with a variety of meats, cheeses and condiments. It was named after Dagwood Bumstead, a central character in the comic strip Blondie, who is frequently illustrated making enormous sandwiches.  Though the actual contents of Chic Young's Dagwood sandwich remain obscure, it obviously contains large quantities and varieties of cold cuts, sliced cheese and vegetables, plus additional slices of bread. An olive pierced by a toothpick or wooden skewer usually crowns the edible superstructure. "Dagwood sandwich" has been included in Webster's New World Dictionary, and "Dagwood" (referring to the sandwich) has been included in the American Heritage Dictionary.(2)

        So what's my favorite sandwich?

        I've said it before, I'll say it again, I'm a simple person with simple tastes. Less is more.

        Grilled Cheese


        • 2 slices hearty sourdough
        • 2 ounces smoked gouda (substitute cheddar if gouda is unavailable)
        • 2 ounces cheddar cheese
        • 4 teaspoons butter


        • Place a cast iron skillet over medium high heat (don't use a non-stick skillet, we're going to be toasting)
        • Spread 1 teaspoon butter over one side of one slice of bread.
        • Melt one teaspoon of butter in skillet.  Place bread in in skillet, butter side down.
        • Lay cheese on bread.
        • Spread 1 teaspoon butter over one side of remaining slice of bread.
        • Place bread, butter side up on cheese.
        • After 90 seconds, or when golden brown, add teaspoon of butter to skillet and flip sandwich.
        • After 60 seconds, or when golden brown, remove from skillet.

        Grilled Cheese?  Really?  Yup, it's one of my favorites. And today, it's the only recipe.  But look at all of the great ideas above.  Come up with some recipes of your own.  Make something fun tonight.

        Thanks for sticking with today's blog.  I hope you had a great Valentine's day.  Until next time, I wish you Peace, Love, and Hollandaise Sauce!

        (1) The Rainmaker, Copyright 1995 John Grisham
        (2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dagwood_sandwich

        1 comment:

        Judybelle said...

        Please excuse me. I have to go hop on s plane to Fifth Avenue. ;-)