Friday, January 6, 2012

The Conclusive List of Wonderful Sandwiches

I am not, nor have I ever been, a sandwich person. Sandwiches fall apart. Sandwiches get mushy. Sandwiches contain cold cuts, & I dislike cold cuts. Sandwiches contain condiments, & I dislike condiments.

But every once in awhile, a great sandwich comes along – a sandwich so tasty that not even a sandwich-hater like me can deny its delicious allure. Here, friends, in no particular order, are the Top Five Greatest Sandwiches Of My Life:
  • Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwich
    Wolfgang Puck Express at the Washington, D.C. Convention Center
    I’m going to be embarrassingly honest with you here: I don’t even remember what made this sandwich was so good. All I know is that as I ate it, I proclaimed aloud to my mother, “This is the best sandwich I’ve ever had in my entire life,” & it's held that title - or tied for it - for a solid five years. Despite my poor memory, it makes the list based on the lasting impression it made.

  • Pesto Veggie Panini
    Me & Ollie’s in Portsmouth, N.H.
    This simple sandwich is simply delicious. It’s made with basil pesto, sundried tomato mayo, tomato, red pepper, alfalfa sprouts, red onions & melted provolone on Me & Ollie’s homemade sourdough, served with pretzels on the side. I don’t even like vegetables, but I love this sandwich.

  • Chorizo & Potato Grilled Cheese
    Melt Bar & Grilled in Cleveland, OH
    Calling this behemoth a grilled cheese is like calling the Titanic a boat: technically true, but there’s so much more to it! Melt specializes in gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, & their chorizo & potato creation is, hands down, my favorite. It’s also too tall for me to bite into. Every go-round with this sandwich results in my needing to nap immediately.

  • Breakfast Panini
    Popovers in Portsmouth, N.H.
    This sucker is definitely not just for breakfast! With applewood bacon, tomato, pesto, & fresh mozzarella on rosemary focaccia , it doesn’t sound like anything special, but it’s pressed so thinly that it’s like it’s gift-wrapped. Gift-wrapped bacon! It comes with a side of fresh cut melons & berries to help allay some of my bacon-induced guilt.

  • Cheddar Dill Tuna Salad Sandwich
    Totally Cooked To-Go, Cuyahoga Falls, OH
    What? A simple tuna salad sandwich? Yes. And no. This tuna salad sandwich is the tuna salad sandwich to end all tuna salad sandwiches. (How many more times can I say that phrase?) I used to call Totally Cooked before coming in to be sure it was on their menu for the day before coming in because if I arrived & it wasn’t, the disappointment was, obviously, debilitating.

Runner up: My very own Big-Kid Grilled Cheese: muenster, goat cheese, baby spinach, crumbled walnuts & a smear of fig jam on ciabatta & pressed in my George Foreman, panini-style. It felt unfair to list this among my top five, as I made it myself. Still… it’s delicious.

There you have it. The Best Sandwiches, period. What are yours?

New England Eats

I've made no secret of the fact that sometimes New England feels like a foreign land to me. What with the accents & the unspoken driving rules, I'm a fish out of Midwestern waters here sometimes.

We've already discussed the fact that New Englanders refer to milkshakes as "frappes" & that I'm not a fan of the top-loading hot dogs buns popular here.

  • Lobster rolls
    This one is a gimme. Maine is, hands down, the country's premier destination for lobster lovers, & lobster rolls are one of the most delicious ways to consume this popular crustacean. Lobster rolls are buttery grilled hot dog rolls (not the typical weird New England kind) filled with a cold lobster salad concoction of tail, claw & knuckle meat & mayo. Did you know that some New England McDonald's even sell a seasonal McLobster Roll? Not a joke.

  • Anadama bread
    Made of cornmeal & molasses, this bread is a New England staple I've yet to see elsewhere in the country. I've never tried it, mostly because it sounds heavy & because the only place where I ever order toast (incidentally named The Friendly Toast) has such good cayenne-cheddar bread that I'd never dream of ordering anything different.

  • Whoopie pies
    Apparently Maine & Pennsylvania are duking it out over who "owns" whoopie pies. Legislators in Maine voted it the state's official treat last March, much to the dismay of Keystone State residents, who call these sweet treats "gobs" & contend that the dessert's origins come from the Pennsylvania Dutch. Regardless, believe me on this one: New England loves its whoopie pies. No complaints here!

  • Baked beans
    When ordering brunch in New England, your options are usually hash browns or baked beans. Say what? I love me some baked beans, I'd just never have thought to eat them from breakfast. Cookouts, yes, brunch no. But I guess it's not totally crazy: Why do you think Boston is called Beantown?!

  • Roast beef
    I can't find any Internet proof of this craze other than the fact that a Google search for "New England roast beef" brings up pages & pages of sandwich joints that specialize in roast beef, which I'd never heard of before moving here, aside from Arby's. I can think of at least three roast beef shops in Portsmouth alone.

  • Popovers
    A cross between a croissant & a custard, popovers are hollow, muffin-shaped pastry puffs that are crusty on the outside (in a good way) with a gooier, egg-like texture on the inside. They're great with jam & even better in soup, but I'd never heard of them before moving here.

By the way, Wikipedia tells me that Portsmouth is famous for its orange cake, which is not something I've seen anywhere. It's a shame, too, because, hey, that sounds kind of delicious.

So tell me: What foods are unique to your neck of the woods?
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