Editor’s note: He’s ba-aack! Today the hubby (aka Gourmet Omnivore Husband) will be regaling you with tales of sandwich greatness, since he’s the sandwich guy around here.
Along with being one of many words I simply cannot spell correctly the first time I try (calendar, fourth, and discrepancy being others), the sandwich is also a delicious meal. Lauren enjoys a good sandwich, but I am usually the sandwich chef. The sandwich and my family have a long history which probably explains this.
In some ways for me, the time when I started making sandwiches is the time I became an adult. Also, the time I became an old man is when Kids These Days started calling them “sammies”. But I digress.
As a young lad, my family always had lunch meat in the house. Always. My father would make delicious sandwiches for lunch if we asked, and we would occasionally even have sandwiches for dinner. While I was growing up, my dad’s sandwiches were always the best, by far, for two reasons: (1) he used mayo, salt, and pepper, and I was too lazy to use enough of these; and (2) the sandwich-someone-else-makes paradox is well understood.
When I went away to college, and in particular when I moved into my first apartment, I naturally thought that part of “being an adult” was to have sandwich* fixings around the house. Being a Junior Gourmet, rather than simply buying the cheap stuff, I went for Boar’s Head. I don’t know why or how Boar’s Head became the consummate middle-brow moderately up-market sandwich meat, but it did, and its marketing worked on me.
*BTW, I have now spelled it “sandwhich” first, 7 of the 10 times I have written the word.
But when it came down to it, it turned out that when you live alone, or with only one other person who isn’t in love with the sandwich, you really can’t get through a whole deli drawer worth of stuff in a week. So, as adult as it made me feel, I had to become more selective about what I ate.
That doesn’t mean that the sandwich hasn’t played a larger-than-average role in my adulthood. For some reason, I can remember many individual sandwiches I have had over the years. In 2008, I was working on an election issue and was in San Francisco for the day. I decided on the way home to try this place that the Yelp had been raving about: Ike’s Place.** The Forty!?!?, with chicken fried steak, cheddar, and jalapeno poppers, rocked my socks off.
**Their menu, at the time, was on MySpace! Ha!
For a time, I tried imitating Ike’s every so often. We had a pork roast and I sandwichified it. Stuff like that – repurpose a meal that wouldn’t normally be reused as a sandwich, toss it on some Dutch Crunch with a weird mixture of sauces and see what happens.
Another thing sandwiches are good for is breaking up a bike ride. Roberts Market in Woodside, CA was at the intersection of several major road cycling thoroughfares in the Bay Area Peninsula. When you entered Roberts, you were surrounded by the click-clack of cyclists’ shoes over the wooden floor, each of them rushing to the back to grab a number to get a fantastic California BLT (BLT + avocado)… or if you were the GVM, maybe a basil, tomato, and mozzarella sandwich.
Speaking of tomato and mozzarella, I think my assignment was actually to write about a specific sandwich that I just made: a tomato and mozzarella open-faced sandwich with garlic-basil aioli.
This meal was produced in two parts. First, I made the aioli for use with french fries** a few nights previous.
**We even gourmet-ify our frozen french fries around here.
Then, the other day, we needed lunch and I decided to make sandwiches with some stuff we had lying around. I have had an absolute devil of a time finding good bread in Austin. So if anyone knows where I can get a frikkin’ baguette with a properly crispy outside, please let me know. In the meantime, Sweetish Hill bakery will have to do.
In any case, combine a delicious aioli with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes on a good-enough baguette, and you have Classy Sandwich Lunch. I considered eating mine with some generic HEB brand nacho cheese chips, but I didn’t want to get divorced yet.
Tomato and Mozzarella Open-Faced Sandwich with Garlic-Basil Aioli
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 Tbs basil, sliced thin
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 fresh mozzarella balls
good-quality balsamic vinegar
Quick-fry the garlic and basil in some olive oil, and blend with the lemon juice, mustard, and mayo. Let the mixture sit, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes***
The baguette was a day old, so I cut it in half and toasted it (4-5 minutes is enough). Slice your delicious tomatoes and mozzarella, and spread aioli on both sides of the baguette. Layer the tomatoes and mozzarella over the aioli, add a generous dash of balsamic vinegar, and it’s lunch!
***This is good within 30 minutes, but better after a day or two in the fridge.