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Posts Tagged ‘sandwich’

I’m baaack!

Hi food lovers,

As you can see from the date of my last post, things have been so hectic since the fall that I’m sad to say my own motto of putting food first has fallen by the wayside. Now don’t get me wrong, wonderful meals have been had (I’ll have to do a post on Mother’s Day chicken fricassee), and hours have been spent (over?)analyzing details of taste and texture. But this blog has been sadly neglected despite it making me so happy to do it. Lately I’ve been recognizing how much I’ve missed swapping food stories with you all, so even though the posts might not be as frequent as before, I’m hoping not to let months go by anymore!

Which brings me to the topic which inspired me to hit the keyboard again…SANDWICHES.

April issue of Saveur – yes please!

Justin and I have long fantasized about owning our own little cafe one day. It would be the kind with big, worn wooden tables, thick diner mugs of good coffee, and a stay-all-day kind of attitude. But the star of the show would be sandwiches. A few of our favorites which would definitely make the cut:

  • Flying Saucer Grilled Cheese: A relic of Justin’s childhood, but no adult should miss out. Take your regular grilled cheese fixins, butter up this bad boy…

…and you’ve got yourself the ooeyest, gooiest, circliest sandwich you’ll ever see. Sharp cheddar recommended.

  • Justin’s Special Breakfast Sammy: Wheat bread, fried egg, bacon (real or veggie), all sealed together with your favorite cheese. Sometimes I wake up to this when I’m about to go in for a 12-hour workday, and believe me, it starts the day off right.
  • J&R’s Sandwich Supreme: Fresh bread slathered with pesto, tomatoes, avocado, fresh mozzarella, and lettuce. There are many iterations – add olive tapenade, arugula, roasted red peppers, or just about anything else your little heart desires (today we had rosemary bread). The key is fresh ingredients whenever possible.

So tell me, what are YOUR favorites? Add a comment below to share your sandwich secrets. Who knows, maybe one day they’ll end up on the menu at a new little cafe…

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A big trend right now is taking simple food and elevating it to gourmet status (witness the rise of the designer hamburger, cupcake, etc.). Beyond individual food items, you can see this happening in the recent obsession with upscale street food of all kinds. To see what all the fuss is about, I checked out a couple of hot spots…

When my friend Mara visited town recently, we hit up Gaztro-Wagon, a new sandwich shop on the north side. The proprietor would like to peddle his wares on the street via a food truck, but Chicago currently doesn’t allow them. While he’s waiting to see if his request to change the rules goes through, he’s holed up in a tiny storefront in Edgewater (be warned: this place is literally a hot spot – meaning, no A/C).

Photo by the Chicago Tribune

The chalkboard offered quite a few options, but Mara and I both ordered the lobster roll, which came piled high with plump bits of lobster tucked into warm naan (all the sandwiches here are actually “naan-wiches”). It had a bit too much mayo for my taste, but I may have been spoiled by the lobster rolls I had on my honeymoon in Maine, where the meat was so good there was really no need for dressing. But make no mistake, this was a tasty roll – I loved the thin slice of pickle which layered in an unexpected flavor. With some plantain chips on the side, I was a happy camper. Since I keep reading about the pork shoulder and wild boar belly, I might have to go back soon with husband in tow…

Next up, I finally visited Xoco, the newest addition to the Rick Bayless empire of Mexican dining. I had been meaning to go for months, and my dad and I actually attempted it once but gave up due to the infamous line to get in. This time, my friend Meryl and I braved the wait time and were rewarded with two delicious tortas. Funnily enough, just as you expect bread and get naan at Gaztro-Wagon, here you expect tortillas and get…bread! But not just any bread – picture the perfect baguette, crusty on the outside with a chewy, soft interior. We shared a garlicky mushroom sandwich with goat cheese, arugula, black beans and salsa, and the daily special which paired mixed greens with ricotta. Both were the perfect example of how great ingredients can up the ante of a simple meal. We also contentedly consumed a side of flawless guac and chips and finished up with cinnamon sugar-studded churros dipped in soft serve ice cream. Though the service was lacking (between ordering at the counter and the many runners responsible for bringing the food out, it seems some things get lost in the fast pace), I would love to return in winter for a cup of the famous hot chocolate…and more tortas.

Photo by Serious Eats

Meals like this are a great reminder that food doesn’t have to be unaffordable or served in fancy surroundings to be gourmet!

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