Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Not your average sandwich

Lately I've been obsessed with sandwiches. Not your ordinary fare: PB&J or a flimsy slice of ham slapped between two pieces of stale bread.

No. I'm talking quality 'wiches, the kind you might find on the menu at 'wichcraft, Tom Colicchio's popular chain of gourmet sandwich shops. My sister and I stopped in there for a quick bite when we were in NYC last fall, and we were both impressed with the quality of their breads, spreads, and ingredient combinations.

I had goat cheese, avocado, celery, walnut pesto and watercress on multigrain bread, while Barb had grilled cheddar, smoked ham, pear & mustard on cranberry-pecan bread. Both amazing, although next time I'd get one of the warm sandwiches.

More recently, I was brunching at Le petit dejeuner with my parents, and rather than go for traditional breakfast fare I chose their Apple and Brie Panino, which featured Mutsu apple, Brie cheese, and Dijon mustard between slices of quality bread, crisped to perfection in a panini press. It got me thinking about making my own gourmet sandwiches at home and I've done up a few in recent days.

One was a sandwich take on my favourite summer salad, the Caprese salad. I took Mozzarella di Bufala and sliced it up with some heirloom tomato, and fresh basil leaves, drizzling over some fruity olive oil and a sprinkling of Maldon salt and pepper on slices of ciabatta bread. To add an extra dimension of flavour, before heating it I laid a few strips of Prosciutto di Parma with the other ingredients.

Eventually I may invest in a panini press but I was easily able to cook the sandwich in my fry pan. I pressed down on the bread with a heavy canister (but you could also just use a spatula or your hands to press the bread down). A couple minutes on each side was all it took to get the mozzarella melting. It was just as good as either of my restaurant gourmet sandwiches, maybe even better!

I also did a Brie and apple sandwich recently, using Ida Red apple instead of Mutsu, and substituting my Double C spicy mustard from Kozlik's. A little extra heat went nicely with the creamy cheese.

Tonight I did more tomato and mozzarella, adding a thick slather of black olive tapenade to my bread before toasting it. As a spread I think I actually prefer it to mustard.

Now that I've rediscovered my love for sandwiches -- good ones -- I imagine I'll keep trying new flavour combos, maybe taking a cue from 'wichcraft, maybe striking out with my own original concoctions.

I notice Bon Appetit has a gallery of their top heated sandwiches -- check them out, they look fantastic.



Email comments to suzannekathrynellis@gmail.com.

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