Tag Archives: Sandwiches

Halloween Sammies for DIY Challenged Ghouls & Guys

When the spookiest of holiday seasons calls for crafting, I feel the need to take the nearest glue gun and put myself out of my own misery. The truth is, I lack the patience (and the aptitude) for most DIY projects, so I content myself with admiring the crafty bug in those far more talented. By that, I mean everyone.

While researching Halloween sandwich themes for this post, I stumbled upon some true artists, some pretty crafty DIY’ers, and, my favorite people, the genuinely lazy.  With that in mind, I hope you’ll find something here for whatever creative sandwich level you currently inhabit, or aspire to.

Next-Level Edible Monster Art 

Nuts 'Feratu
Nuts ‘Feratu, created with almond butter, among other things. Photo courtesy of Sandwich Monsters.

So much for grilled cheese jack o’ lanterns! Kasia Haupt Canning creates insane sandwich “monsters” out of anything edible, and somehow makes her painstakingly detailed creations look both achievable (maybe??) and delicious.

Check out the Sandwich Monsters blog and behold her monster gallery, including scary characters like Pickle Rick, Nuts’Feratu (pictured above), Shark ‘A ‘Snack and many more.

While you probably won’t take the time to burn baguettes to create your own monster “hair,” you’ll be sure to find some serious #sammyinspo for Halloween and beyond.

A Snake Sammy to Charm a Crowd

The Snakewich from Taste of Home
The Snakewich recipe will get your Halloween party moving. Photo and recipe courtesy of Taste of Home.

Who doesn’t love a Halloween party? Whether your Monster Mash is at the office or just in the ‘hood, it can be fun to see everyone’s devilish side. Who knew Deb from Accounting was a dead ringer for Elvira?

If you need help feeding a crowd of ravenous zombies, this slithery snake sammy and the accompanying kicky (but not too spicy) “Dragon Sauce” from the blog Taste of Home is sure to please your party animals. Check out the recipe here.

Mummy Likey

Photo and recipe courtesy of Eats Amazing.
These cute Mummy Kebabs are versatile and easy. Photo and recipe courtesy of Eats Amazing.

This idea is fun, relatively easy, and provides so many options with different filling and bread combos. Simply chop, slice and assemble sammy fixins’, thread everything together with a toothpick, attach mummy eyes, and you’re good to go.

For my fellow craft-challenged friends, Eats Amazing even provides an idiot-proof Youtube tutorial. Just make sure you don’t choose fillings that are too droopy or messy or that don’t take well to being poked.

Ghoul-Proof

Spider Sammies
These creepy crawlers can be modified for whatever you’re into! Photo and recipe courtesy of Parents.

This one is for my homies, the people who can’t be bothered with anything elaborate. These scary spiders can be easily modified using ingredients from deli meats to spreads like almond butter and jelly. There’s a reason it’s a classic! You can get this ham ‘n cheese example from Parents here.

What about you, ghouls and guys? Do you have a go-to Halloween sammy that I haven’t covered? Share it with me in the comments below.

Have a safe and spooky Halloween, sandwich lovers!

Sources: Sandwich Monsters, Eats Amazing, Taste of Home, Parents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eulogy For a Sandwich. RIP Paseo.

Paseo Sammy
From the Paseo website.

Editor’s Update: Un Bien, open in Ballard June, 2015, is the love child of Julian and Lucas Lorenzo, sons of the former owner of Paseo, Lorenzo Lorenzo. Check it out and decide for yourself if they capture that old Paseo magic. It works for me!

Un Bien, 7302 15th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98117, (206) 588-2040
Open Wednesday to Sunday from 11 – 8 for lunch and dinner

The Seattle sandwich world was rocked yesterday by news that Paseo, a veritable institution of Caribbean delicacies and a permanent fixture for foodies for the last 21 years, had suddenly shuttered both their Fremont and Ballard locations.

The news first broke on local website Seattle Eater. As it quickly went viral, stunned wails of “Why, God. WHY?” could be heard throughout the I-5 corridor. The story was front-page news in the Seattle Times, and reported heavily by other local media.

In fact, the public outcry was so great, a memorial of sorts has sprung up in front of the Fremont outpost, with diners coming to pay their last respects to arguably the best Cuban sandwiches available this side of Miami.

Paseo even had a national following. It was voted Number Two in Yelp’s 2014 national poll of 100 must-try foods in the U.S., and was written up in Esquire,  and Bon Appetit, among others.

Although reasons for the sudden closure are somewhat murky, it’s become apparent that the restaurant’s owners had several issues managing their business, including a labor dispute over payment of its employees.

Due to their already huge following and consistently long lines, I never even bothered to review Paseo for Seatown. Everyone already loves (sob, loved) it. In truth, I’d like to think I was saving it up, not feeling like sharing the ecstasy that is the Caribbean Roast with the world at large, but wanting to keep a bit of it for myself.

So let this be yet another sandwich-related life lesson for you. Don’t put off the sandwiches you could be enjoying today. Make it a priority to grab life by the baguette and dig in. Herewith, I give you my posthumous review of the best damn sandwich you’ll never get to enjoy again:

Let’s start with what Paseo did best: meat. And by meat, I mean pork. Whether it was the tenderly roasted shoulder or the succulent cubed loin, that stuff was decadently juicy from Paseo’s secret-recipe  marinade, and mouth-watering enough to be a delicious meal in itself.

Both the Grilled Pork and the Caribbean Roast “signature” sandwich came piled high with protein. These sandwiches were definitely knife-and-fork worthy, but somehow I was always able to break my “no sandwiches bigger than my head” rule. I like to tell myself that they were simply too messy to share, but that would be a lie. I wanted that sandwich all to myself.

Much like no man is an island, no sandwich is worth anything unless it’s served on amazing bread. Paseo piled their meat on perfectly toasted baguettes. I’m not sure where the bread came from (did they make it in-house? I guess we’ll never know…) but it was always fresh, and perfectly, consistently toasted. Crunchy on the outside with a luscious interior perfect for soaking up the sauce within, it was never soggy.

Adding what could almost be considered insult to injury, these mile-high sammies were topped off with lettuce (satisfying crunchy romaine that could on occasion become soggy and maybe a little superfluous), pickled jalapenos (critical to the overall flavor profile and in no way overly hot), gorgeously caramelized onions, and the coup de grace, a slathering of garlic aioli so delicious, people would stand in line for upwards of an hour just for a taste. Paseo didn’t offer extra sauce to go. Believe me, I tried.

Now that I have clarity, I realize that there were other, somewhat lesser, sandwiches on the Paseo menu. Chicken. Fish. Scallops. Even one with tofu. My vegetarian friends were huge fans of the Shrimp. Me, I never tried anything but the pork. Why? When perfection is (sorry, was) already right there, one doesn’t need to look elsewhere. Until today.

Vaya con dios, Paseo, you’ll be sorely missed.

Sammies Squared

Where the magic happens.
Where the magic happens.

Itching for a new sandwich venue, I suggested Rain Shadow Meats Squared, a butcher-shop-cum-sandwich-eatery in Pioneer Square.

This latest foray by the owners of the original Rain Shadow Meats, located in that trendy foodie mecca known as Melrose Market in Capitol Hill (home to cheese shoppe The Calf and Kid, oyster outlet Taylor Shellfish Farms, and Matt Dillon’s amazing farm-to-table restaurant, Sitka & Spruce, among others) has been a bright spot in the burgeoning food scene happening in Pioneer Square, and a relief to the folks who work nearby who enjoy good food but might not have time for an elaborate lunch.

When Rain Shadow opened, I worked near the Pioneer Square location, but my job never allowed for the time to head down there, so I decided to save it up. The hubs, who is finally enjoying working Square adjacent now that so many interesting food and drink places have made the neighborhood their new home, had of course already been, and declared it “meh,” but, giving in to my love of the sandwich arts, he acquiesced.

Rain Shadow Meats Counter
Score a spot and watch the sandwich makers in action.

When we arrived I was cheered by the hand-written request outside the door to take a menu and hop in line. I do love an orderly system. The decor is spare brick and concrete with gleaming glass butcher cases full of delectable looking meat products, as well as shelves of accompanying condiments that tempt you while you wait to order.

Around noon the spot was hopping busy, but the line moved quickly. There’s a marble counter in the back with about five stools overlooking the kitchen, if you’re lucky enough to grab a spot you can watch the action. Sadly, were not.

Hungry as usual, we decided to each get a full sandwich of our own and share. Being a roast-beef lover, I opted for the Romesco: chevre, house-made beef, arugula, goat cheese, and of course, that wonderful spicy sauce.

jwaiting.jpg
Enjoying a refreshing celery soda and checkin’ out the meat!

The hubs went with my second favorite-sounding option, the Rain Shadow Press, a combination of homemade mortadella (is there anything they don’t make here?), roast beef, sopprasata, Mama Lil’s peppers, provolone, cucumber and arugula, all served panini-style on ciabatta.

Given our newfound love of fermented beverages (I’m talkin’ to you, kombucha) we decided to accompany our meal with an intriguing-sounding celery soda. Effervescent and vegetal, it turned out to be a perfectly tangy accompaniment to all that rich meat and cheese.

After ordering, we were given a number and found a couple of open seats at a communal table, only to be quickly whisked away to a just-opened two-top by a very efficient server, who astutely observed that we were feeling a little hemmed in. Our sandwiches arrived quickly, and they were a pleasure to behold.

Romesco Sandwich
The Romesco: a saucy meat and cheese delight.

Starting with mine, I enjoyed that although the Romesco’s flavors were huge, the sandwich was decently, even delicately, proportioned. I particularly loved the use of goat cheese accompanied with the nuttiness of the romesco sauce, and thought the roast beef was beyond delicious. My only (minor) complaint would be the baguette. While it was perfectly toasted, that made it a little too pointy and pokey.

Rain Shadow Press
The Rain Shadow Press: a beautifully appointed panini.

Moving on to the Rain Shadow Press, the ciabatta was a whole lot softer, and the flavors of the mortadella, provolone, and beef blended perfectly. Overall, I thought it was delicious, and at $12 per sandwich, we felt we got our money’s worth. I will definitely be back to try the Parisian (three words: double-smoked ham) and the Morty: house-made mortadella, provolone, olive tapenade and Mama Lil’s pepper again on (yes!) sourdough.

romescopress.jpg
I can’t wait to come back!

Rain Shadow even serves a couple of french inspired sandwiches the traditional way, avec butter. Although I’ve previously noted that adding butter to a sandwich is one of my biggest personal pet peeves, it is a new year, which might make this the time to come out of the shadows and start enjoying new sandwich styles. I am all for getting my mind changed.

Rain Shadow Meats Squared
404 Occidental Avenue South
(between King & Jackson)
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 467-4854
Mon – Fri 11am – 6pm
Sat – Sun 11am – 5pm

Honey Ain’t Always Sweet

Honey Hole SignOne of the best parts of living in Seattle is that if you happen to be a bit of a lazypuss like myself, and you already live in a pretty good neighborhood, like I like to think I do, you’re really not required to travel much. Add our lousy traffic and complicated topography filled with bridges and water at every turn, and leaving one’s cozy little hamlet begins to seem less and less attractive. Which is why you can easily say things like, “Capitol Hill, I haven’t been there in months.” And it will be true.

I used to live on Capitol Hill. A hundred years ago I might even have passed as a hipster. Probably not, but I’d like to think so. I definitely had little black glasses and wore lots of plaid. Today, venturing there usually means I’m having dinner or drinks with other middle-aged folks. We have confirmed reservations, we’re probably paying for parking, and we’re all safely tucked into our beds by midnight.

Promising not to be lame in the pursuit of sandwich perfection, I decided to venture out of my comfort zone to the Hill for what had been described as a delicious sandwich experience: the Honey Hole. I do love the name, and the menu promised some great looking stuff. Cleverly named sandwiches like The Corleone (Painted Hills pastrami, sauerkraut, swiss) and the Buford T. Justice (pulled pork, house-made bbq sauce, coleslaw) successfully beckoned me forward.

ChachiOnce “in the club”, so to speak, I decided it was my duty as a die-hard Scott Baio fan to hone in on Chachi’s Favorite. I was excited about the ranch sauce, as well as the natural turkey breast roasted in-house.

Truth be told, I was pretty disappointed by a few things. First, the ambiance of Honey Hole. I get that you’re a divey Capitol Hill space and that’s your jam, but I’m just going to say, you are not very clean. Sticky floors, dirty tables, and the restroom scared me. If I see stuff like that in the front of the house, I’m very much wondering what’s going on behind the counter.

Second, my friend and I seemed to get an extra side of attitude with our sandwiches that I don’t recall ordering. This is not a coffee shop. You are not a barista. You sling sandwiches for a living, and while I’m sure you’re much wittier, smarter and more erudite than your current gig would lead us to believe, all you really have to do with sandwiches is get the order right and try to be nice. Easy!

Chachi's FavoriteSadly, my biggest issue with the Hole was with the sandwich itself. It’s kind of odd to heat up chunks of white-meat turkey breast with a bunch of white sauce and serve the whole thing with white cheese on white bread. If you’re going to do that, at least make the mixture more of a “salad” situation, throw in some celery, onion, black pepper, pickles?  It desperately needed something to jazz it up. The ranch – which I think I already mentioned I was so excited for – had no tang or kick to it at all. This is a crime.

All in all, it wasn’t horrible, but it also wasn’t great. I’ll definitely give it another try, because I’m hoping this visit was just an odd combo of ordering the wrong thing and a grumpy staff day. Honey, you probably deserve a second look.

The Panini Paradox

In early November I had the pleasure of traveling in Italy for twelve days. Having never before been to the land of the Tuscan sun, suffice to say I had high expectations and some distinct ideas of what I thought my Italian Experience would encompass. I was especially looking forward to trying the food and the wine. Who doesn’t like Italian food, and Italian wine? Nobody, that’s who.

ItalianDeliBeing a self-styled sandwich expert, I figured I could also contribute to the blog while traveling, in a win-win fashion. Italy had so much to offer me as a newbie traveler: ancient sites dripping with history, museums filled with masterpieces, beautiful architecture, an endless fashion parade full of beautiful people. Every day was a new adventure, and the food was indeed wonderful, and the wine was just plain crazeballs.

Unfortunately, regarding the sandwiches, I ran into something I have dubbed the “Panini Paradox”.

It goes like this. Italians love to eat. A lot. They want you to order course after course and look at you quizzically when you attempt to just stick with one or two items, or perhaps (gasp) share an entree. If you don’t finish every morsel, they literally come over and ask if you don’t like their cooking, staring at you with their hurt, huge kitten eyes. Most of the food in the regions I went to was locally sourced, lovingly prepared, and completely delicious. With the notable exception of one thing, which I’m sure you have guessed by now, the damned sandwiches.

ItalianPaniniThe PP is particularly frustrating when you’re visiting a region renowned for its perfect ingredients,  Tuscany, for example. You could just imagine a bit of fresh buffalo mozzarella, a locally grown ripe tomato, and a small amount of pesto on a fresh baguette. What you will get, however, is a tiny, stale roll with a bit of over-the-hill prosciutto and (gag) butter. Indeed, these evil little sandwiches appeared in every espresso shop, Auto Stop, train station and even the finer cafes. They are a blight and a menace.

Where were the good sandwiches? You will have to go there and let me know, because believe me, I tried to find them. I did visit one wonderful place in Siena where the sandwiches were all thoughtful varieties of meats and cheese toasted to perfection on pretzel bread and served on super-cute individual bread boards. This was the one and only good sandwich during my entire visit.

I heard rumors of others. A local foodie pointed me to the tripe sandwich at the Farmer’s Market in Florence. He told us it was not to be missed. We were there the wrong day and missed it. Cafes and restaurants promised beautiful plates, but offered lame cold cuts on (every single time) stale bread. This was the land that invented meats and cheeses of the traditional Italian deli. We even went to Bologna! What gives?

In conclusion, Italy is fantastico. Go for the art, the culture, the wine, and the beauty. Just don’t go for the sandwiches. Or better yet, go there and open the best deli ever, you’ll have all the ingredients close at hand, making my next visit complete.

Appraising Adam, with All Due Respect

Let me begin by saying that I liked Adam Richman before liking Adam Richman was cool. I’m not certain at all whether it is cool to this day, because that’s how uncool I am, but I do find Adam likable. I used to eagerly watch his show Man Versus Food Nation not for its sort of dumb eating challenges that were pretty disgusting and seemed to make even Adam cringe a bit, but for his witty banter with popular regional food purveyors. He was respectful, he could be funny without being obnoxious, he was a super cute teddy bear of a guy from Brooklyn and the kind of person it would be fun to grab a bite with, thumb ring aside.

Then came the re-boot of his show, in which Adam traveled to different cities, met said purveyors, hung out in their kitchens as they did their thing, then had some shmo end up doing the food challenge. I’m not sure if Adam got tired, got sick, or was just over it, but the formula of the new show just didn’t work. Who cares if some random guy can or can’t eat 27 hot dogs? So, the re-boot was booted.

Finally, Adam 2.0, in what I can only hope was his original idea: Best Sandwich in America. The concept: travel the country sampling the most popular sandwiches from ten US regions, run them through something called the “BITE Scale”™ (B – Bread; I – Interior; T – Taste; E – Experience), then pit them against each other in a sandwich death match in which there can be only one national champion–a sandwich “to rule them all”.

First problem, pitting regional specialties against each other is like asking the Seattle Sounders play the New York Yankees. Yes, they are both games played with balls. But an oyster po’ boy should never, ever, be compared to a tuna on rye. They are two different food concepts in terms of ingredients, execution, and taste. It’s insulting to the makers of these gifts to compare them. Would you compare the Mona Lisa to Munch’s Scream? You would not.

Another instance where I take issue with Adam’s shows is that I can’t figure out who exactly encompasses the Richman demographic. I can only gather that it’s young college dudes and huge stoners, because never have I seen larger, more gloppy, giant sandwiches. The one smothered with a layer of french fries really stood out. Attention Food Network: not everything has to be huge all the time. Wouldn’t it be nice to show a normal-sized sandwich served with fresh ingredients, maybe even…vegetables? Roasted pork with broccoli rabe and giardinere doesn’t count (although that was my favorite, and coincidentally – spoiler alert! – the winner of the competition).

What’s still good about any  show with Adam is Adam himself, his easygoing repartee with chefs and patrons and his enthusiastic introduction of these passionate artists to the world. I will definitely seek out almost every sandwich on his list when traveling (splitting it with a partner, hopefully), just to see what all the fuss is about and to meet characters who have in many cases devoted their lives to doing one thing really well.

Which brings me to Adam 3.0. Not for nothing Adam, simply an idea for the future. Try not to make it a competition about who’s bigger, better, etc. Travel around, meet great chefs, and talk about the infinite variety of delicious food we have everywhere in this country. Keep focusing on local dishes that make people rhapsodize and wait in line for hours. Take a page from your chef friends: do one thing really well. And for the love of god, man, lose the thumb ring already.

5 Surefire Ways to Ruin a Perfectly Good Sandwich

As a highly experienced sandwich eater, I’ll admit I’ve developed my own set of tastes and proclivities. I also freely admit that I require a fair amount of maintenance to make certain my experience will be enjoyable. That’s why it’s an extra-big bummer when I do try something new, only to find myself thwarted by one of these culprits. I know these pet peeves are particular to me, so please, add your own list of irritations, I’d love to see!

1. Too Much “Stuff”

Yes, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Although I like a big sammie as much as the next gal, some places get really out of control with the size, height and width of their sandwiches, making the entire experience a challenge in eating. Don’t make eating your food difficult, it’s counter-intuitive. Related side note: offering a half-sandwich option encourages people who would rather not take an afternoon nap to try your products, and gives people a fun option that I call “sharesies”, i.e. getting a couple of sandwiches and splitting them.

2. Stale Bread

You would be very surprised by the number of places in our foodie, upscale town that serve their sandwiches on bread so stale, it makes cardboard blush. I refuse to name names here, but come on, there’s really no excuse. It’s one of your main ingredients, so make sure it’s fresh.

3. Soggy Bread

Don’t let your sandwiches get soggy, there is nothing grosser than a soggy sandwich, except maybe soggy lettuce on a soggy sandwich. Usually the result of too many condiments, or a sandwich made earlier that’s been sitting out. Or possibly, bread that can’t stand up to a sauce. In any case, don’t let it happen. Keep it crisp, people.

4. Discourteous Staff

I get it, you went to Cornish on a dance scholarship, and now you work at a cafe slinging sandwiches. It’s time to get over your broken dreams, embrace a new path, and treat customers with a little respect. You might even get a little extra spending money in ye olde tip jar. Owners, this goes for you, too. Yes, running a small business is a ton of work and totally stressful, but treat your employees well and I promise it will reflect on the overall experience. You own a repeat business and have a chance to create a loyal customer base. Don’t blow it!

5. Butter

Last but not least, the grossest thing you can do to any cold sandwich is add butter. I believe this style originated with the French on baguettes, but I’ve seen it other places, and it’s disgusting. Do you know who likes French stuff? Nobody, that’s who.

I could go on all day here, from chaotic lines/ordering systems to dirty bathrooms to having to wait forever, but I’ll save those for another day. In the meantime, I hope you’ll add your comments and enlighten me with your thoughts.