Monday, March 30, 2015

Sandwich Hall of Fame

WARNING: Don't go any further if you're on a diet!

LUCY BURDETTE: Gosh there’s been so much bad and scary news in the world, that I’ve had trouble thinking of something we might blog about. The one thing that kept sticking in my head is a sandwich I ate last week—as research, of course. I hadn’t intended to order a mango-jalapeno hot dog at Garbo’s Grill. We went for the shrimp burrito and the fish tacos. But while we were waiting to order, I saw a dog getting carried off—wrapped in bacon, layered with ripe yellow mango, and green peppers, and zig-zagged with the food truck’s special Caribbean sauce. “Hayley Snow would insist on trying that,” I told John, and he agreed. And so we ordered it too.

I’ve had a lot of good sandwiches in my life—Cuban mix in Key West, North Carolina barbecue with Molly Weston, meatball hoagies from my home town deli in New Jersey, to name a few—but this dog went right into the sandwich Hall of Fame. So Reds, if you could nominate one sandwich for that honor, what would it be? and do you remember where and when you ate it? 

RHYS BOWEN: I'm not a fan of the huge, thick, multi-item sandwich that won't fit in my mouth and usually ends up down my front. But I do love bruschetta. And Barbara Peters introduced me to the best bruschetta I have ever tasted at Postino's in Phoenix. You choose your toppings from a long list: mine always include the hot artichoke spread, the smoked salmon, the brie, apple and fig jam and the sheep's cheese with tomato jam. The bread is fabulous (and so is the gluten free bread they serve) and the plate is just right for sharing. My perfect mid-day meal with a friend.

HALLIE EPHRON: OMG Rhys that sounds fabulous. I'll BE in Phoenix April 14 and I'm going to have to get over there.

I confess to quotidian sandwich favorites: a really good hot dog slathered in mustard and loaded down with sauerkraut; multigrain toast with Peter Pan peanut butter and real (seeded) raspberry jam; a BLT (fresh tomatoes, lots of mayo, Oscar Mayer bacon crisp crisp crisp) on white toast. I often eat an open-faced breakfast sandwich: multigrain toast, whipped cream cheese, and smoked trout. 

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I'm going to represent Maine with the best sandwich of all, the lobster roll. It may also be the simplest: chunks o' boiled lobster meat, a little mayo, and a fluffy white hot dog bun. The thing that makes a lobster roll great, though, isn't just the ingredients. Sure, anytime you can eat a quarter or half pound of lobster without having to deal with claw crackers and drippy salt water is great. But the fourth secret ingredient is the Maine coast. You should always eat a lobster roll in summer, preferably on a sunny day, in sight of the gray rocks and blue water of the Atlantic. Weathered docks leading to boats moored along the Androscoggin or Kennebec rivers can be substituted for the coast, if necessary.

Red's in Wiscasset is widely acclaimed to have the best lobster rolls in Maine, but my favorite is The Lobster Shack at Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth. Bundle up, because the wind blowing across the picnic tables comes straight off the Gulf of Maine. Admire the light house that inspired Edward Hopper and the great tumbled rocks that inspired Winslow Homer, while eating one-handed (the other hand is to fend off the gulls.)

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I'm a BLT girl, through and through.  Basic BLT, B, L, T, and mayo, on white toast. Now, add avocado. YUM. Add turkey. Yum. Wait, that makes me a club sandwich girl. Another special treat (i'm easy to please) is turkey and cheddar and l/t with honey mustard on whole grain. That is perfect. OH! Tuna salad! With tomatoes, on pumpernickel toast. Ah. Sandwiches. A very sweet way to count blessings when the world is so sad right now. 

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I'm not much of a sandwich girl. In fact, I'm famous (on infamous) in my family for picking sandwiches apart--tearing off chunks of bread to get to the good stuff. But, like Rhys, I adore bruschetta, especially made on very holey ciabatta. Yum. And I do like a really good BLT. I'll add avocado, but, Hank, leave off the turkey! It spoils the whole crispy bacon/juicy tomato thing. And Julia, I've never had a lobster roll, but I don't think it would take much to win me over! 

Reds, would you like to nominate a sandwich in your life to the sandwich Hall of Fame?


  1. Susan, the East Village explosion is right at the top of the news every day, so we’ve been following the story since the explosion occurred. So sorry for your friends and all that they’ve lost, but it’s such wonderful news that they were away when it happened; I’m glad that they are safe.

    I am really picky when it comes to sandwiches. I tend to deconstruct them if we are out . . . my “sandwich mantra” is that salad has no place on a sandwich, so the lettuce and tomato have to go. And then I want really nice bread . . . . Although I particularly enjoy peanut butter and chocolate spread on rye toast, I guess I’d have to choose grilled cheese and bacon as my nomination to the Sandwich Hall of Fame. I always make mine with a combination of cheeses such as sharp cheddar, provolone, and Swiss and lots of bacon. But Julia’s lobster roll is also my idea of a perfect sandwich, though I must admit to never having eaten one in Maine. Nevertheless, it is one of the best things of summer . . . .

  2. Yes, I keep seeing pictures of that East Village fire and it is so haunting … It is heartbreaking. I am heading to Susan's fundraising page!

    I know I am a lobster roll heretic, but they are not my favorite for some reason… Although with that toasted bun and butter they do look tempting! They are so rich!

    I also don't understand tuna melts. Tuna salad with cheese? That gets toasted and is hot?… I think tuna salad should be cold. That is why sandwich making is an individual thing, huh? Xx

  3. Mmmmm, Joan, your grilled cheese and bacon sounds like the perfect breakfast...

  4. I'm so sorry about the East Village friends.

    Parkway Bakery, New Orleans for a fried shrimp po'boy.

  5. OMG, all these delicious sandwiches. I want a bite of each for breakfast!

    I love a good BLT in the summer, but I think my favorite would be the kind of sandwich I'd eat in college in California, with all ingredients from the food coop in Laguna Beach: thick whole grain bread with a good cheddar, sliced avocado, ripe tomato, and alfalfa sprouts, plus mayo and a little Dijon mustard. Yum.

    These days I'm also a deconstructionist - just can't eat that much bread.

  6. Muffaletta from Central Grocery in New Orleans! It's a grocery store with a little dining area in the back, and the experience of eating there is as fab as the sandwich.
    Also in New Orleans, shrimp po-boy from Mother's. In Baton Rouge, any po-boy from Mike Anderson's or Ralph & Kacoo's. Of course, all of these sandwiches are greatly enhanced by a cup of seafood gumbo first.

    Did I mention I'm going home to Louisiana for a visit soon?

  7. First, let me say how sad I am for all those affected by the East Village explosion. Reminds us to enjoy every day, because you just never know.

    As for sandwiches, I would just like to endorse The Secret Sandwich Society (located in West Virgina). This is the best sandwich place I have ever eaten.

  8. I've just added a picture of Matt and Nora. They are as lovely on the inside as they are adorable on the outside.

  9. Susan, how wonderful that your friends were away, and what a chilling thought at how slim the margin is between being there and not being there. The one thing they can never replace is their own lives, so having each other is huge. They are so lucky to have friends like you guys.

    Hank, I'm with you on tuna melts, never did understand that. We have a tuna sandwich war here, Chez Maz. Steve prefers light mayo and tons of chopped celery on regular bread, while I grew up with lots of mayo and sweet pickle relish, and butter the toast. We both like it with hard-cooked egg, but I mix it in with the tuna and Steve likes it on the side.

    My favorite sandwich of all time is whole wheat toast spread with lots of mayo, with gobs of lettuce, a slice hard-cooked egg, and salt and pepper. My comfort food. Of course, BLT's in the summer, with fresh tomatoes, that's a given.

    The other favorite, one I had in St. Louis, I think, during a business trip, and that I've never quite been able to duplicate: open-faced, using an English muffin half on the bottom, with a portabello mushroom cap, roasted red peppers, lots of basil leaves, and some kind of cheese, heated and melted together. There was also a sauce under the mushroom that I've never identified, but it may have been remoulade. It was so delicious.

  10. Susan, I cannot begin to imagine what your friends are feeling. Unimaginable, really.

    ooooh, Lucy - wonderful post. I'm a fool for a good ol' fashioned hot dog and since I am trying desperately to lose some weight, now I'm craving a good ol' fashioned hot dog.

    And a BLT. with real tomatoes. I don't even buy tomatoes at the grocery store any more, but I'm the first in line when the produce stands start opening up.

    Remember Lawrence Sanders and his Detective Edward X Delaney and the sandwiches he would concoct and eat while leaning over his kitchen sink? I loved those books.

  11. Susan, I've read about the East End fire; heartbreaking.

    Of course, I'm in Pittsburgh, home of the Primanti sandwich - meat, cheese, coleslaw, and fries stacked on two thick slices of sourdough. But that's not my favorite.

    No, I'll have to go back to my roots: roast beef on weck. Thin sliced roast beef, cooked to order (I prefer medium to medium-rare), on a kimmelweck bun (this is a hard roll with carraway seeds and salt on it). A dab of horseradish if that's your taste, maybe dip the top of the bun in the au jus. Yummy. Add a side of German potato salad or coleslaw.

    Now I want to go to the Beef 'n Barrel restaurant in Olean, NY to get one. (Because then I can pair the awesome sandwich with a great dessert and a strawberry daiquiri.)

  12. Have been thinking about that terrible explosion in the East Village - thanks for posting the link, Susan. My thoughts are with Matt and Nora and I'm heading over to their fundraising page to add a little muscle to it.

    I don't love ALL lobster rolls, but my vote for best in the Boston area is a Tony's Clam Shop on Wollaston Beach in Quincy. You get pretty much the meat of an entire lobster, barely dressed and overflowing a just toasted hot dog bun. Plenty for 2 to share. And don't miss their onion strings. And steamed clams.

  13. Hank and Karen, I have to disagree on the tuna melt question. I've had bad ones of course, and I can't make a decent one at home, but there's grill in CT that's open in the summer. The only thing I order is the tuna melt--and it's delicious. (Unfortunately last year, John also got me started on their chocolate milkshakes...) Sorry Kaye:(.

    Ramona and Margaret--thanks for reminding me about po-boys! And muffalottas--I'm crazy for that olive spread.

    Kristopher, off to look up your secret sandwich society...

    ps just read in the NY Times this morning that 2 men were killed in that explosion. Karen, you are so right, the margin between disaster and normal life is so narrow...that is exactly why we need to seize life's little joys...

  14. Mary — beef of weck — yes! With a little horseradish! You can take the folks out of Buffalo, but you can't take the Buffalo out of the folks....

    Also, Hank, I'm with you on the tuna melt. And for that many calories (I shudder to think), it should be better. Just saying.

  15. Oh, and for lobster roll, Aunt Carrie's in RI: The. Best.

  16. Roberta, you can have all my share.

    Because I'm generous that way. :D

  17. I guess I'm surprised, given the age of NYC's infrastructure, that there aren't more tragedies like this one in the East Village. Grateful that the loss of life was minimal, but still heartrending to lose everything you have. So glad, Susan, that your friends were not home.

    Ramona, my first ever muffaletta was from Central Grocery! But my sandwich favorite? Moving home was a good thing, except the variety of restaurants took a major nosedive. But a local deli, on St Paddy's day one year was serving corned beef, of course. I went in and begged for a Reuben instead--and boy, did they deliver!! Big pickle on the side, coleslaw--mmmm! Best. Sandwich. Ever. ;-)

  18. Thanks Karen:)

    FChurch, not such a big fan of corned beef, but the idea of the big pickle and the sauerkraut has my mouth watering!

  19. Oh, how could I have forgotten about Po Boys--specifically Pappadeaux Fried Oyster Po Boy, served on crusty, tender, warm French bread with slathered with Creole mustard slaw, tartar sauce and lemons on the side... But I still deconstruct it, even though the bread is fabulous, there's too much of it.

    Susan, so terrible about your friends, but thank heavens they are okay. Going to their fund-raising page now.

  20. Oh, my goodness! What sandwich fabulousness. I had never heard of a tuna melt until I got married, and I just couldn't understand them. But then one day I found myself bored w/ my slice of wheat bread w/ tuna salad and dressed it up w/ cheese and I found myself strangely drawn to the toaster oven. And it was good! I don't think I would order it out, though.

    BUT the best sandwich I ever had was at a tiny restaurant in Great Barrington, MA. It was a ham, Gruyere, avocado, and tomato sandwich on sourdough, grilled. Heaven!!!

  21. Julia, one note on the lobster roll--The bun should be toasted and buttered.

  22. Susan,

    Living in the NY metropolitan area, we heard about the gas explosion early on, and were stunned at the devastation. I am so sorry for your friends and their neighbors, and for the families of the two people who were killed.

    I DO love tuna melt sandwiches! In fact, I made one for myself yesterday for lunch.

    Lucy/Roberta: where is the Ct grill that makes them? I'll plan a trip there this summer!

  23. Such a wonderful variety of sandwiches - I'm drooling. I'm firmly on the tuna melt side - there used to be a deli in Durham, NH, that served a wonderful tuna melt on a bagel - fabulous! But my top favorite is around the corner at Pauly's Pokkets - the lamb and felafel combo on fresh pita with their wonderful tatziki sauce - heaven!

  24. This is my all-time secret vice sandwich: sliced sourdough bread, mayo, thinly sliced sweet onion (such as a vidalia or walla walla), thinly sliced Clausen's dill pickle, and thinly sliced english cucumber, with a little salt and pepper. So tasty!!

  25. I'm in Wisconsin: just bratwurst, not even embellished.

    However-- there is also the Kopp's (huge) burger with raw onions and bleu cheese.

    I'm also rather partial to cheddar cheese and mayo and tomato on a toasted hamburger bun. Or a tosted sesame bagel with a moderate amount of cream cheese, a lot of lox, some red onion, some tomato and lettuce.

    And then there's the post-Thanksgiving white meat turkey with mayo and lettuce on sourdough bread. (Chicken can substitute during the rest of the year). Ah, sandwiches.

    And Oreos.

  26. The lobster roll gets my vote. As a coastal New Englander, I'm lucky to be near lots of good places to get one. No celery or Miracle Whip, please, just mayonnaise, a nice fresh hot dog roll, and chunks of lobster meat freshly cooked and chilled, not frozen and defrosted. My daughter recently introduced me to the hot lobster roll, lobster gently heated in butter and served over a toasted roll. Delicious.

    A seaside setting definitely enhances the dining experience, but a lobster roll still tastes darn good at the kitchen table.

  27. Susan, you are such a great friend to your friends Matt and Nora. So hard to imagine losing all those pieces of one's life and one's livelihood. And, while the most important thing is, of course, that they weren't hurt, we all have those possessions that would be heartwrenching to lose and irreplaceable.

    Sandwiches! I love sandwiches, and I am a huge fan of the BLT, but as Kaye pointed out, real tomatoes make all the difference in a great BLT. I will have to admit that I often leave off the lettuce, too, which I guess makes it a BT. I saw on FB the other day (and saved to my page) a way to maximize the bacon coverage on a BLT or any sandwich with bacon. The link is And, I just came across this version of the BLT I would love to try, a BLT Fried Egg and Cheese. I love BLTs, fried eggs, and cheese, so how could I go wrong with this sandwich. Link is

    Of course, there are the sandwiches that I grew up with, most notably my mother's homemade pimento cheese, where she used an old fashioned grinder for the cheese and made her own mayonaise. The ham sandwiches fried in butter, and the made-from-scratch sloppy joes.

    My favorite locally owned and operated restaurant has a blackened tilapia sandwich that it scrumptious. I get it lightly blackened. I enjoy avocado on sandwiches, and I just recently tried and found out I like cranberry with turkey.

    My guilty pleasure sandwich is the Big Boy sandwich from Frisch's Restaurant chain. I grew up eating them, but now the nearest one is two hours away, which is probably much better for my health and weight. Two beef patties with cheese and special sauce is exactly a healthy food selection. Another beef sandwich I love is when I make meatloaf, which is seldome these days, and have meatloaf sandwiches the next day or so. Melting some cheese on top is just over the top, but I do that, too.

  28. Kathy Reel--I couldn't pass up your comment about Frisch's Big Boy. As a Cincinnati girl, I'm addicted to that special tartar sauce. My mom brings me little jars when she visits, and I think you can get it online. I slather my French fries in it, too. : )

    Jungle Red gals--are ya'll familiar with the saucy pleasures of the Frisch's Big Boy?!

  29. Frisch's! YES absolutely. Although that Big Boy logo was creepy-weird, you have to admit.

    And I am frantic about gas explosions. I check and double check our stove, and yeesh, I am always smelling gas. I am so sad for all those people--it;s so terrifying, too--does it sound like the landlord had illegally re-piped the gas delivery?

  30. There's are two Frisch's restaurants four miles in different directions from our house--one across the river in Kentucky. My father-in-law used to take us all there, and it was pretty special for my girls.

    I have not had a Big Boy in years. When I did eat them I would order them "combination" style, which meant without the middle piece of bun. The sauce is just as delicious on fish, by the way! We used to keep a jar in the fridge for the fish my father-in-law was always bringing Steve to cook for him. I sure miss those fish fries.

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  32. Philly Cheesesteaks (and Bierocks as well!) were brought to Wichita by Lebanese immigrants. I developed my taste for cheesesteaks (with mushrooms, onions and peppers) working at a sub place years ago. Yum!

  33. Laura, Hank, and Karen, I'm so happy to hear that you all are familiar with Frisch's, too. Laura and Karen, I grew up just an hour from Cincinnati, east on the Ohio River in Maysville, KY. My family's go-to restaurant was Frisch's across the river in Aberdeen,OH. Now, they don't have one in Aberdeen and have one in Maysville instead. Louisville is the closest place to me now that has Frisch's. I always order a Big Boy Platter, with the Big Boy sandwich, french fries (love their fries, too), and cole slaw.