Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Menu Of The Week

California.

Not usually the first word to slip from a sandwicharian's mouth when considering the luncheon issues of the day.

But try trotting that kind of point out to famed Hollywood celebrities like Jeff Stelling, Alan Mullery and Nigel 'Out of his Depth' Spackman, three giants of the entertainment industry that regularly rock on down to the Pacific Palms Grill to check out the fine loaf-love on offer.

The PPG, as it's known to Jeff and the boys, was originally a German restaurant. Today it's more a way of life for the people of Milpitas, CA, who take part in the venue's thrice-weekly karaoke nights. Now that's the way to enjoy your sandwich.

And so to the menu. The PPG keeps it strictly ballroom with a mouthwatering New York Deli Sandiwch Menu which can only really be properly described as the stuff of Havers' dreams.

Here's the sucker in full:

BRONX BOMBER
Heaping slices of Angus roast beef with sharp cheddar honey Dijon mustard & thin slices of Texas sweet onion on a torpedo roll.
$7.95

BROOKLYN BRIDGE
Black Forrest ham, Jarlsberg Swiss, lettuce, tomato, onion, and chive mayonnaise on a sweet French Roll
$ 6.95

LITTLE ITALY
The ultimate Italian hoagie with Genoa salami, mortadella, capacola, prosciutto and provolone cheese, lettuce, roasted peppers, red onion & herb aioli on a crusty Italian roll
$7.95

LONG ISLAND
Angus corned beef, jack cheese, slaw and Thousand Island dressing on a Jewish rye bread.
$6.95

MANHATTAN
Pastrami, Swiss, red onion, and horseradish mustard on pumpernickel bread.
$6.95

CONEY ISLAND SUB
Albacore tuna salad, lettuce, tomato, and peppered mayonnaise on a whole wheat torpedo roll.
$6.95

29TH STREET VEGGIE SUB
Roasted eggplant, sweet peppers, onions, sprouts, lettuce, tomato, avocado on a flat bread with pink mayonnaise.
$6.95

ROCKAWAY GRINDER
Homemade Italian meatballs, marinara sauce, provolone & parmesan cheese on an Italian Roll.
$ 7.95

BROADWAY
Roasted turkey breast, Swiss & tomato on a Kaiser roll with sage mayonnaise
$ 7.95

FIFTH AVENUE
New York style chicken salad on a Dutch crunch roll.
$7.95

THE BIG “SASEEEEGE”
Columbus Italian sausage, mozzarella & Romano cheese with pizza sauce on a torpedo roll. Served hot or mild.
$ 7.95

HARLEM CHEESE STEAK
Thin slices of Angus top sirloin, grilled with red onion, portabella mushrooms, hot chili peppers, sun-dried tomatoes & garlic on a baguette with melted Tillamook cheddar.
$8.95

Mister Sandwich likes the look of all of these sandwiches, but in particular the Brooklyn Bridge and Little Italy excursions. Just take a minute to read over those ingredients again. You can just imagine the food bursting out of the bread-containment unit. Mister Sandwich's cutting board is also raised to the interesting variations of mayonnaise: chive, peppered, sage and pink all get their brief moment of fame on the menu, though Mister Sandwich wonders what the fuck is making the mayo pink. There's no mention of prawns out there.

Interesting also to see the Philly Cheese Steak retitled as a Harlem Cheese Steak, with the addition of a couple of fancy ingredients to try and grab glory for the Hefty Apple (as they're calling it). Didn't that happen once before with the Liberty Bell or something? Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

Congratulations though to the PPG - latest winners of our esteemed* Menu of the Week award.

*As described by Sandwicharian Magazine.

Lunch Wars #3

EARL'S BRIE, TURKEY AND CRANBERRY TOASTED CIABATTA

  • OUTER: A firm, crispy outside means no soggy bread caused by excess cranberry slop. It all holds together nicely, but resembles more a thin panini than a try heap of ciabatta breadness. Today, I wasn't at my hungriest, so this was good, but those after a more stomach-troubling portion could be disappointed.

  • INNER: Pretty much spot on. Brie can sometimes be overpowering, but here it is offset spicily by the generous helpings of cranberries crammed in. The turkey, too often underfunded in sandwiches and oft forgotten, completes the balance, with no taste ever winning the scrap. A score draw, then, leaving us, the crowd, the real winner.

  • CONTEXT: Washed down with some Italian fizzy orange stuff. San whatsamacallit. Refreshing if a little sweet.

  • VERDICT: 80% In a break from recent chain-heavy entries, Lunch Wars has today gone with one of Covent Garden's finest independents, the mighty Earl's on Endell Street and, unsurprisingly, it scores our highest mark yet. Displaying the true sign of a champion, it keeps it simple and reaps the rewards - no unnecessary salad to fill out proceedings, no heavy mayo added to cover up the taste. Sure, you pay a bit more than at the chains, but with your tastebuds piqued for the rest of the day, it really is a worthwhile investment.
  • Wednesday, September 21, 2005

    Sandwiches Of The Stars #2: Tim Vanhamel

    Singer and guitarist with Belgian quirk-rockers Millionaire



    "My tastiest sandwich filling ever was candle wax with fresh basil, and a glass of morning urine to go with it."

    Mister Sandwich suspects that Vanhamel may not have taken the question as seriously as it was intended.

    Monday, September 19, 2005

    Lunch Wars #2

    PRET A MANGER CRAYFISH & AVOCADO NO-BREAD SANDWICH



  • OUTER: Merely the plastic box in which the filling is served. Many will question the validity of this entrant to our sandwich discussions, but it is sandwich by name, from the colonel of all things sandwich, so who is Mister Sandwich to argue? Even we get a bit 'breaded out' from time to time. Actually, that's a complete lie, we could NEVER get too much of the stuff. But we digress…
  • INNER: The juicy avocado is hidden underneath lots of leafy rocket, but is worth the exploration. A good helping of light crayfish is served to the side. It's all very airy, as you'd expect, but is very tasty and once mixed up by your own fair hands, the taste is well worth writing a blog about.
  • CONTEXT: Combined with Pret's new Miso soup, an absolute snip at £1.20. Here were we expecting a thimble of hot liquid to be offered in our direction - but, no! How could we doubt the good ship Pret, and a good regular-coffee-sized urn of Far Eastern goodness was the perfect warm accompaniment for a light salad snack.
  • VERDICT: Disqualified At the end of the day, when they're offering a Crayfish salad for £3.80 and a no-bread sandwich with much the same on offer for only £2.95, only one is heading back to the office with Mister Sandwich. It's a rather bizarre oversight by Pret, and one to be exploited until they no doubt amend the price chasm. However, nice as it is, and whatever Mr Metcalfe may wish to believe, it is NOT a sandwich, and is therefore ruled out from our mightily revered rating system. Tomorrow: The no-milk milkshake. Maybe.
  • Saturday, September 17, 2005

    Menu Of The Week

    Ever wondered what Meryl Streep's favourite sandwich is? Of course you have, you're only human. Thankfully the good people at Celebrity Sandwich, a sandwicharian's treasure trove based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire are letting bread fans run their eyes over a stunning menu. The bread list alone is more a work of art than a list of filling containment units:

    "Your choice of freshly baked breads: White, Wheat, Rye/Pumpernickel Swirl, Foccacia, Multi-Grain, Herb Parmesan, Crusty French Roll, Tuscan Roll, Pita Pockets or Wrap (White-Wheat-Sundried Tomato). Choices of spreads: Mayonnaise, Mustard, Honey Mustard, Dijon Mustard, Creamed Horseradish, Dijonaise, Tahini, Pesto-Mayo, Olive Oil, Miracle Whip, Lemon Herb Mayo."

    Pesto-Mayo spread on herb parmesan, before the sandwicharian has even approached the topic of fillings? Truly this could be the first menu to challenge for the Booker.

    Some notable celebrity sandwiches mentioned include:

    5. Bill Cosby - Roast Beef, Boursin, Tomato & Lettuce
    7. Meryl Streep - Roast Beef, Swiss, Tomato & Olive
    9. Sophia Loren - Roast Beef, Swiss, Tomato & Lettuce
    13. Seinfeld - Ham, Cream Cheese, Olive
    16. Tracey Ullman - Ham, Harvarti, Lettuce & Tomato
    36. Goldie Hawn - Tuna, Lettuce, Tomato & Olive
    57. Ted Danson - Chicken Salad, Havarti, Lettuce
    63. Burt Reynolds - Bologna, Cheddar, Tomato & Lettuce
    106. Dr. Seuss - Grilled Chicken Breast, Ham, Melted Swiss, Lettuce, Tomato, Honey Mustard
    104. Edgar Allan Poe - Grilled Chicken Breast, Avocado, Cheddar, Lettuce , Tomato, Lemon-Herb Mayo
    124. Ron Howard - Boursin, Avocado, Olives, Red Peppers, Onions, Nuts, Cheddar, Tomato, Pesto-Mayo
    125. Fellini - Capicolla, Mortadella, Genoa, Tomato, Red Peppers, Onions, Olives, Provolone, Olive Oil

    Minor quibbles aside* this is a marvellous sandwich menu and Mister Sandwich is proud to make it the first member in the Mister Sandwich Menu Of The Week Hall Of Fame. Our patronage does not come easily.

    *For example: 'The Bill Cosby' should surely include several more major and minor ingredients to recognise Cliff Huxtable's profound sandwich dealings in the Cosby Show (Fox, 1964-68). This glaring error is tempered by the magnificent menu intricacy concerning 'The Meryl Streep' and 'The Sophia Lauren', who share three out of four fillings presumably in recognition of the fact that in real life they also share three out four characteristics: they are both female, both actresses, both rich, but only one of them is called Sophia. And what the fuck is going on with the Ron Howard? A complete lack of restraint; a bye-product of all those years hanging around with Fonzarelli no doubt.

    Twice The First Time

    While the noble sandwich as a foodstuff, strain of philosophy and muse has been around for hundreds of years, writing about sandwiches wasn’t invented until 2002 when two plucky pioneers turned an idea (writing about sandwiches) into an influential literary strand (the writing about sandwiches). Yet it wasn’t The New Yorker or Vanity Fair who published this ground-breaking if somewhat rough-around-the-edges work (consider it very much a case of rustic crusts kept on). Rather, it was a little known in-house company magazine titled Reed All About It, published by Butterworths-Tolley-Lexis-Nexis-Reed-Elsevier (or whatever the hell-cat it’s called these days). The company was/is huge so the circulation was probably about eight million. Here are some selected highlights from a lunch-time sandwich round-up Mister Sandwich found whilst rummaging around in the vault:

    DOUGHMASTERS

    An enigma wrapped in a riddle? More like tasty warmed fillings inside the most amazingly supple bread thingys ever. They should patent that ish or something. As editorial’s resident sandwich-meister Stuart Egan, editorial assistant, says: ‘The filling is sublime. The dough is masterful.’ Need we say more?

    Tiger-o-meter: 5

    Notes:

    This may be the earliest instance of the (then) all purpose hip-hop slang ‘ish’ being used in the corporate sphere. Additionally, the Doughmasters pun has been recycled in at least two national magazines (and on a nearly monthly basis in one). The Tiger-O-Meter was a quantitative marking scale going from one to five that was used frequently in Reed All About It. Not quite sure of its origins but you have to ask, where the fuck the magazine’s editor was at? (Certain members of Mister Sandwich also managed to review Go Kart Mania! (Croydon’s “largest indoor go-karting arena south of the Thames”), The Truck Stop (a trailer park themed diner) and regular musical performances by Status Quo, all-girl pop flops Vanilla and early 70s David Axelrod production The Electric Prunes outside of the Drummond Centre, none of which even remotely existed.)

    BENJY’S

    What can I say? This place is cheap, but for a reason. Numerous stories abound including tales of dodgy baked potatoes. Indeed, Essex girl Janine Mansfield, editor, 19, suffered adverse effects for four and a half months after eating a “fizzy” salad. With Benjy’s new year revamp, however, we’re expecting great things in the near future.

    Tiger-O-Meter: 1

    Notes:

    While the sandwiches in Benjys’s were beyond dire, the name-checking of Ms Mansfield (far from 19 years old) was a brave move by a young and cocky editorial assistant. Career advice? Don’t coerce the piss out of your boss in front of the entire company.

    Sandwiches From Sierra Leone

    “The sandwich was good but I’m better than the sandwich.” There’s a pause, then the sound of a loathsome, offensive brute of a laugh fills up the air. It’s a laugh that hints that this man’s inner struggle is man’s struggle, yet you can’t stop listening to it. The rubble of a discarded tuna mayonnaise sandwich is scattered around a silver service dinner plate. The lights in the room have been kept deliberately dim, casting a low-key glare over the richly varnished wood that makes up the fixtures and fittings of this distinctly professorial abode, but you’re acutely aware that you’re in the presence of a sparkling super human being who is, by all accounts, superior to a sandwich. All sandwiches, even.

    “Of course, I’ve been eating sandwiches since I was in the 7th grade but it was only when I started to feast on platinum sellers like a tuna mayonnaise that I consider myself as having had my first ‘wich,” continues Kanye West. “And now that I’m a big player in the sandwich game I hear all the conversations about which ‘wich is the best ‘wich; whether tuna mayonnaise with a splash of hot sauce is more on point than a sausage and bacon on toasted rye, or whether a triple decker club sandwich goes deeper than smoked salmon and cream cheese on a crusty farmhouse bloomer. But you know what? I’m better than all of them sandwiches. Even put together. And you can print that – don’t need no copy approval for that one – you can print that in big, bold point 24 Arial font: ‘Kanye West: Better Than All Sandwiches Put Together’.”

    Earlier, he’d hinted at the deep psychological sandwich subtext of his past; a history that might go some way to explaining the fragile braggadocio of his ‘wich talk today. “I remember the days as a young lad in but a plain cotton-knit cardigan and polyester slacks wanting to help out my momma in the kitchen making the day’s sandwiches,” he recalled, “but all she ever said was, ‘Kanye dear, stick to putting the butter on the bread and let others take the glory of the filling. Buttering bread is what you’re best at – we can’t all be sandwich fillers, remember.’ ”

    Then there was a pause and a small tear began to form in his un-monocled eye. It was the left one. You feared he was about to run out of the room crying but instead he snapped back into play and screamed out, “I showed them that I was better than the sandwiches though!” Then he picked up an abandoned crust – making sure to flash the lavish conflict diamonds glittering up the bezel of his Swatch watch in God’s direction as he did so – held it close to his cheek as if it were his momma’s ample bosom, and started to mutter the words from his famous Saturday morning pop hit ‘Jesus Walks’. You could only but wonder at the psychological sandwich trauma this perky young black man had been through as he then segued into a mantra of “I was making five sandwiches a day for three summers – they can’t take that away from me.”

    The creaking sound of an old oak door opening then cuts through the flashback and a buff-looking man-servant enters. He’s carrying a plate full of sandwiches – all tuna mayonnaise you harbour – and places them candidly down on a coffee-coloured coffee table. Kanye’s eyes suddenly light up and he leaps out of his seat and does a jig around the room, scatting an impromptu quasi-rap of “I beat the sandwiches! I beat the sandwiches! They said I could only butter the bread! I did the fillings too! I’m the best! Better than the rest! Walking down the street, listening to the beat, there’s not a sandwich that I can’t beat!” Then, as if the last fifteen seconds of sandwich-induced showtime madness never even existed, he lowers himself back down into his brown leather armchair and slowly leans forward. Up close, you notice the fine quality of wool that makes up his chunky knit cardigan. Angora, you suspect. The buttons are embossed with the initials ‘A.P.’. A Partridge fan, you deduce. The matching crest above the door confirms it. You can smell the scent of Werther’s Originals on his breath as he says, in hushed tones: “Boots don’t care about sandwiches.”

    You’re shocked.

    In the background John Legend, wearing a fashionably cut t-shirt bearing the slogan ‘RnB Is For Lovers’, looks equally astounded. Putting your reporter’s hat back on - a jade green fedora with goose feather trim you picked up at a Compton swap-meet during the summer of ’79 – you press him for more specifics: Is it the fact that their sandwiches are made in factories? Is it the way they’re sealed up, supping any flavour from the filling? Is it the segregationist subtext of the lunchtime Meal Deal restrictions? Is it the £5 minimum transaction credit card rule that holds back African Americans in the lunch-time hustle and bustle?

    At these questions Kanye simply scoffs, tilts his head back towards the ancient Greek gods up above and exclaims, “I’m better than their sandwiches too!” Then he picks up another tuna mayonnaise ‘wich from the plate, takes a hearty bite out of its heart and glares into the exposed fish and egg-and-oil-based condiment centre with a look that says to the whole world, ‘I’m better than this sandwich.’

    Friday, September 16, 2005

    Lunch Wars #1

    STARBUCKS EGG MAYO WITH CRESS AND CRACKED PEPPER



  • OUTER: Wholemealy and quite thick, making the immediate experience quite dry. Could have done with a bit more moistness and give in texture. Pret 'wiches often suffers a similar fate.
  • INNER: Pleasantly stacked. Plenty of very yellow egg, good consistency, not overly proportioned in the cress stakes, just enough. Pepper also offsets the sweetness of the egg nicely.
  • CONTEXT: Combined with hand-cut Patatas Bravas crisps – their light spiciness is a perfect foil to the occasional blandness of the sarnie choice. Top marks.
  • VERDICT: 65% – Rating on a percentage scale, as the tabloids STILL insist on doing for computer games (as if it's written in Mario's blood somewhere), Egg Mayo is a sandwich staple so won't win any originality awards, but Starbucks has done enough to the formula to make it worth a revisit if you're feeling uninspired and don't want too many overpowering flavours. Certainly a palette cleanser, which is unusual for a product where many lesser offerings leave you with breath and arse problems for days to come. However, it IS just Egg Mayo, with all the wedding-buffet baggage that this entails, so it really can't get more than a highly mediocre score.
  • My First Sandwich #1: Nigel Havers

    “I was a late bloomer with sandwiches,” offers Britain’s foremost cravate-wearing television star-cum-sandwicharian of the 1980s, Nigel Havers. “If you pardon the pun.”

    Consider it pardoned, Havers. Now speak. Mister Sandwich is all ears. “My first sandwich was in 1968. I was fifteen years old, and I bought it from Holland and Sons, a now defunct bakers run by a man called Holland, and his sons, that was based in Belsize Park in London. I remember the feeling when I unwrapped the packaging, peeling off layer after layer with my fumbling hands, desperate to get to the prize that lay in store for me underneath. Of course, with experience I became a master at unpackaging sandwiches, and I have received many compliments for the tendresse that apparently oozes from my very English fingertips when doing so.”

    “Naturally, back then, I didn’t know what I was doing. All fingers and thumbs. You have to remember, in the olden days there was nothing that showed young people how it should be done properly. You couldn’t go and ask a parent or you’d receive a clip round the earhole for discussing such a thing. Sandwich eating amongst teenagers was a taboo subject around the aga, so there was a great degree of guesswork involved.”

    “Anyway, I managed to get the packaging off eventually, and then just froze. It was so beautiful. So pure. So…irresistible…but still I had to touch it. I peeled back the top layer of white bread and marvelled at what lay beneath. We had only read about the combination of ham and lettuce in books, but there it was in front of me. Gazing at me. Urging me forward. So I did what any red blooded young man would: I took a deep breath, picked up the sandwich and enjoyed my first bite. But, of course, it wasn’t enough. ‘Harder! Harder!’ the sandwich seemed to be saying to me. ‘Eat me! Wear me like a feedbag, Havers, you dirty bitch. Eat my filling!’ I was mesmerised by the filth I could hear.”



    “It was certainly a steep learning curve. I wouldn’t say that it was my best sandwich ever; in fact, it was probably one of the worst now I come to think of it. But it taught me several valuable lessons. It taught me how to handle the sandwich, how not to get overawed by its presence, and how to tactically eat it so that there was still some ham left for the final bite.”

    “I look at sandwich eating nowadays and it has certainly changed a lot since my first time. There are too many ingredients, for one thing. Once, the sandwich was a classic design. Nowadays you see all sorts of add-ons, making it look like some kind of boy racer lunch option. I’ve often discussed my first time with fellow members of ‘Cravat! (The International Association of People In Blazers That Wish To Look Off The Hook)’ and many of them are of the same opinion: Sandwiches these days really are dressed up like whores, begging for it.”

    Nigel Havers was talking to Mr Sandwich.

    Sarnie Scripture #1

    SUBWAY 'BMT' IS MUCH LESS THAN MEETS THE EYE



    Strangely enough, kids, in Subway's world 'BMT' does NOT stand for bacon, mushroom and tomato. Those expecting a meat'n'two-veg treat will be mightily disappointed. It is, in fact, named after the 'Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit' subway line, although this has subsequently been twisted to coin a corny ad phrase, "Bigger, Meatier, Tastier". Regardless, when ordered, what you actually get is a purely animal-heavy product, packed with 'Genoa' salami (you can really taste the difference under all that ranch sauce), pepperoni and ham. So bear that in mind next time you're wondering what else to have other than the inevitable steak and cheese.

    For The Sport Of It



    The conundrum on whether a hot piece of meat or fish placed inside a bread-based bun constitutes an official sandwich or something altogether different is still being mulled over by academics, armchair sandwicharians and the Court Of Arbitration For Sport in Switzerland, but Mister Sandwich would strongly advise against entering into impromptu Fillet O Fish eating contests. Not, you understand, for any reasons relating to nutrition, but, rather, because of the searing headache you'll experience the next morning.

    Remember kids: only buy your sandwiches and sandwich sub-genres from reputable purveyors. You get wht you pay for in this crazy mixed up sandwich world.

    Sights Of The City



    Found: One sandwich, loitering around the men's toilets in the John Snow pub in Soho. Appearing to consist of two slices of cheese (one possibly gouda, the other looking like American), a lettuce leaf and two prime pieces of white farmhouse style bread.

    Possibly one previous owner.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2005

    Sandwiches Of The Stars No. 1: Daniel Dumile



    "The Villain's a big fish fan so I'd say he'd choose a tuna salad sandwich. That's classic. Get some tuna straight from the can, mix in some mayo and some chopped celery, then spread it on some rye bread. If you want to be more flambouyant you can put some hot sauce in there, but the Villain doesn't mess with melted cheese."

    (Daniel Dumile is better knwon these days as MF Doom and is fond of referring to himself in the third person. As super-villains do.)

    Wednesday, September 07, 2005



    "Mmmm... wiches."

    Hold it. Now eat it.

    "Too few people understand a really good sandwich."
    James Beard


    Four score and three hundred years ago the noble sandwich was introduced into polite society. Courtiers and the French scoffed like common street dogs, refusing to acknowledge the potential of this wonderful bread-based snacking option. Even the food's staunch advocates, however, could not have possibly foreseen the extent to which this marvellous invention now shapes our daily lives. More than the internet, more than shoes, more than breathing: The sandwich defines our modern world.

    Here at Mister Sandwich you will be served the kind of coverage of baguettes, wraps, warm dough and all the myriad forms of lunchtime heaven that the concept truly deserves. Whether writing in-depth analysis of Bill Cosby's legendary attempts to create a perfect and unhealthy treat for himself under the alter-ego of Dr Cliff Huxtable, or examining the opinions of Julian Metcalfe, self-styled sandwich deity of the modern era, Mister Sandwich will strike knowledge into the very core of this engima wrapped in a wriddle wrapped in breadstuff.

    If you truly wish to reach an inner nirvana through the medium of cold cuts, bookmark Mister Sandwich now and enrich your lunch-based lifestyle with our deep schooling.