Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bringin’ Out the Hellman’s And the Sunday Best

Sandwich 101
Sandwiches. They range from humble to ridiculously grandiose.  Now that the weather is letting up a bit, some of us are rolling out our best breads, meats, cheeses and condiments and building the best sandwiches we can mustard. Whoops. You know what I mean. The art of sandwich building is not to be taken lightly, and while I’ve packed my share of picnic lunches that leaned on my favorite staples (Hellman’s and Grey Poupon) I heartily encourage experimenting with vinaigrettes, pestos, BBQ sauces, chutneys, and salsas—this enthusiasm basically furnished the entire fourth chapter of my new book that’s being tested (and hopefully enjoyed!) right now.

This post is all about dispensing sandwich secrets—not just how to make a superior sandwich, but how to understand its origins, so that the love for what you’re doings shines through in taste—soon, every one you know will want to go on a picnic with you! And if that “everyone you know” is in South Florida, you should definitely sandwich shop at Doris’ Italian Market. Pleas bear with me on the condiment puns. Doris’ peppers Broward County with 5 locations, and each one is just delightful. There’s really no other word to describe it with its 2 big clocks hanging on the wall; one that gives the time here in Florida, and the other that tells you it’s lunchtime in Rome.      

You can pick some amazing sandwich breads in their bakery: mufalleta, seesed, Cuban, braided…etc on into carb heaven infinity. Go for dry, dense bread if it’s going to be a particularly moist Sammy. And…when you’re picking out the veggies that are going on the sandwich, think outside the obvious choices of lettuce and tomato. Why? These are mostly water and can waterlog your masterpiece. I suggest roasted peppers, sliced fennel and spinach, shredded cabbage, or some diagonally cut cucumber.

When you spread your condiment of choice, cover the entire piece of bread, crust to crust—it’ll act as a moisture seal and lock in your flavors. I do this with my Hellman’s, which I love so much I don’t try to embellish too much. Its creators have known what they’re doing, no intervention necessary, since 1912. Telling the Hellman’s story is a great reminder to folks how important Sunday Excursions to new delis and cafes are—that’s how Hellman’s was discovered, you know: in a little German deli in NYC at the turn of the 20th century. The deli owner’s wife made such incredible mayo that it literally sold by the gravy boat—or rather, the wooden boats the deli used to weigh their butter. Two versions of the mayo were popular, and the one the customers liked best had a blue ribbon tied around the boat.   

Now for my mustard…I’m a grey poupon fan because their Pinterest board took the words right out of my mouth:  Since 1777, it has been synonymous with all that is refined, exquisite and delicious.” Pairing white wine with a strong French regional mustard was genius—and it’s brushed across my special recipe for an Italian BLT Panini in a way that makes that capicola ham do a little dance and make a little love. 

So tell me what your favorite sandwich is, and where you’d take it for the most perfect picnic on earth. In my case, that ended up being a porch glider. When the weather gets fair, keep this mantra in mind: Whatever the setting, whatever the time of year, a lunch is not a lunch unless you take it outdoors.

So happy picnicking!

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