Describe the perfect sandwich. You have up to $5,000 to spend. Be creative.
You know, I have to be honest – sandwiches are not my favorite. I have spent so many years making the damn things, by the dozens, that I am just tired of the entire concept. And when it comes to just eating one, they are often not properly balanced to suit my palate (which is quite picky and whiny, truth be told…). Either too much or two little bread, or meat…or even just an ounce too much sauce, & the whole thing is no good!
Additionally, 5G on a sammy is silly! What, are we having foie gras, sandwiched between two slabs of black truffles, with a thick coating of saffron paste? Yuck…
But all grumpy sandwich sentiments aside, here is my all time favorite. At the Crescent Cafe, it is called the Spanish Caravan, named after The Doors song, and it was conceived and created by my good friend Jonathan, who was my right-hand-man in setting up New Moon’s juice bar, and the kitchen for the cafe.
The Caravan begins with a fresh ciabatta roll, sliced in half and lightly toasted. Then the bottom slice is given a moderate coating of fig spread, which is made by reducing chopped and stemmed black figs (dehydrated ones will do just fine) in water, red wine, and sugar. After that is cooked and blended, it is cooled and kept in the fridge for just such an occasion…
You really don’t want too much of this spread on there – we are not making a jelly sandwich here. The Caravan is a perfect example of the need for balance amongst the ingredients… Next, over the spread, we place .15 of a pound of salami. Good salami – it needs to be dry, and it’s best with a nice kick of pepper and spices in it. Fra’mani is an excellent producer of salami. The livestock is humanely handled before slaughter, and then the meat is treated in the traditional Italian style, adding only the highest quality ingredients. Both the Genoa and the Gentile styles work well for this sandwich.
Over that, two or three slices of manchego cheese, the slices should be quite thin, so that they only just hold together, and the rind should be removed. Over this, a small handful of fresh (and preferably organic) arugula, tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper – and finally, the top slice is spread with creme fraiche. Again, you want to be able to taste the creme, and enjoy it’s rich texture, but don’t let it overshadow all the other players!
The finishing touch of preparation is to smash the thing down a bit, before cutting in half, on a diagonal. The smashing helps to seal together the flavors, and gives the sandwich just the right consistency of bread, meat, cheese, sauce and greens – and it also makes it more pleasant to try to stuff into yer maw.