Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sandwiches Galore!

OK, new month, new update. :)

I've actually had eight sandwiches since I last posted, but three of them were very out of order from the list, so I won't write about them....yet.  

We begin with the Croque M at The Mark, the fancy schmancy restaurant in the Mark Hotel.  Beautiful room with high glass ceilings and we had a sweet waiter.  I had a group of people with me, and two of us got this sandwich while one of us had a forgettable appetizer with some fancy seafood in it and the other had an apparently tasteless and inedible omelette.  Whoops.  Well, at least this sandwich was awesome.  It was extremely rich, the gruyere and ham were delicious, and the quail eggs on top were cooked to utter perfection.  It gets points off for being an open-faced sandwich that you could only eat with a fork, but it was definitely one of the tastier sandwiches I've had, and the quail eggs were one of the best prepared ingredients I've had so far.  3.8.

Next up, we have a sandwich that was quite an adventure to get.  This is the PMB from Sullivan Street Bakery in Hell's Kitchen, one of the great bakeries in NYC.  Sandwiches aren't exactly their main thing (indeed, they're very much an afterthought even in their retail store), and I knew that going in.  I showed up very early (10:45), since I had heard that they often run out of ingredients for the sandwiches by mid-afternoon, and wanted to make sure I got this, but found out that they weren't even going to start making sandwiches until 11:30.  When I came back at 11:30, I found out that they don't make sandwiches by what people order; they just make them first come first serve.  I was lucky in that this was the first sandwich being made that day, but the guy behind me ordered a different sandwich and was told to wait 20 minutes.  Man.

Anyhow, after all that, the sandwich turned out to be incredibly good.  PMB stands for pancetta, mango, and basil, and all three ingredients, along with the bread, were terrific.  The mango was fresh and not overpowering, the pancetta was thin and tasty, and the basil added a nice refreshing taste to the whole thing.  Just simple and excellent, and certainly in the upper echelon of sandwiches I've had on this quest.  4.4.

Now we come to one of the casualties on the list.  The BBQ Rib Sandwich from Momofuku Ssam Bar no longer exists; it must have been a one time thing when the list came out.  However, that did mean I got to try the duck sandwich at Ssam, which I'd never had before (I work three and a half avenues away from Momofuku Ssam and Milk Bar, and Milk Bar is always one of my absolute favorite places to go for desert).  I had a feeling it would be great thanks to the recommendation of a co-worker who has never steered me wrong (she's the one who recommended Bakesale Betty's fried chicken sandwich in Oakland, which is one of the greatest sandwiches I've had in the entire country), and as usual, she was right.  The duck was extremely tasty, and the spicy mayo added a great kick.  Also, one of the most filling sandwiches I've had so far.  4.1.

Next we have one of the great surprises on this list.  I had never even heard of the whole Blue Ribbon line of stores in NYC, but found out that the one I wanted to go to, the Blue Ribbon Bakery Market, was pretty close to me in the Village, so off I went for lunch, not having any expectations.  And you know what?  I was completely blown away by this.  It's called an "egg toast" sandwich, and it has hard-boiled eggs (that they hard boil fresh while you wait), jalapenos and delicious pickled peppers, a really tasty light olive oil and I think mayo spread, and wonderful bread.  It was spicy, extremely fragrant and tasty, and just so satisfying.  And it was five bucks.  This is the one time I'm going to make an exception for an open-faced sandwich, since a) you could actually eat it with your hands, and b) this worked as an open-faced sandwich unlike all the other ones I've had so far; bread over the ingredients would have overwhelmed the sandwich.  I can't wait to go back and try their other sandwiches; this was one of my absolute favorites so far.  4.7.

And the last sandwich to cover today is another terrific one, the Super Heebster from Russ and Daughters.  This is definitely unlike any sandwich/bagel I've ever had.  The ingredients are whitefish and baked salmon salad, horseradish cream cheese, and wasabi-infused flying fish roe!  My friend Travis and I got it on an everything bagel.  The ingredients were so fresh and the combination was unbelievably delicious and rich.  Amazingly, despite having wasabi and horseradish, it wasn't overly spicy, just extremely tasty and unique.  I wish I could describe this one better.  The one important thing to add here: Travis' bagel wasn't very good apparently; he described it as chewy in the wrong way, and others in the office agreed with him.  Mine was fine, but it was a bit chewy, but the people who tried my sandwich didn't have the same bagel issue as those who tried his did.  So the bagels are apparently inconsistent; when you try this one out, hope for a good bagel!  Overall though, one of the most original and tasty sandwiches I've had.  4.3.

And I've made it through 51 of the sandwiches (more if you count the ones I haven't written about yet)!  More than halfway there!  See you next time! :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sandwiches 56 (sort of) and 55

I'm not going to go into why there was such a long break.  Let's just dig in!

The first sandwich after my long hiatus, the Bacon and Marmalade on Pumpernickel at Prune....doesn't exist anymore.  At least, it doesn't on the menu, and when I asked if they could make it, I was told with an annoyed sigh that "it's only available in the book," which I assume means a Prune cookbook I've never heard of.  Indeed, going to Prune was about what I was expecting: packed with pretentious yuppies sipping on three different glasses of wine for lunch, overworked waitresses who had a haughty attitude, and a cramped space not at all designed for comfortable dining.  Thank goodness the food was actually very good; not good enough to make me have any desire to go back (and there's a cookbook apparently; why would I when I can make all the food myself?), but still, at least it can sort of back up the attitude.

A rule I'm implementing starting now is that if the sandwich isn't available anymore (and I know that #2 on the list isn't, for example), I plan on going to the restaurant and ordering a different sandwich.  Not perfect, but I really wanted to do this challenge to discover new restaurants as much as anything, so this works.  At Prune, they had the sandwich you see above on the menu, an Avocado Sandwich on french bread with ricotta cheese, tomato and lemon; there were also onions as you can see from the picture. was excellent.  The avocado was some of the best I've had in New York, and the combo of the ricotta cheese and the onion, tomato, lemon, and olive oil was terrific.  One thing to note is that the sandwich did actually fold into a normal sandwich and wasn't just a long piece of bread you nibbled on like it looks in the picture.  One of the better sandwiches I've had.  If only it hadn't taken 45 minutes to get, despite the waitress knowing I was in a hurry.  4.2 for the sandwich, 2 for the restaurant.  Seriously, buy the book.

The next sandwich was at Despana, which is a cool gourmet Spanish wine seller/market and deli.  I really enjoyed the market itself, and wish I had more time to check it out.  When my girlfriend asked what sandwich the deli counter guy would recommend, he said this one, the Picante sandwich, which contains chorizo, peppers, tomatoes, and Spanish cheese.  I did my best to get a flattering picture, but it was tough; not the most attractive sandwich.  And it wasn't very good either.  I think the concept here was that the chorizo, which was very spicy but not that tasty, would mask the other parts of the sandwich, which just weren't good at all.  The cheese and tomatoes were bland, and the peppers were practically non-existent.  Overall, one of the biggest disappointments I've had on this adventure, considering how good the whole place looked and some reviews I've read online.  2.9.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Brace yourself....

The sandwich quest?  It's back on.