Category Archives: Food Power Rankings

What 5 things make the best sandwich?


IMG_0972Waren Zevon, a man of great distinction, who for no other reason needed than writing the two of the greatest songs of all time Warewolves of London and Lawyers, Guns, And Money, gave a very poignant quote his last night on The David Letterman Show back when it was discovered he had terminal lung cancer.  Warren so eloquently said “Enjoy every sandwich”, well with our old good friend Warren in mind we are going to try and help elevate that experience by making sure you pick the right tools of the trade to make that sandwich the best it can be.

5. Mayo/Mustard- In my personal opinion the lone condiments, of the basic condiments (no bacon jam or banana ketchup need be considered here) that should ever be added to a sandwich are mayo or a nice good deli mustard.  Ketchup can go kick rocks and hide back in the Buffalo Bill well that Chicago hot dogs has it hidden in.

4. Pickle/Salad- Now I’m not talking the basic LTO on the sandwich, I’m talking something that really sets the sandwich apart.  Take some fresh vegetables and brine them,  or a quick slaw of some sort. In Vietnamese Bahn Mi’s this would be the pickled carrot, daikon, and cucumber medley that really makes the sandwich pop.  Or likewise the briny bold olive salad amongst the great muffulettas of down in Dixie Land.  For a great representation of what a salad can bring to the table check out the Grilled Pork Bahn Mi from Nam Nam  in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY or if you are down in New Orleans, LA The Original Muffuletta at Central Grocery is definitely worth checking out.

3. Cheese- Cheese being one of the best things ever created in life it makes perfect sense to “sandwich” (see what I did there) it right in the center of the list.  The main need of cheese is to add one and often two properties, flavor and occasionally texture.  The flavor is a given for any sandwich but the texture comes in key when you start messing around with some high class ooey and gooey and creamy cheeses, such as mozzarella.  Fine examples of what cheese brings to a sandwich are the Grilled Chicken #1 at Dave’s Fresh Pasta in Somerville, MA or in Hoboken, NJ, The C at M & p Biancamano.

2. Protein- Basic sandwich math here, you can’t have a real sandwich without some meat in the middle of it, hence why the idiom has become so wildly used for generations.  Whether it be the finest or Italian cold cuts, some thick slabs of Jewish brisket, or even shall I dare say some densely smoked tempeh (dare, dare) the key focal point of a sandwich usually starts and ends with what comes smack in the middle.  For a hipster vegan smash hit (that coming from a bacon die hard) is actually fairly delicious check out The Vegan BLT at Little Skips in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY.  For those of the more meat inclined you can never go wrong with The Turkey Reuben at Strip T’s in Watertown, MA.

1. The Bread- The structural integrity is held together by this carb king.  But isn’t the engineering feet alone that has this staple at the top of the sandwich pantheon, it’s the need for the right bread to compliment the sandwich in the right key areas.  Are you eating a big old sloppy joe and need some solid crusting to hold in the slop, or need a soft slice of rye to gently pillow in tender corned beef, the coupling of bread to accoutrements is key in every way.  Now in maybe not so surprising fashion my top sandwich spots for bread also happen to be national chains (or at least fairly prevalent in the Northeastern US).  For the best breaded sandwich head to your nearest Jimmy John’s or Wegman’s supermarket.  As someone who fell in love with both sandwiches at the same time, you will not miss no matter what you put in between two behemoths of the bun game.


Power Rankings: Salad

Being enthralled with all the debating over the current best teams in the NBA, NHL, and College Basketball, I felt it only right to do a Power Ranking’s of my own, this time of the leafy variety.  For those being a bit confused as to how such a gastronome as myself might be found eating, neigh enjoying something as boring and health conscious as a salad have not heard the joyful melody of the Mac Salad Song or been privy to the debate over a Wedge Salad Three-way.  Now for the definition of “salad” we are going with the broadest form of the word, pretty much anything that is commonly referred to as salad fits in this situation, those without lettuce still merit inclusion during such a time of culinary acceptance.  Here are my top 10 salad Power Rankings:

Wedge Salad for ALL!!

Wedge Salad for ALL!!

10.  Fruit Salad – It’s healthy, got that one out of the way.  Plus Fruit Salad can be so many different options, ain’t nobody got time to listen to me drone on about nectarines and strawberries.  Best Place to get Fruit Salad:   Anywhere that has fresh fruit duh!

9. Caesar Salad – This classic Italian Salad is the perfect way to start off a meal.  Some creamy dressing (with or without some anchovies) some crunchy croutons, shaved parmesan cheese, and preferably a spritz of fresh lemon juice make me feel like Jaime Foxx during the chorus of Slow Jamz  (for those not in the know “it definitely sets this party off right).  Best Place to get a Caesar Salad: Shock of the Century on this one Panera Bread (Locations all over) , seriously their Chicken Caesar is pretty damn incredible.

8. Egg Salad – When you spend the whole day boiling the eggs, getting together the mayonnaise, onion, and paprika you basically have all the accouterments of a world class salad right there.  The added bonus of this salad is that if you want to eat it in a crowded environment it usually can provide a little added elbow room for you.  No one ever said that delicious things smell wonderful (I’m looking at you dorian fruit).  Best Place to get Egg Salad:  I prefer to make my own, but if you must I would suggest your local deli.

7. Pasta Salad – Get me some tortellini drenched in italian dressing mixed with olives, tomatoes (sun-dried or regular), and chucks of salty salty provolone and I am one happy paisan.  Ok I’m not Italian but if they keep making salads this way I may have to convert.  actually knowing what I know of actual European Italians I am pretty sure this is an American creation and boy glad am I it is.  Go ‘Merica! Best Place to get Pasta Salad: Merritt Jones (Utica, NY) it’s a person not a place so don’t go looking for her, hands down best pasta salad ever.

6. Caprese Salad- Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella, enough said……well enough said if they have good Mozzarella. Best Place to get a Caprese Salad: Trattoria Il Panino (North End, Boston, MA)

5. Potato Salad (Both German and Regular Styles) – Few summer backyard BBQ’s are complete without the sultan of spuds.  Whether it be knockwurst with some warm German Potato Salad or good old wieners with some red bliss and dill, I think that Potato Salad just screams summer time fun.  The added bonus is that since potatoes are such a blank canvas you can throw almost anything into the mixture and come out with something hopefully tasty.  **An omission from my more portly days, I used to treat Potato Salad like a dip and scoop some hunks out on Potato Chips, the saltiness and crunch of the chips just made a spectacular combo with the creamy luscious Potato Salad.  Best Place to get Potato Salad: Heidelberg Restaurant (Upper East Side, New York, NY) or Parish Cafe (Boston, MA)

4. Greek Salad- Nothing better than some lettuce drowned in some Greek Salad dressing with delicious land-mines  of feta cheese and olives that peak those taste buds right up.  Throw in some pita break to make a little salad sandwich and you are in business.   Greek Salads make you reek of that Dinner/Pizza place on the corner but in a good smelly way.  Best Place to get a Greek Salad: B & F’s House of Pizza (Waltham, MA)

3. Wedge Salad- The stalwart of the Steakhouse, the Wedge Salad is the true carnivores salad.  You know what goes great with a nice hunk of healthy Iceberg lettuce?  How about we smother it in Blue cheese and sprinkle on hunks of bacon.  This once again proves one of the Ten Commandments of my life: bacon makes everything better.  **Disclaimer don’t ever split a Wedge Salad, people will never let you live that moment down.  Best Place to get a Wedge Salad: Paddy’s Pub or O’Hara’s Restaurant (Newton, MA)

2. Chicken Salad- I was first turned onto Chicken Salad in high school when I was enticed by a local sandwich stop that had a chicken salad sandwich consisting of chicken salad and bacon on focaccia.  You put anything on focaccia and top it with bacon I’m-a-gonna-get it.  After years of equating it with tuna fish or some other mild flavored flub that elders ate, I rediscovered my self in the terms of chicken,mayo, celery (and or onion), and just a pinch of celery salt.  Years later I would come to find many great sandwich artisans that took my beloved Chicken Salad to new heights and for their valiant struggle I am forever grateful.  Best Place to get Chicken Salad (or more importantly Chicken Salad Sandwich): Cutty’s (Brookline, MA)  At Cutty’s it is not always on the menu but if you see it is the special of the day GET IT!!!! They put crunchy fried chicken skin back into the sandwich that is heavenly.

1. Mac Salad (better known as Macaroni Salad)-  The Salad Champ in my books is hands down the Mac Salad.  The shear fact that it is a staple of the Rochester NY institution known as the Garbage Plate wins the Mac Salad major bonus points in my book, but what really throws it over the top is its versatility.  Next time you find your self with some excess elbow noodles and mayo, toss in some scallions, bell pepper, pepperoni, and even a bit of sharp cheddar cheese and there you have a King family institution from many moons ago.  Best Place to Get Mac Salad: Any Garbage Plate hut in the Greater Rochester area or hit up Wilson’s Farm Cookbook (Lexington,MA) for a killer recipe.