We must give thanks to the Fourth Earl of Sandwich. Without the Earl, what would we call layered meats, cheese and veggies parked between two slices of bread?
Not that he invented the thing. The first sandwich is said to date back to Hillel the Elder, the ancient Jewish sage, who apparently had the wisdom—he was a sage, after all—to put herbs and meat from the Paschal lamb between or inside pieces of matzo bread. The 18th-century English aristocrat the Fourth Earl of Sandwich got the creation named after him apparently for no other reason than that he ate bits of meat between slices of cold bread while he played cribbage. Leave it to the Brits to take credit for someone else’s hard work. Has any culinary invention worth keeping ever come out of England?
Subs, heroes, grinders, po’ boys, paninis, hoagies, gyros, Dagwoods, Cubans and croque-monsieurs all have a place in my heart—literally, in some cases, since I can actually hear my arteries groan every time I eat another cheesesteak. What follows is a completely subjective, probably biased, in no way scientific roundup of the area’s best sandwiches. You have your own faves; these are mine. Rule No. 1: A wrap is not a sandwich.
Let’s dispense with the obvious. For a Philly-style cheesesteak, you go to Moochie’s. Good meat, good bread, just enough grease, ’Nuff said. A little less obvious is where to find a great Reuben sandwich. I’m very fond of the Reubens at Left Fork Grill and at Fat’s Grill. But the best around, in part because the ’kraut doesn’t taste canned to me, is Bohemian Brewery’s Reuben, made with fresh-sliced pastrami on home-style rye bread and washed down, of course, with the Bohemian’s outstanding Czech Pilsener.
For a classic club sandwich, look no further than The Dodo, which also sports a damned good Reuben and egg-salad sandwich to boot. For a not-so-classic club, head over to Red Rock Brewing Co. and dig into its scrumptious smoked red-trout club on pumpernickel bread, finished with red-onion marmalade, dill cream cheese, bacon, tomato and cucumbers. Did someone say BLT? That’s easy. The salmon BLT at MacCool’s rocks. So, it’s not a traditional BLT; deal with it. And for a Mediterranean variation on the BLT, nip into Caffe Niche for its PLT: Italian pancetta, balsamic roasted tomatoes, arugula and lemon mayo on ciabatta bread.
It takes some arm-twisting to get me to eat a po’ boy sandwich anywhere but in New Orleans. And there, I eat them everywhere … even at the airport bar called Jesters. I have, however, located a good approximation of a NOLA po’ boy, and it’s at The Bayou, where you get your choice of cornmeal-crusted catfish, crawfish or oysters (why not shrimp?). It’s all served on a light, crusty hoagie-style bun as God intended. As for a NOLA-style muffuletta, well, it might not be identical to the famed Central Grocery’s, but Caputo’s Market & Deli has you covered: ham, salami, mortadella, cheese and tapenade on a French roll.
I’m partial to the meatball sandwiches at Caputo’s and Moochie’s but, lately, I’ve found myself drawn to the excellent meatball sub at the new Rovali’s Ristorante Italiano in Layton. The light (not too dense) homemade balls are nicely spiced and topped with mozzarella, green peppers and Rovali’s’ rich meat sauce. Its Imperiale sandwich is also splendid. But the mother of all Italian subs is Granato’s “Godfather” sandwich with an array of Italian cold cuts, banana peppers, oregano, onions, artichokes, tomatoes, lettuce, provolone, oil and vinegar and, I think, a hefty chunk of the kitchen sink.
I get verklempt when I’m around grilled cheese. For a no-holds-barred cheese orgy, I head to Mimi’s Café for its Five-Way grilled cheese: mozzarella, Monterey jack, cheddar and Swiss on cheesy garlic-Parmesan sourdough bread. On the other hand, I’ve always been fond of the more standard cheddar-and-Swiss grilled-cheese sandwiches at the Deer Valley Resort day lodges. But my No. 1 favorite übercheese choice is Avenue Bakery’s provolone, asiago and brie on grilled rosemary bread. As for ham and cheese, you’ll need to travel up to either Bountiful to Plates and Palates for its delectable Black Forest ham & Swiss with herbed mayo or to Deer Valley’s Bistro Toujours for a damned respectable croque-monsieur with ham and Gruyere, topped with cheese gratin. Better still; go big with the croque-madame, which features a fried egg on top.
Thanks to the heavy dose of Hispanic culinary influence in our area, there’s no shortage of Mexican eateries serving good tortas. My favorite, though, has to be the torta sandwich at Salsa Leedos Mexican Grill. It’s a 10-inch torta bun (similar to a hoagie) stuffed with pork carnitas, black beans, guacamole, Monterey jack cheese and pico de gallo. As for tacos—which I suppose is a south-of-the-border variation on a sandwich—the goat and lengua tacos at Taqueria Piedras Negras are still numero uno in my libre.
My favorite garden burger is the one at Good Thymes Bistro in Park City. It’s a jumbo-size veggie burger dolled up with rockin’ red pepper aioli, avocado and pico de gallo, and a big pile of homemade potato chips alongside. As for falafel, well, need I but mention Mazza?
For the ultimate all-beef hot dog steer yourself to Midvale and Johnniebeefs Chicago Dog. The incendiary Polish Fire Dog is also magnifique! And always expect the unexpected at The Metropolitan which, in an upset, gets my vote for best burger. If I must die in the act of eating, I hope it’s inhaling a Metropolitan Kobe beef slider.
Every year, Wine Spectator bestows deserving restaurants around the world with its awards. They were created to honor restaurants with very high-quality wine lists in three categories: Award of Excellence, Best of Award of Excellence and the Grand Award. Grand Award recipients are few and far between and include world-class eateries like Alain Ducasse Au Plaza Athénée, Aureole, Charlie Trotter’s, Daniel and … well, you get the idea. But the Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence is also a very high mark to hit. Wine Spectator describes it thusly: Our second-tier award, created to give special recognition to restaurants that clearly exceed the requirements of the Award of Excellence; these lists display vintage depth or excellent breadth across several wine regions. So, congratulations to Park City’s Bangkok Thai and The Glitretind at Stein Eriksen Lodge for recently being awarded the Best of Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator.
Anyone who reads my columns regularly knows I’m not a vegan. Mea culpa. But I really do like natural foods when they’re well prepared. And so I’ve been toying around with recipes from Heidi Swanson’s new book called Super Natural Cooking: Five Ways to Incorporate Whole and Natural Ingredients Into Your Cooking ($20). Trust me; the recipes and advice are much less cumbersome than the book title. For my money, the best thing about Super Natural Cooking is that it’s chock full of recipes made for an unhealthy heathen like me. That is, it’s not all about tempeh and tabouleh. She includes recipes that even the kids will like such as Gnocchi all Romana (with sun-dried tomatoes), Beluga Lentil Crostini, Crusty & Creamy Giant White Beans, Spring Minestrone and dozens more recipes that really are delicious, despite the lack of meat, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colorings, and so on. I’ve become addicted to Swanson’s Chili-Spiced Caramel Corn.
Quote of the week: I got, uh, brown sandwiches and, uh, green sandwiches. It’s either very new cheese or very old meat. —Oscar Madison, The Odd Couple
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