Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Autumn, Here We Come

Greetings Dear Readers!

Can you feel it yet? Can you feel the cool Fall weather?

If you live in Los Angeles, the answer is probably "no" but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy the flavors of fall.

What I'd really like to do in this week's blog is really discuss some of your favorite fall flavors and establish what types of sandwiches I will be looking for as the weather cools down on our road to Winter (aka 70 degrees and still barbecue weather in LA).

This is the season in which hearty soups become increasingly more acceptable as a pairing with your favorite sandwich.

No more cool avocado and green onion cold soups to pair anymore. Now the ones you should start considering are the gourd soups: pumpkin and butternut squash. Both are a bit thicker, with smooth flavors that in their own right can be a standalone meal.

But what could be better than pairing one of those hearty soups with a sandwich to dip into it.

Which leads me to one of my favorite sandwiches, and one that I will be on the lookout for in the coming months to review.

Grilled Cheese.

Such a simple sandwich whose first enjoyment goes back to my childhood, but one that can be made even better by upgrading your ingredients and adding some extras (which typically will then qualify it as a melt).

Some of my inspirations have come from the excellent food magazine Bon Appetit (if you haven't checked them out before, you absolutely should). They have an amazing article on how to make the perfect grilled cheese (here) and some recipes for taking your grilled cheese game up a level (here).

And of course, while you're sitting down, enjoying the cool fall air while you eat your grilled cheese sandwich and butternut squash soup, make sure you finish it off with some pumpkin beer. Shipyard's Smashing Pumpkin (which I've added cinnamon to in the past) is a great pairing as is Dogfish Head's Punkin' Ale. If you want something to warm your insides more with a higher alcohol content, The Bruery's Autumn Maple Ale substitutes yams for pumpkin (and kicks it up to 10% ABV).

So what about you, Readers? What are some of your favorite fall sandwiches and flavors? Leave a comment  and let's explore some fall flavors together.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

So long Summer, So long Ohio

Greetings, Readers!

This post is a little bit bittersweet, as it contains the review for the last sandwich I had on my Ohio trip this time around.

Like I had mentioned in the first post of this trip, I was in Ohio for a wedding which took place at Mapleside Farms in Brunswick, OH.

If there's something I miss with living in Los Angeles, it's living closer to apple orchards (the closest ones are more than an hour and a half east of here), so it was great to not only visit one, but to witness a wedding there. I can only imagine how gorgeous the trees would look in late October, but for today is was sticky, hot and humid.

But luckily, no rain.

Sitting down in the cool air conditioning at Melrose Grille after the ceremony I was looking for a good summertime sandwich. The Beef brisket sandwich stood out to me immediately.

I figured with the summertime coming to a close, this might be the best way to end my summer sandwiching adventures.

The thick sliced brisket starts off by being smoked by applewood from the orchard's trees. After being slow cooked in the house barbecue sauce, the brisket is piled onto a bun and topped with cheddar cheese and cole slaw.

The brisket was excellent. The apple smoke gave the brisket a nice smooth smoky flavor, while the barbecue sauce gave a strongly tangy flavor to the sandwich creating an excellent contrast. The cheese also played into the smoke flavor with its own mild and smooth contribution while the cole slaw added a slightly sweet flavor to the mix. All of this contrasting and complementary flavors played off of each other to create an amazingly delicious summer sandwich.

The bun could have been a bit better as it tended to be soggy towards the end, but it did its job for the most part thought it had nothing spectacular in the way of flavor.

It's just a shame that this place is so far removed from Cleveland that it's not actually easy to get to, unless you happen to be in the area.

Ah well.

On our last night in Cleveland we stopped at a highly recommended bar called The Beer Engine in Lakewood. This place is a beer lovers heaven. The menu is thick both with beers on tap as well as bottles/cans. The first one to stand out to me was a beer that I had been wanting to try forever, Southern Tier Brewing Co.'s Pumking Pumpkin Ale.

This beer smelled like warm pumpkin pie and tasted like it too, with just a hint of vanilla.

Definitely a great way to end a trip to Ohio, and definitely a great way to begin the transition to Autumn food and drinks.

So now with the Fall officially beginning this weekend, what sandwiches are you looking forward to having the most to get you in the mood for the season?

Until next week...

Beef Brisket Sandwich
**** 1/2 Stars
Melrose Grille
294 Pearl Road
Brunswick, OH 44212

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It's Reuben Time

Greetings, Readers!

After my successful first day in Cleveland, which I wrote about in last week's entry, I was still up for seeing more of what this city could offer me in terms of delicious sandwiches.

But the question becomes, how do you really even attempt to beat one of the best pulled pork sandwiches you've ever eaten?

You take on a Reuben.

But the trip to get this Reuben was not exactly easy. I was taken on a tour of the backroads of a rural area outside of Cleveland and I'm not going to lie here, Readers, but this shop may be one of the hardest places to find.


Having arrived at Columbia Beverages & Deli though, I was pleasantly surprised by their deli counter and the sandwiches offered, even though I may never have given any of the other sandwiches a second look as soon as I noticed the option of a Reuben.

This sandwich is stacked high with corned beef that honestly just melts in your mouth. It's full of spiced and briny flavor that just beats up your taste buds with every bite and there's just so much of it that it took me a little bit to decide how I should even take the first bite.

The Thousand Island dressing and melted Swiss cheese add a great smooth flavor to the sandwich that are more mellowed compared to the flavor of the corned beef. There's a good amount of both ingredients ont his sandwich, but not too much as to overpower the flavor of the meat.

Topped off with a dose of crunchy sauerkraut and lightly grilled rye bread, this sandwich was excellent. The bread was also thickly cut which helped the sandwich hold up with so much internal deliciousness.

I wish more sandwiches had this kind of thickly cut bread.

Overall, this sandwich was excellent. A great Reuben, filled with so much that holds together until the end and despite filling you, leaves you wanting more.

If I had to go on my own, I probably would have gotten lost, but it would have been worth it to find a sandwich like this.

That's 2 for 2 Cleveland...what will you have next week?

Reuben Sandwich
**** 1/2
Columbia Beverages & Deli
25011 Royalton Road
Columbia Station, OH
(Corner of Rt 252 and Rt 82)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Great Lakes, Great Sandwiches

Greetings, Dear Readers!

This past holiday weekend I headed to Cleveland for a wedding on this beautiful holiday weekend, and I was able to make some time to be able to sample some of the delicious sandwiches there.

It's been awhile since I've been to Cleveland (visiting Melt in 2010) and I had a list of a few places that I'd want to visit, most notable of which was Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Having increased my knowledge and love of homebrewing since Charlene gave me my first brewing kit two and a half years ago, I have always wanted to go on brewery tours to see how the bigger companies do it.

So prior to eating and drinking at Great Lakes Brewing, we were walked through the process, sampled their beers and smelled the scent of their Christmas Ale (which I'm told is amazing) as it cooked.

After learning their process, we sat down to dinner at the brewpub across the street. I quickly settled on the Pulled Pork Sandwich because the BBQ sauce in the sandwich was made with their Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, which easily turned out to be a favorite of mine.

The porter has a chocolate, coffee and smoky flavor that when cooked down into a BBQ sauce adds a little sweet and smoke flavor to the sauce.

Cooking the pulled pork in that BBQ sauce made the pork tender and juice as it fell apart in your mouth with a sweet and tangy flavor.

Topped off with a mound of cool and sweet cole slaw, which added a needed textural crunch, this may be one of the best pulled pork sandwiches I've ever had.

Great Lakes Brewing Co. will definitely be a place that I will be visiting in the future on my next trip to Cleveland.

Now if only I can get their beer sent out to Los Angeles...namely that mystical Christmas Ale.

Besides my trip to the Brewery I also was able to tour The Federal Reserve, and catch an Indians game at Progressive Field (Jacobs Field for those die-hards) which was enjoyable. Although Cleveland lost 12-7 against Oakland, it was great to see a game in another city. As a baseball fan, it's also a lot less stressful to watch a game between two teams you're not particular a fan of (though I did buy some Indians merchandise).

I had a sausage sandwich but was actually too hungry at that point and forgot to take a photo of it.

Ah, well.

These two stops were just the first day of my trip to Cleveland, so be sure to come back next week for the second of three stops in the 216.

Until next week...

Pulled Pork Sandwich
***** Stars
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
2516 Market Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113