Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Big Bear, Big Sandwiches
As much as I love sandwiching here in Los Angeles, it is always fantastic to get out of the city and enjoy sandwiches in other locales.
Mostly, I've sandwiched in other major metropolitan areas but this past weekend I was lucky enough to not only enjoy the clean air of the mountains near Big Bear, but also enjoy a sandwich from a local deli nearby.
Heading up to Big Bear with friends for their annual Oktoberfest celebration, I wanted to do a bit of research beforehand so that I could find a highly rated local sandwich shop to visit. After reviewing quite a few, and needing to find one that was dog friendly, Bear Belly Deli and Cafe immediately shone through as a standout.
Off the main road that runs through Big Bear, this shop has a wide selection of classic deli sandwiches as well as create-your-own options. While the Reuben originally caught my eye, the John sandwich quickly took center stage and became my choice.
The John is stacked high with pastrami, and is topped with pepper jack cheese, Dijon mustard, pickle chips, chopped pepperoncinis and grilled onions on a grilled sourdough.
The sandwich, as well as the ingredients list, is quite the mouthful, but the combination works.
And works incredibly well.
To start, the pastrami is tender, juicy, well seasoned, and at no point was it chewy or fatty. This is some of the best prepared pastrami I have had in quite a long time. The pepper jack cheese was only on the top of the ingredients, but was melted so thoroughly that it permeated the entire sandwich.
The added pickle chips, pepperoncinis and grilled onions complemented the meat and cheese excellently. While the pastrami had the tender bite and smoky flavor, the added vegetables brought the crunch and tangy heat. As much as I love the flavor of pickles and peppers, there was just enough on this sandwich as it avoided becoming too overpowering compared to the other ingredients.
The sourdough bread was lightly grilled and gave a bit of a crunch without becoming too much like toasted bread. The sour flavor of the bread with the smoke added by grilling fit in perfectly. Even with all of these ingredients, it stayed together until the end as well.
Overall, this was an excellent stop for anyone to make if you're in the vicinity of Big Bear Lake, and is a place that will definitely become a yearly stop of my own every year that I return.
Until next week, Readers...
The John Sandwich
**** 1/2 Stars
Bear Belly Deli and Cafe
42530 Moonridge Rd.
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315