Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Stroll through The Italian Market

Greetings, Readers!

This week, I am back in significantly warmer Los Angeles over the bitter cold that was Philadelphia last week.

During my week there, in between the snow storms, I visited the Italian Market with my family and stopped at Paesano's, a small sandwich shop tucked away on a quiet block of the market.

Despite its small size, this place is fairly well known. Recommended to me as well by the Philly Tourism Board, and visited by Bobby Flay and Anthony Bourdain, it was pretty obvious that this needed to be on my radar quite a bit earlier than it was.

Everything on the menu sounded amazing, and has a few choices for vegetarians, but the one that stood out to me the most was the Gustaio: House-made lamb sausage, sun-dried cherry mostarda, Gorgonzola spread, roasted fennel, and arugula.

This sandwich was excellent, but at first my taste buds were hit with conflicting flavors. The lamb sausage is delicious and very savory while the cherry mostarda hit with a definite sweetness that at first seemed so contradictory to the rest of the sandwich that it was...well, interesting. Each successive bite though allowed me to see how these two flavors blended so well together, giving a savory sandwich such bright spots and delicious contrast that it shone above many others before it.

The lamb sausage is delicious, did I mention that? Because it is. Seriously. It's amazing.

The arugula adds a great peppery flavor to the sandwich which was tied together in a delicious flatbread. Overall, the initial sweet/savory contrast may be intense for some, but I highly suggest you continue through and try this sandwich. It's honestly one of the best I've had in the nearly four years I've been writing this blog.

Thanks for the suggestions for Philly, more to come over the next few weeks.

Happy Holidays to all, I hope you get to enjoy many leftover sandwiches in the coming weeks.

Until next week...

**** 1/2 Stars
Paesano's Philly Style
1017 S. 9th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cold Nights on an Iron HIll

Greetings, Readers!

This week I am back in the frigid northeast city of Philadelphia. Not even 24 hours after I arrived, I was subjected to eight inches of snow, and 48 hours after that I was again subjected to about 6 more inches.

Your humble author is not built for these conditions anymore. Luckily though ,there are plenty of great sandwiches and beer to keep me motoring through the winter months here.

Only a few hours removed from my cross-country flight, I headed to one of the Iron Hill Brewery locations in Maple Shade, NJ. Their beer selection from in-house brews is impressive, but in the end I started with the Bourbon barrel-aged Old Quadfather. It's a thick, creamy dark Belgian beer with a strong bourbon flavor up front and great malt flavors on the back end. Definitely enjoyable, and at nearly 12%, you really only need one.

I went back and forth with the selection on food here since there were so many great options on the table. In the end though, I settled on the Blue Burger: an all-beef patty topped with gorgonzola cheese, bacon, cracked black pepper, lettuce and tomato. I had the patty cooked medium-rare so there was a warm pink center 

The burger was cooked well enough and had some good flavor, the problem was that it was too thin. Not Burger King or McDonald's thin, but when I head into a brewpub, I usually expect to have a hand-crafted patty of some thickness. It wasn't a bad base patty, but could have been better.

The gorgonzola added a bit of tangy, smooth flavor on top of the burger, and the bacon was strong in flavor and crispy, but not too crispy either. A delicious middle ground of bacon.

The black pepper crust added some bite to the burger and the lettuce and tomato rounded out the flavors with contrasting lightness and crispness. The bun though was nothing special really. It did its job of holding the sandwich together, but that was about it.

Overall, the visit to Iron Hill Brewery was a good one. the beer was excellent (I even bought a full bottle of their Russian Imperial Stout for later) and their food was great, even with the burger being a bit of a let down. I wouldn't let that keep me from coming back again though and trying something else on their extensive menu, I'm sure there are many things of note there.

Until next week, Readers...

Blue Burger
*** 1/2 Stars
Iron Hill Brewery
Multiple Locations

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Post-Thanksgiving Recovery

Greetings, Readers!

Hopefully you had a great Thanksgiving with family and/or friends and ate plenty of delicious food. I think one of my favorite aspects about the food on this holiday is the absolute variety and styles that come together, especially when friends and family members bring their own contributions to the table.

Oh, and the pies. Definitely the pies.

After the night is over though, I look forward to the days of leftover turkey and reheated mashed potatoes and stuffing. Here on a sandwich blog though, wouldn't it be good to craft a delicious sandwich to enjoy?

So here we go. Here's what I enjoy as a sandwich in the days after this holiday of eating and thanks.

I like to take a thick cut bread, something with a bit of heft to it. Sourdough is a good one to contrast a lot of the savory flavors in the sandwich, as long as you can slice it yourself so that it's thick enough to stand up to what we're about to put on it. Lightly butter what will be the outside of the sandwich and place both slices on a baking tray. Preheat to 400 degrees.

I take some mashed potatoes and spread it on one slice of one of the pieces of bread. Then I will pile on slices of dark meat turkey (add whichever type you'd like though) and stuffing. If you'd like top top that off with some thicker gravy, that would be a great addition too. I would suggest for the first few minutes in the oven that you keep the top slice of bread off so that the interior ingredients can cook faster. After a few minutes, put the top slice on and press down.

Ovens may vary, so just keep an eye on the sandwich but definitely less than ten minutes. You want nice warm ingredients and toasty bread. If the ingredients aren't as warm as you like, you might want to try to warm them a bit before crafting the sandwich.

Cranberry sauce can be added, but I suggest doing it after the sandwich has been cooked, either as a side or a cool contrast to the sandwich on top. Sweet potatoes can also be used if you'd like a slightly sweet contrast on the sandwich as compared to the savory main course ingredients.

Grab a crisp winter-style beer for the side too. Something like my new favorite Jubelale by Deschutes Brewery or Anchor Brewing's Christmas Ale.

So readers, that's my idea of a delicious leftover Thanksgiving sandwich. What's yours?

Until next week...