The Perfect Sandwich

believein.jpg The 2008 National Grilled Cheese Month Campaign kicks off at Clementine on Tuesday, April 1st with an exciting and diverse field of grilled cheese candidates. Grilled Cheese Primaries will be held at Clementine during the first 4 weeks of April. Each week, five different sandwiches will campaign on the menu and when you order a sandwich, your vote will determine which sandwiches earn a spot on the ballot for Super Cheeseday(s), April 28-30. Your votes on Super Cheeseday(s) will determine the winner, our next Commander in Cheese, the Highest Sandwich in the Land.

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zings1.jpg I have a vivid memory of my parents entertaining friends on Christmas Eve in 1982.  My mother threw all of her Protestant tradition out the kitchen window and ordered Zingerman’s pastrami on rye sandwiches with giant garlic pickles.  I was enthralled by this rebellion at age six, although I had no understanding of what pastrami was. I just knew it was special.

The ingenious ingredients and thoughtful, bountiful preparation is half of the magic pf the pastrami sandwich.  The other half is the Zingerman's magic, the palpable feeling of community provided by the owners, Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig, who instill in all of their endeavors a familial rhapsody. (I have dined at the Roadhouse and had Ari come to the table to fill up my water glass more than a few times…enough said).  In a town high on intellect,  Zingerman’s employment is looked upon as social cache (or junior college).

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worldseries2007.jpgIt's hard to believe that baseball season is about to begin again. I see bits and pieces on the news about players reporting to Spring training. I see photos of fathers and sons dressed up in their player's favorite jersey, watching an early practice, hoping to get an autograph. The excitement is building of those summer nights at the ballpark; that all-American warm, fuzzy feeling most folks associate with baseball.

My thoughts are far from warm and fuzzy, more like torture and terror. On October 30, 2007 at 2:30 am, my phone rings. I struggle to find the phone, wondering who died. I hear a voice "Hello, this is Scheduling, can I speak to Laura." All I can say is "yes?" "Laura, we have a trip for you. You are going to fly to Denver and then to Boston and back to Atlanta today." Excuse me, it's 2:30 am, is this a joke? When did we start flying to these destinations in the middle of the night? I'm not sure what I said but I get an answer.

"The Boston Red Sox won the World Series a few hours ago and by the way, you are the Flight Attendant in charge." (I’ve since learned that no team would jinx their chances of winning by booking the plane home before they actual clinch the trophy.) 

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sandwich.jpgamy_ephron_color.jpg My family likes sandwiches.  My present husband had his bachelor party at Langer’s.  The day before our wedding, while I was at a ladies’ lunch thrown by my sisters, my husband, his son, my son, his daughter’s boyfriend, my brother-in-law, and one of my nephews went to Langer’s Deli (across the street from MacArthur Park) and ordered pastrami sandwiches, lots of them, I understand, more than one apiece.  And it was further evidence to me that I was marrying the right person.

In our family, we think of sandwiches as comfort food.   The slightest thing, a bad grade, a lost soccer game, a minor heartbreak can prompt any one of us to say, “How do you feel about a sandwich?” – which is code for:  Let’s all jump in the car and go to the fish market in Malibu, Bay Cities in Santa Monica, Bryan’s Pit Barbecue in the Farmers’ Market...” or any number of other places where they have a great sandwich.  

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po-boy.jpg Ask any New Orleanian where to get the best po-boy in the city and almost every single one will tell you to go to a different place. Po-Boy restaurants are as much a part of personal identity as the neighborhood you grew up in – like a family heirloom, po-boy preference is often handed down from generation to generation. And while die-hard patrons of Parasol's refuse that anywhere else makes as good of a roast beef po-boy, those who are loyal to Mother's will tell you that their roast beef debris simply can't be beat. And who could forget Ye Olde College Inn – a New Orleans staple.

There is one important thing to remember about po-boys – allegiance aside, its pretty hard to find a bad po-boy anywhere in this city and its nearly impossible not to stumble upon an amazing one (or two or three). The very essence of the sandwich is heaven, and once you try one, the hoagies, subs, phillies and other sandwiches of the world will simply never compare.

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