The Perfect Sandwich

From New York Magazine 

09_sandwichoftheweek_lg.jpgNot that anyone needs to be reminded, but April is National Grilled-Cheese Sandwich Month. In honor of this auspicious occasion, we bring you our picks for New York’s best grilled cheese, from Keller-crafted high to Kraft-oozing low.

1. ’wichcraft - 397 Greenwich St., at Beach St.; 212-780-0577
Fontina with black-trumpet mushrooms and white-truffle fondue is such a grown-up grilled cheese, you should be carded at the door.

2. Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop - 174 Fifth Ave., nr. 22nd St.; 212-675-5096
This twenties coffee shop oozes so much Old New York charm that we’d happily tuck in to some Velveeta on a Ritz if that’s what it was offering. The fact that the sandwiches — including the grilled cheese — are first-rate is a bonus.

3. Comfort Diner - 214 E. 45th St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-867-4555
They get ahead of themselves here, celebrating with a different grilled-cheese sandwich every day during the month of February. But you can still get a good classic any time of the year.

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sandwich-cover-550px-300x295I recently gave a studio tour to 40+ photograph students from Long Beach City College. For the past few years I’ve been a proud member of the advisory committee for the photography department, and it tickles me to no end to meet with the students.

This year’s group was particularly bright and full of insight, asking tons of valuable questions that ran the gamut from studio management and self-promotion to the logistics of photographing food. I made sure to have the books we’ve shot on the table for the students to see, and later someone asked me about The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches It was at this point that I admitted, like I always do when people ask, that I actually took one or more bites of every single sandwich from this book.

Yes, you read that right. I tasted every single sandwich. Because this was actually work, I’ve prepared a highly scientific flow chart to show you the studio’s exact process.

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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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steaksign.jpgemily_fox.jpg I am from Philadelphia, and when I meet someone who isn’t from Philadelphia they always say “Oh! You are from Philadelphia. You must love cheese steaks,” because this is the only thing people know about Philadelphia.

Cheese steaks are embedded into the national imagination as “Philly food,” or “Philly phood” (mad men dreaming up ad campaigns for local Philadelphia business or sports teams love to replace “f” with “ph” whenever possible). Philadelphians bear this and other burdens patiently, but at a certain point, even the most sanguine lose their cool. How many times have I weathered cheese steak-related questions with the same bottled response, which is: the secret to a great cheese steak is the bread, and the secret to the bread is the water, and the water has to be Philadelphia water because otherwise it doesn’t taste quite right.

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