The Perfect Sandwich

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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grilledcheese.jpg We're not sure who makes these decisions...

April is not only National Grilled Cheese Month, but also National Poetry Month.  In an effort to celebrate both, The Pop Shop in Collingswood, New Jersey, is holding their 3rd Annual Cheesy Poetry Contest, which honors the best poem, ode or haiku about the joy of eating grilled cheese at their shop.

Since they make over 30 different types of grilled cheese, they are clearly a great place to find inspiration. The contest is open to all ages with two winners being selected – one adult and one child.

To enter, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by April 24th. For full contest rules and more information about the joys of Grilled Cheese go to The Pop Shop.

Living in California, my only problem is how to collect the free lunch when I win. 

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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"Whether you’re an avid Grilled Cheese lover or want to whip up something totally indulgent (and worth it) with one of summer’s finest foods—lobster- you'll want to make this amazing recipe courtesy of Iron Chef Marc Forgione. Forgione’s unique twist on the classic grilled cheese makes the perfect mouth-watering meal."

Lobster Grilled Cheese courtesy of Marc Forgione and T-fal

lobstergrilledcheese

Ingredients:

For the Chili Lobster:

2 cups Lobster Stock (If you can’t find Lobster Stock, get seafood stock, which should be available at Whole Foods or Fox & Obels)

4 (1 1/2 pound) lobsters, claws removed
1/4 cup Sriracha
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
Juice of 2 limes
6 ounces (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided
4 tablespoons canola oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
8 slices of fontina cheese
4 slices Pullman Loaf or other high-quality thick sliced white bread (1” thick)

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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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