Sandwich Mechanics: Four Spreads and a Book

My sandwich-loving friends, I have been remiss. I've been tardy. I've been absent. I've been negligent, distant, and unattentive. I looked it up; it's been closing on two years since my last sandwich blog. What is going on, guys? [Just for] today, that all changes. Let's talk about sandwiches again, like the good old days.

Five. Five is the number today. No, I'm not going to tell you about five different sandwiches. That would be ridiculous. I have four spreads and a bonus item to tell you about, and oh have I been holding onto these in my heart for a while. Pretty much since the end of April. That's four and a half months, which is like ninety five years in sandwich time.

I received all of these items for my birthday from my dear sister, who clearly knows me very well and cares for me deeply. "Sandwich stuff," she thought. "I think he likes sandwich stuff." Understatement of the year, right? Now, I don't want to belittle her part in all this, but IT'S TIME TO TALK ABOUT SOME FRIGGEN SANDWICH STUFF.

Pesto, round two

Let's take it back old school (when your last blog post was almost two years ago, everything is considered old school, ya dork), to that time I was putting pesto on my sandwiches. Pretty cool idea, right? Yeah, my sister must have been reading my blog, because she sent me this sweet tube of pesto to try.

Wait up, hold the phone. "Tube"? Yeah, this Amore Pesto Paste comes in basically a metal toothpase tube. That's weird. It is accompanied by the usual problems associated with tube-delivered substances, primarily that as you get to the end of the tube, it gets harder and harder to get the stuff out.

The other weird problem I noticed is the consistency is a little watery, overall. The pesto is mixed with what appears to be olive oil. That's fine... you're not breaking any rules by using olive oil. But either it didn't mix properly in that tube or they put too much, because every time I squirted it out onto the sandwich, it was a bit disconcertingly watery. I do not see "sandwiches" mentioned as suggested items on the back of the tube, so I may have co-opted it for my own purposes.

In fact, that might have been enough to turn me off of it until I noticed how amazing it tasted. Just like the pesto before, the savory flavory worked so well with the other usual sandwich components. I know it's a really great sandwich when I pause mid-bite at the table where we're eating lunch at work, look real hard at the sandwich and say aloud, "GOD that's a good sandwich." I'm not even exaggerating.

So the pesto tube is down to the point of diminishing returns by now, and next time I think I'll go for the Trader Joe stuff instead, on account of better consistency, but thank you, weird metal pesto tube, for we had some fine sandwich times together.

Rooster Mayo

What do you guys think about Sriracha? I don't think I know anyone who likes spicy food but doesn't like it. My tongue--and by extension, I--was first exposed to Sriracha probably back in the summer of aught four, when I was also exposed to pho for the first time. My first thought was that it had a bit of a meaty taste, and we became fast friends.

But what do you think about Sriracha for sandwiches? My opinion, albeit without having tried it? It would be a bit overpowering. They must have been thinking the same thing, so they invented Sriracha mayo. It's a creamier version of Sriracha more suitable in consistency for a spread on a sandwich.

The fun ends with the consistency, though. The Sriracha mayo, while spicy, lacks enough of the great flavor we've come to expect from the exceptional sauce, that age-old problem with sauces that are too spicy but not spiced enough. I used it a few times, but sadly, it has fallen into disuse.

Cran Sand

The Cranberry Honey Mustard I received wouldn't be the first time I've dabbled in cranberry things on my sandwich. In fact, it wouldn't even be the first time I've dabbled cranberry honey mustard itself on a sandwich. So when I opened this one up and spread it on the bread, something reached into the deep recesses of my memories and told me it's gonna be a wild ride.

This one is not a honey mustard, just a Cranberry Mustard. Not surprisingly, it's much, much different than the stuff I had last time. It's thick, really thick, almost the consistency of honey itself. Spreading it evenly was an exercise in not breaking the bread. That's not a deal-breaker, though. Many good sauces are pretty thick. You just have to be careful how much you put.

The taste is also a lot different than before. It's sharp, really sharp, much more mustard than cran. In fact, the cran didn't shine through too much, which is a bummer for me. Though I've started acquiring a taste for mustard, I'm still on the pedestrian side; I won't go hardcore horseradish or super spicy. It was sharp, man. Frankly, I didn't like it a lot.

I tried it on a few things, just to be sure, including the bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwiches we sometimes make. Maybe that was a poor choice, because it clashed pretty badly. Oops.

Red Orange Marmalade

I had no idea when I opened my birthday package that it would contain a spread that would change my life. This next one is so good that every other spread in the world is diminished slightly by its very existence.

It's Red Orange Marmalade.

You might be thinking, that's a bit of a funny name, right? You don't normally associate oranges with marmalade... in fact what makes something a marmalade, anyway? It sounds like conventionally, it's a jam with visible pieces of fruit. Honestly, I question calling this red orange marmalade a real "marmalade". It's just a sort of preserves in a unique sauce.

It's easy for me to like this, because I love oranges. I put them on or in pretty much anything I can get away with, of course including sandwiches. This spread is even more special, though. The oranges, of course peeled, are sliced thin and stewed in some kind of slightly sweet, thick sauce (apparently the sauce is black treacle and balsamic vinegar--NICE), so their usual sharpness is beautifully offset by the sweetness. The way this taste manifests in a sandwich, mixed in among all the other components, is truly wonderful to behold.

This spread is so good I'm now on my second bottle and about to buy my third, even though it's kinda expensive. Some things are worth paying a few bucks more for.

Now, in the picture I have it straight on the bread, but I found I like it even more if I do a thin spread of mayo on the bread, then the marmalade on top of it, to keep it from soaking a bit. I do this for just one half of the sandwich. The other slice of bread gets a heavier spread of mayo. I tend to put the cheddar on the marmalade side, too, because the bottle says "pairs nicely with a finely aged cheddar." Now, I doubt my medium or sharp cheddar from the grocery store is "finely aged", but it does go nicely anyway.

The only complaint, if I absolutely must, is that it's a bit of a pain to spread. It's very sticky and is mostly made of actual orange, not preserves/gelatin, so it comes out in a clump and I spend the next minute separating out the clump into individual bits of orange to arrange evenly around the bread. Still, if that's the most of my problems, then I am in great shape.

Wait, have I been typing orange this whole time? I meant onion... oops. That's what happens when you talk about marmalade, I guess.

The Compendium of Sandwiches

I did mention a book, didn't I? Yes, there is a book involved. A book came along with these delicious toppings. It is basically an encyclopaedia of sandwiches from around the world. That's the most amazing thing, by the way. I knew, as soon as I saw that it had Vietnamese banh mi in there, that it's a great book.

It's not the sort of thing you read cover-to-cover, but I do like to open to a random page and see what's going on. I may eventually experiment with randomly making some of the sandwiches found within, but I'll have to be selective, of course. Maybe I'll try a Jucy Lucy, which to my eye looks like a cheesburger.

Since it's got a pretty comprehensive list, you get the good and the mediocre all together. Some of those sandwiches are truly uninspired, I'm sorry to say. I mean, I think I can figure out how to make a plain ham sandwich, thanks.

How about we stick to talking about the great ones, huh? Speaking of great ones, my birthday and subsequent 5 months have been awesome, thanks to my sister, and, most importantly, sandwiches.