This instalment in a recurring series in which professional foodies opine on what they think makes a good sandwich great is by a fun foodie who I’ve had the pleasure of working with at the National Post. Here, the lovely lady introduces herself:
As I write this I’m obliterating a simple breakfast sandwich that’s become a regular: a toasty Ozery morning round (muesli flavor) with tahini and jam. People think it’s weird. I think it’s heavenly. When I realized I could eat (and write about it) for a living, I became the happiest gal in the world (and instantly gained 10 pounds). I worked at Toronto.com for two years and ended up writing a lot of restaurant profiles before moving on to Clean Eating magazine, where I’m Online Editor, and writing a monthly piece for the Weekend Post, which not surprisingly, has discussed many a sandwich (linked to above). I also fancy myself somewhat of a competitive eater, though I’m only ever in battle with myself. Hobbies include: surfing, eating food in surf towns, chorizo, reading Lucky Peach magazine, planning elaborate Mexican meals in my head, booze. I’m a terribly inconsistent blogger, but my blog is jessica-pollack.com.
What makes a great sandwich?
There’s definitely a chemistry that results from spotting a sandwich of your dreams. You feel it in your nether regions. It’s also apparent in a Pavlovian rush of saliva (is that just me?). A great example is the sandwich from Spanglish, which made waves in the foodie-sphere and could very well have been the movie’s shining star. For me, seeing that sandwich was much like seeing a guy or gal you know you’ll inevitably take home to bed.
After the initial pang of desire, the composite parts have to be just right. The holy grail of sammie bread is an impossibly soft pretzel bun, which is RARE! I wouldn’t kick lightly toasted slabs of sourdough, rye or challah out of bed, nor would I shun a Bagel House everything bagel. Bagels are tricky because they can’t be filled too aggressively or the sweet sweet innards slide out the sides. I like to mix my own horseradish mayo with a touch of lemon for most sandwiches, and I’m also big into a Diana sauce-mayo combo for deli meat. Anyways, whether the sandwich hugs a double-size portion of schnitzel with slaw à la Parts and Labour‘s Sunday special (an honorary must-have and mind-blowing creation) or a mere schmear of roasted red pepper cream cheese, it’s a two-pronged affair: chemistry + quality. Ingenuity and risk-taking can be great, but when it fails it burns like gonorrhea (or so I’d imagine).
If you grew up as a Jew in Toronto, or knowing Jews in Toronto, or just have a thing for bagels, you know Bagel World. My dad has always been a twister enthusiast, and with a super-crisp exterior and soft, warm inside it’s not hard to understand why — there’s a giant twister on the sign for a reason! But for me, their sandwichery peaked when they started making flat bagels. Then it reached a pinnacle when they introduced “bagellinis,” merging bagels and paninis in one glorious creation filled with tuna, cheddar, tomato and red onions. It’s huge, a hot and sloppy affair that eats like a ninth grade make-out session. The cheese is perfectly melted, lusciously draping the most simple and delicious tuna salad. The only veggies you need on a sandwich like this are the ones you get: slivers of sharp onion and thinly sliced tomato. Bonus: plenty of elderly people, run-ins with acquaintances you haven’t seen since Hebrew day school, chocolate babka.
Bagel World, four locations in the GTA, $7.99