Sorry for the lack of updates, technology has not been my friend of late.  Anyway, it’s time for a review.  Today’s sandwich comes not from a restaurant, but from a bookstore.  Barnes & Noble is a large, international bookselling company.  As a reader, writer, and general lover of the English language and printed word, they are very near and dear to my heart.  Like many larger bookstores, the Barnes & Noble I frequent has a small cafe inside the store.  The cafe serves a variety of baked goods, cheesecakes, and a couple of sandwiches, as well as some Starbucks coffee products.  (Important Note: Although the cafe serves Starbucks coffee, it is NOT a Starbucks location.  The sandwich I am going to describe, as well as most of the other offerings, aren’t necessarily available at your corner Starbucks.)  The sandwich I sampled is called the Tomato Caprese.

Friday Night's Dinner, in all its glory.

Friday Night's Dinner, in all its glory.

The sandwich consisted of Mozzarella and Provolonecheese, roasted tomatoes, and a basil pesto spread on a foccacia  roll, grilled in a sandwich press.  I’m told “Caprese” refers to a type of Italian salad made up of the same general ingredients, but I’ve never had it myself.  The sandwich was decent.  The ingredients complemented one another well, and it had a strong, distinctive taste, which is pleasantly surprising in a vegetarian sandwich.  The major problem with the sandwich was the temperature.  The tomatoes may have been roasted, but they had also been refrigerated since then, and were a little too cold.  The sandwich hadn’t been evenly heated, and the cheeses weren’t consistently melted.  I don’t know whether this is a problem with the sandwich press, or whether my barista could have grilled it a touch longer.  (Incidentally, my barista was polite and attentive.  No complaints there.)  Either way, the temperature of the sandwich was its major flaw, in my opinion.

The sandwich came with a bag of lightly salted Kettle Cooked potato chips, which were a nice little side.  The meal (sandwich + chips) totaled to $6.50.  This is about the average price of the Cafe’s sandwiches, which are usually meats and cheeses grilled in the sandwich press.  It’s a little bit above my normal price range, especially since I had to buy a drink separately (as you can see in the picture, I went with a Lime Orange Mango Jones Soda, which was another $1.95).  If you’re in Barnes & Noble and need to eat a meal, these sandwiches are tasty, but the price is a little steep for my tastes.

Slow day today.  I hope to update with a more substantial post later today, but I felt compelled to share this ad with you all.  This is the original Toasty Torpedo ad, which I believe is no longer aired on television.  The campaign is still ongoing, but the current ads have the innuendo dialed down a bit.  I think it’s pretty funny, but I’ll let you be the judge.

Time for another review!!  The initial reviews/previews on this blog have been somewhat burger-oriented, so I’ll change it up with a sandwich from Jimmy John’s.  Jimmy John’s is a chain of sandwich shops specializing in sub sandwiches on fresh-baked bread.  They offer a couple dozen different sandwiches, which generally sell for about $5.  I enjoy many of their offerings, but for this review I decided on the Ultimate Porker (sandwich #17, $5.25).

It may be many things, but I doubt "kosher" is one of them...

It may be many things, but I doubt "kosher" is one of them...

The Porker consists of ham, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo, on Jimmy John’s signature bread.  It’s not the most complicated or inventive sandwich on earth, or even on the menu for that matter (#13, the Beach Club, includes items like sliced cucumber, avocado spread, and alfalfa sprouts), but it’s a study, reliable combination.  The meat is high quality, the veggies were comparatively fresh, and the mayo wasn’t overpowering, a common problem with sandwiches that use it.  Overall, it was a tasty, filling sandwich.  My only problem with it is the problem I have with Jimmy John’s sandwiches in general: they are served cold, rather than toasted.  While they taste fine, the fact that they are served cold, combined with the often simple ingredients, sometimes makes it hard to justify spending the money on a sandwich that could be made at home with relative ease.  However, the bread goes a long way towards making it worth your while, and the chain can’t really be faulted for picking a niche and sticking to it. 

As always, feel free to comment with questions, comments, suggestions, and pretty much anything else.

In addition to sandwiches, I have many other passions.  One of the most prominent is Transformers, the toyline consisting of robots which transform into cars and other vehicles.  Well, leave it to Burger King to bring these two together with the BBQ Double Stackticon, a burger tie-in to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the feature film coming to theaters later this week.

Delicious hamburgers are the right of all sentient beings.

Delicious hamburgers are the right of all sentient beings.

Now, I haven’t tried the Stackticon yet.  However, the press release describes it as including cheese, bacon, two patties, and BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Ray’s, no less).  It also explains that customers can add additional patties, similar to how some Transformers possess the ability to combine.  If this description sounds familiar, it’s because it’s almost exactly the same as the BK Stacker, a sandwich which was offered about a year ago but which I believe is no longer available.  Although this may seem to lack in imagination, it’s actually a verygood thing, trust me.  The BK Stacker was my favorite Burger King sandwich when it was offered, and I was disappointed when it was discontinued.  It’s deceptively simple, but full of flavor.  It’s not an overpowering amount of food, but certainly enough to fill you up, and additional patties can be added if you’re famished.  I hope to try this burger by week’s end, and I’ll let you know if I’m way off, but I get the feeling they’re trying to push a relatively unsuccessful burger with a (somewhat forced) marketing gimmick.  Bottom line, this sandwich is probably delicious, you should grab it while you can, before it disappears until being re-branded next summer.

P.S.  Sorry for the lack of new content over the weekend, I was out of town.  I haven’t decided on an update schedule yet, but I want to do it quite often, at least three times a week.

On Hot Dogs

June 18, 2009

This question arose from a discussion with a friend today, and it’s sort of a follow-up to the definition post.  Should hot dogs be considered sandwiches for the purposes of this blog?  I was arguing that hot dogs fulfill most of the conventions established for sandwiches, they have bread, meat and variable other contents.  The bun isn’t completely separated, but it is distinctly in two halves.  I’m curious as to what everyone else thinks.  Please vote, and feel free to post your opinion and arguments supporting it in the comments section, so we can put this thing to bed.

I recently discovered that The Onion, popular online parody news service, has a radio news section which includes several audio stories about sandwiches.  They’re quite funny, and I’d recommend browsing the site while you’re there.  No word yet on if they’re hiring a sandwich reviewer or critic, but my application’s in the mail just in case.

What is a Sandwich?

June 16, 2009

While I’m getting started, I figured I should post the definition of a sandwich, at least in the terms this blog will use.  Obviously, my definition of a sandwich won’t necessarily be the same as someone else’s, nor will it be set in stone.  The is a framework to help guide the beginning of the blog.

A sandwich, generally speaking, is a food item made from two pieces of bread placed together with some contents in between.  A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a hamburger, and a hoagie are all sandwiches by this definition.  Open-faced sandwiches, such as a hot turkey sandwich or Welsh rarebit, do not generally fit this definition, but will still be allowed.  Ice cream sandwiches, consisting of two cookies and ice cream, are not sandwiches by this definition either, but will be included anyway because they are delicious.

The jury is still out regarding wrap sandwiches, sandwiches consisting of one slice of bread (generally a tortilla) wrapped around the contents.  For the moment, I’m inclined to exclude them for two reasons.  One is a slippery slope.  A tuna salad wrap may be a sandwich, but a breakfast crepe and a burrito are similar in composition and differ mainly in ingredients.  I want a relatively clear line of what is and isn’t a sandwich.  The other is in terms of scope.  There are plenty of sandwiches for me to work through before we start on wraps (or gyros, or calzones, or anything else).

Sorry if that got a little wordy.  Of course, I welcome your comments.  If everyone feels I should include wraps or pitas or anything else right away, I’m more than willing to do so (Within reason.  Breakfast cereal is never a sandwich.).  I hope this helps for future sandwich endeavours.

Time for a review!!  Steak n Shake is generally a safe bet for sandwiches, with a menu of upscale burgers, club sandwiches and the like.  Their claims to fame are their Steakburgers, high grade hamburgers claimed to be made from “the finest of steaks”, and their milkshakes, which are available in myriad flavors and styles.  They’re currently offering two new Steakburgers, the Western BBQ and Bacon Steakburger and the Wisconsin Buttery Steakburger.  Let’s see how they stack up.

The Western BBQ and Bacon Steakburger follows a couple current trends.  It’s has bacon and barbeque sauce, of course, but it also has the obligatory crispy fried onion bits all new burgers seem to have.  It has chopped onions as well, but they actually complement the sandwich pretty nicely.  The barbeque sauce is slightly sweet, and the sandwich overall has a distinctive flavor.  If I’m not mistaken, the barbeque sauce is also available on a smaller BBQ Shooter Steakburger, but I would recommend springing for the featured sandwich.

The other new burger, the Wisconsin Buttery Steakburger, is less exciting.  The gimmick of this sandwich is the copious amounts of butter it’s cooked in, which is none-too-subtly explained in the description (it uses the words “layered” and “slathered”).  The idea of cooking a burger in butter is not new; the Culver’s franchise is centered around their “butter burgers”.  Aside from the patties, which are slightly sweet from the butter, there isn’t much else here, just cheese and some chopped onions.  A sauce or an additional vegetable would’ve been nice to help fill out the burger.

So there you have it.  Two new burgers, both available with fries for under $5 apiece.  The Western BBQ and Bacon is certainly worth trying, while the Wisconsin Buttery is less impressive.  If you’re really into butter, head to Culver’s instead.

Welcome to Sandwichtalk

June 12, 2009

As the title says, welcome to Sandwichtalk!!  Sandwichtalk is a blog in which I (and potentially others) discuss sandwiches.  This includes reviews of sandwiches, as well as recipes, news, pics, and other sandwich-related content.  This whole idea grew out of some recurring tweets on my Twitter feed (which I plan on continuing, never fear) and my long-standing love for sandwiches.  I hope you’ll enjoy it, feel free to comment or email me with feedback.