Gulf Coasting: The Grouper Reuben at Billy’s Stone Crab and Seafood

Grouper Reuben at Billy's

Without my quite realizing it until recently, the grouper reuben has become ubiquitous along Florida’s Gulf Coast — or, at least, the relative sliver of it that I frequent. I’ve seen it on menus in Sarasota, in Naples, in Clearwater, in St. Petersburg, in Tampa and now in Tierra Verde, a long isthmus separating St. Pete Beach from Fort Desoto Park, home to many a sprawling community of condos, a few marine supply stores, and Billy’s Stone Crab and Seafood, a little gem of a place tucked alongside an inlet from the Gulf. Continue reading

What It Is That We’re Doing Here

Red Apron Beef & Cheddar

The Beef & Cheddar from Red Apron Butcher at Union Market. Rare roast beef, atomic wiz and ranch aioli on a burger bun.

A couple weekends ago, I spent 45 minutes waiting in a line that would never move for a sandwich I would never eat.

The sandwich in question — a Wagyu beef cheesesteak — sounded like worthwhile endeavor. But it was probably not the cheesesteak that inspired most of the hundreds of people who choose to stand outside and brave the day’s unseasonably cold temperatures in a queue spanning the entire block-long glass and brick facade of Union Market. The more likely draw was the man who was ostensibly preparing the sandwich, Kwame Onwuachi, a competitor of the most recent season of Bravo’s Top Chef and, that weekend, the host of a pop-up called Philly Wing Fry, staged so as to promote his soon-to-open, much-anticipated restaurant Shaw Bijou. Evidently and much to my surprise, mine is not the only household that still watches Top Chef.

I really enjoy eating sandwiches. Even more, I enjoy eating sandwiches with other people. Over the past year or so, my sandwich-eating and -writing activity has been significantly slowed by other, far more important life priorities. I’m out of the loop, and I’ve missed the eating and the writing. I resolved earlier this year to make time to pick it back up. The Wagyu cheesesteak, with its buzzy celeb chef angle, seemed like a suitable opportunity to have a nice lunch, write an easy blog post, get some retweets, and feel like I was back on top of things.

Nonetheless, as I stood in place nearly an hour after the posted open time, with the chef still glad-handing other would-be customers, and with a single meal yet to be served, I started to ask myself what I was doing there. I didn’t start this blog to become a food scenester. I have no desire to snap a selfie with a minor reality TV star. I do not aspire to conquer Eater’s Heat Map. I’ve never been to Rose’s Luxury. That’s not what this blog is about.

The day took a marked turn for the better when I jumped ship and joined my family inside.

Some friends of ours recently took a trip through Italy, and I got to hear all about it. I introduced my wife to the glory of kolaches. We picked up a baguette and a bottle of Cotes du Rhone for our dinner that night***. I drank a truly brilliant oatmeal stout, and after everything else, I got my sandwich: a Red Apron Butcher Beef & Cheddar, which is quietly becoming one of my favorite sandwiches in the city.

The highlight, though, was watching my ten-month-old son drool over his mom’s meatball sub. While I don’t begrudge the folks who stuck around to eat at the celebrity chef’s pop-up, that is exactly what this blog is about.

Anthony Meatball Sub

Want.

*** Union Market is, admittedly, a bright, shiny monument for the yuppie takeover of Northeast DC. I hate myself for how much I love it.

Road Report: The Rob at The Independent in Tampa, Florida

TheRob_Weck

This entry represents the convergence, in a way, of several separate narratives. Continue reading

Beef on Weck is the Best Sandwich You’ve Probably Never Had

The beef on weck at Carving Room, Washington, D.C.

The beef on weck at Carving Room, Washington, D.C.

For those of us who take our sandwiches seriously, the hard-to-find PBS special “Sandwiches That You Will Like,” which aired in 2002, is well worth the considerable effort required to view it. The documentary comprises a series of narrated vignettes, each telling the story of a unique regional American sandwich. Among the stars of the show is the beef on weck, a twist on the classic roast beef that is native to upstate New York but, regrettably, mostly an afterthought elsewhere in the country. Continue reading

Go Watch “Chef,” the Best Sandwich Movie Ever Made

Jon Favreau in Chef

Thanks mostly to the increasingly limited nightlife agenda of my increasingly pregnant wife, I’ve seen more movies in the past year than in any year I can remember. These date nights and the numerous boxes of Good & Plenty I consumed along the way have been two of the more welcomed perks of our imminent parenthood. Furthermore, it had the follow-on effect of heightening my interest in last month’s Oscars, which, though mildly entertaining, was completely lacking in any recognition of outstanding sandwiches in film. Continue reading