And ever since I researched lettuce sammies for my Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps with Kimchi Chips for last month’s Let’s Lunch rendezvous, I’ve been craving actual lettuce sandwiches.
See, back in college, I didn’t have much scratch. Any extra change from my dining-hall job usually went towards a pack of smokes so I wouldn’t have to relight stubs in my ashtray (sorry, Mom and Dad).
But I’d found the greatest deal ever at the Wawa at the corner half a block from my dorm room: 25-cent lettuce sandwiches.
A soft Kaiser roll, a ton of layers of crunchy iceberg lettuce and a decent smear of yellow mustard. One or two of those paper-wrapped meals, an open window to smoke out of, a dangling preposition and the Cocteau Twins‘ Heaven or Las Vegas playing in the background, and I was a happy melancholic.
This Let’s Lunch post was all about not cooking, so instead of trying to replicate the Kaiser rolls, I had some sourdough bread that was ready to go.
At Whole Foods, I had went to town on the condiment aisle. Instead of yellow mustard (which tastes a little like pencil lead to me now), I bought Dulcet Moroccan Mustard and an Herb Mustard by Brooklyn company, Anarchy in a Jar, along with my trusty Sir Kensington’s Spiced Ketchup.
And they don’t carry iceberg, so I opted for organic mache and romaine.
I didn’t quite trust mache to carry off the sandwich — unlike the romaine — so I cheated, and as a back-up, I bought a truffled sottocenere cheese, an Italian cow’s milk that’s coated with herbs and ash, so it’s got a gray rind. You almost don’t need the rest of the sandwich if you have it. Cost for the lettuce, condiments and cheese for 4 small sammies was about $8.00.
Usually I taste test sammies before I spring them on folks, but I bumped into my neighbor Peg in our lobby as she was saying goodbye to some friends.
“Have you had lunch yet?” I asked.
“No,” she said, her eyes widening.
“I have some sandwiches I can make you,” I said. “Be right back!”
I hurried upstairs, washed and trimmed the mache, toasted six small slices of sourdough, smeared each pair with a different condiment, and topped three pieces with the mache and sottocenere cheese.
Then I rushed back downstairs with her light lunch and the condiment jars (so she could see the different flavors) on a Vern Yip-designed tray that makes everything on it look classier.
“How cute!” she said, readying for lunch at her office desk. Then she caught me off-guard in the best way by giving me a big hug. “You are a special one!”
“I’ll return your tray after I”m done,” she added, “and I’ll let you know what I think.”
Not long afterward, I got a handwritten note with the jars and the tray: “Sandwiches were excellent! And I’ll need the name of the cheese. Will talk later. Many thanks!”
I personally preferred the romaine version, because you can use the hearts which mimic that delightful iceberg crunch perfectly.
If it weren’t too hot to cook, I’d make Kaiser rolls for these sammies to save the roof of my mouth from a toast attack (as you can see, I like a lot of lettuce).
Also, it would probably take me back, Ratatouille-style to my junior-year, dorm-room window.
If you want to be Sandwich Surprised, click here to follow my Twitter account, or here to like my Facebook page or follow my blog. Then comment, post or tweet to me. If I’m in your area (I do road trip it sometimes) or if you’re taking a trip to New York City, you could get a Sandwich Surprise soon!
*Let’s Lunch is a global group of intrepid and awesome food bloggers that meets monthly for a virtual lunch date via Twitter (#letslunch), where we share posts on a different topic each time. Check out what the other Let’s Lunchers posted today!
Lucy’s The Girl in a Hat Goes on a Picnic at A Cook and Her Books
Lisa’s Aperol Spritz at Monday Morning Cooking Club
Linda’s Escape from San Francisco Picnic at spicebox travels
Cheryl’s Mango-Key Lime Pie at A Tiger In The Kitchen
Monica’s Peanut Salad at A Life of Spice
Grace’s Mung Bean Shaved Ice at Hapa Mama
Pat’s Almost No-Cook Rice at The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook