Saturday, April 28, 2018

Breakfast Sandwich #117 - Crema Cafe aka The Elusive Special

Sandwich: Southern Breakfast Sandwich
Location: Crema Cafe
Date: April 21, 2018
Cost: $11.75, comes with cheese grits and a petite salad

No doubt you've seen my previous sputterings about Crema Cafe. I've made no secret of my love for Crema and reviewed them earlier this year for Sandwich #110 and also in April of 2015 for Sandwich #20. Truth be told there was one additional visit to Crema between Sandwiches #110 and #20 but it was off the record as I was with [redacted] and we agreed that our discussions regarding [redacted] should be kept under wraps. But OH MY GOODNESS if you could have been a fly in my soup at that meeting you would never look at a sandwich the same way again.

I had no plans to visit Crema until I saw their weekend specials posted and I knew I had to try that Southern Breakfast Sandwich. The use of pimento cheese caught my eye as I've done some work in the lab with pimento cheese and found it to be an excellent option for breakfast sandwiches. The folks at Crema obviously had similar thoughts or they read about my research in one of the trade journals and decided to peer review my work. (That almost assuredly didn't happen).

The only problem with reviewing this sandwich is that it was a weekend special and by the time I post this it will no longer be available. The good news is that Crema seems to rotate popular specials such as The War Pig (which started as a weekend special at Crema but now lives life as a regular sandwich on the Off Broadway menu) so if you keep an eye on their social media you may get the chance to try this sandwich.
Perhaps the secret to getting a good photo of the menu is to write it in chalk and post it on a wall where there is a lot of natural light. 

Somebody had to be in the back and it might as well be the petite salad.
The Sandwich - Southern Breakfast Sandwich. No options are offered. Let's start with the roll - it was chewy (in a good way) but not too heavy. It was solidly up to the task of keeping everything in check. This wasn't a particularly sloppy sandwich but greens and charred onions are the types of ingredients that try to slide out the side every time you take a bite. Did that happen here? No Sir or Ma'am, not with the rustic roll on the job. There wasn't a predominant flavor in each bite, it was more about the sum of it's parts - the greens, onions, ham and pimento cheese combined to give this an earthy, salty, creamy goodness that was a refreshing change from your basic breakfast sandwich. The greens also provided a bonus crunchy texture. Honestly, the chicken egg was kind of lost in the shuffle here and if I may be frank, if not blasphemous, I don't think that it mattered. It was fried and did not have a runny yolk. The bread and sandwich probably could have held together with a runny yolk but it may have teetered right on the edge of being a sloppy mess. We'll never know for sure but I'm pretty sure I could have handled it.

The Result - 4.70 I Feel Specials out of 5 I Feel Specials. I think I've already said everything I need to say about the sandwich but I forgot to talk about the sides. The adorable serving of cheese grits and the petite salad really pulled everything together for me. Grits 'n greens - the perfect sides for a breakfast sandwich? They were on this day. Potatoes are overrated

I just went back and read my review of #62 The War Pig and it concludes with the note that perhaps that sandwich could have handled a runny yolk but it might have been sloppy. I don't know if that means I'm consistent or redundant but 117 breakfast sandwiches is a lot of damn sandwiches and there are only so many things you can say about eggs.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Breakfast Sandwich #116 - Mint Mark aka Flavor Piñata

Sandwich: Chimera
Location: Mint Mark
Date: April 20, 2018
Cost: $8

Within a few of weeks of Mint Mark opening it's doors I was receiving tips/demands that I try their breakfast sandwiches. Most recommended the Chimera although the Sunday Morning (not available on Sundays) also had it's supporters. 

While I'd been there for drinks and a few small plates from the dinner menu I had yet to make it for breakfast. The breakfast menu is only available Monday through Friday and it's rare that I go out for a breakfast sandwich during the work week unless it's a grab-n-go type of a deal. 

It was only a matter of time and on this morning I felt the call of the sandwich shortly after waking. You know exactly what I'm talking about. If you don't, I can't describe it but you might need to slather some mustard on your condiment chakras. I don't know. I'm not a doctor or a medicine man or a lawyer or even an escalator.  

Some day there will be an exhibit of my crappy menu photos at the Photography Hall of Fame and this one will probably be included. 

I sat near the window precisely to get a shot like this. Where does that jalapeño slice think it's going?

I thought cutting this in half would be problematic but I just had to see.
The Sandwich - Chimera. I was in the mood for sausage this day, actually, I was in the mood for this exact sandwich. I knew I was going to get it before I left the house so the Sunday Morning sandwich will just have to wait. (I'm looking forward to it though - a ham breakfast sandwich has to be done right and we have a couple of very solid offerings in Porter and Johnson Public House. The bar has been set.) There are no variations offered upon ordering. The sandwich is an adorable little flaker and won me over as soon as I saw it. The biscuit was crumbly and I feared the worst as I cut it in half for the crucial cross section shot. It actually held together better than I though and SURPRISE - like a potentially salmonella-laced piñata the sandwich unleashed runny yolk. I did not see that coming. What a pleasant surprise. Happy birthday to me. (It was not my birthday.) The jalapeños were milder than expected, as was the sausage. I don't know if the sausage is made in house but it had a lean and smooth texture to it. The cheddar blended well and is the perfect cheese for this sandwich. There are a lot of flavors here that mix well but none are overpowering. The biscuit just barely kept it together and if this had been a larger sandwich I don't think it could have done the job.

The Result - 4.62 Flavor Piñatas out of 5 Flavor Piñatas. There is a lot here to trumpet - flavors and sights and textures - it's a beautiful and delicious sandwich and deserving of the praise that it's supporters sent my way. I did wish that it had a little more kick, not much, just a touch. I kept expecting that little extra nudge, be it the sausage or peppers or dijonaise or some combination of those. It didn't happen. That shouldn't detract from the glory of this sandwich. I'm quibbling about personal preferences at this point but somebody has to do it. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Breakfast Sandwich #115 - TL;DR (Lab Sandwich)

Sandwich - Bacon, Egg, Cheese Spread
Date: 4/6/18

It was Friday morning and I was just going to make myself a simple breakfast sandwich and be done with it but I was struck by a bolt of inspiration and before you know it I had the lab coat and goggles out and there were beakers with colorful smoke pouring out of them and I was doing some bonafide sandwich research. What I mean is that when I was assessing my cheese situation I saw that I had cheese spread and I realized I hadn't tried it on a breakfast sandwich. I've used pimento cheese but not cheese spread. It's only a matter of time before I buy a can of spray cheese and give that a try. If you're not going to click that link regarding spray cheese just know that it contains this line - "Proponents of natural cheese cited this additive when lobbying to have Kraft’s products regulated as “embalmed cheese.” Embalmed cheese. That sounds pretty bad-ass. Cheese spread is probably a step up from spray cheese and with the Owl's Nest you get a gum trifecta - guar, xantham and locust bean. That is quite a blend of thickening agents but the product does have a smooth spreadability so they must know what they're doing.

This is pretty much the look I was going for.

This is the other side of the sandwich. Whatever. 
The Sandwich - bacon, chicken eggs, cheese spread. I already knew I was going to go with a soft scramble for this sandwich. That's been my preferred style lately. When I realized I would be using the cheese spread that's when this took on a more experimental tone that might be worth writing about. (That's debatable). I put a thin layer of cheese spread on both pieces of bread and added a generous splash of green Cholula hot sauce. The eggs turned out exactly as I wanted them.

The Result (TL;DR) - This was a winner. The most valuable data taken from this experiment was that the soft scramble eggs, horseradish cheese spread and green hot sauce combine fantastically - both texturally and flavorfully. This pillow of flavor rested on top of the bacon to create a relatively simple but delicious sandwich.

(The plan was to make this the shortest review yet. Write a brief description and then lay out the results. Throw in a photo and publish it. Simple. Then I started listening to sitar music and that changed everything. Perhaps the theme of this review is that my intentions and plans are malleable and easily thrown off course by processed dairy products and sitars. Things could be worse.)