Sunday, July 14, 2019

Breakfast Sandwich #137 - Ancora Coffee aka For Four Fjords

Sandwich: The Number Four
Location: Ancora Coffee, King St.
Date: July 13, 2019
Cost: $8

You might recall that back in May when I was out for Breakfast Sandwich #135 I stopped at Ancora Coffee for a beverage and noted their breakfast sandwich list. That info was tucked away for future reference and accessed on this fine morning when I had time to bike down there before the Art Fair on the Square hordes started mucking up the scene.

On my initial visit in May I was smitten with the Sausage Jalapeño sandwich but an astute reader commented that The Number Four deserved consideration.

I'm here to serve the people and I saw this choice as a win/win situation.

I almost didn't see it as a choice at all - while biking down there I considered ordering both sandwiches. Part of my reasoning was that I was biking and therefore burning calories, admittedly only a fraction of the caloric explosion that two breakfast sandwiches would introduce into my framework. The thought was discarded when I accepted the realization that two breakfast sandwiches would surely cast me into a state of bloated torpor and that sounded yuckier than the joy of eating the two sandwiches.

They have options. There was also a special that involved blueberries but I was too focused on The Number Four.

The sandwich arrives in cross section mode.
The Sandwich - The Number Four. I keep saying "The Number Four" and I'm starting to feel like I'm on Sesame Street. No options are offered when you order but it's worth noting that while this sandwich comes with scrambled chicken egg some of the other sandwiches come with a fried egg. You could probably get a fried egg if that's your thing but more on that later. You might think that the chipotle aioli/cherry chutney/pepperjack cheese trifecta would make this a spicy little number but it does not. It has a touch of heat but the flavors blend well with the cherry chutney taking the helm. The chutney also has nice tamarind note that comes out with each bite. The bacon was crispier than I like it and even though I knew the eggs were going to be scrambled and therefore without a runny yolk that did disappoint me a bit. I think this sandwich could handle a runny yolk but it would be a messy little humdinger. The chutney gives this plenty of moisture and the cheese and aioli help with the viscosity. The English muffin did a valiant job of holding things together but it could only do so much and this was one of those fun sandwiches where chunks of egg squish out the other side when you're biting it. This is a not a complaint, it's a public service announcement.

The Result - 4.44 Number Fours out of 5 Number Fours. The bacon/cherry chutney pairing is what makes this sandwich but you probably already figured that out. It's a fantastic little sandwich but the overly crisped bacon kept it form pushing the stratosphere of the ratings. Bacon crispiness is a personal preference but I like to quibble with these highly ranked sandwiches, otherwise, what's the point? I'm not going to talk about the egg anymore, you know where I stand. I'm also not going to say the number "four" for awhile, or even words that sound like "four", such as "Ford" and "fjord". But I can say this - I am going to get back there for the Sausage Jalapeño one of these days. 

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Breakfast Sandwich #136 - Not a Lab Sandwich aka Which Came First, The Sandwich Or The Wrap?

Sandwich: Chicken Thigh, Chicken Egg, Buffalo Wing Monterey Jack, Avocado, Red Onion, Multigrain Wrap.
Date: July 4, 2019 

It's likely that most of you are not scientists or sandwichologists. Still, many of you are probably familiar with how laboratory testing works - you have constants and controls and you have variables that you are testing. This can be applied to sandwich construction as we've seen in previous posts.

This sandwich (actually a wrap but we're calling it a sandwich) was nothing but wild variables. It was closer to free jazz outfreakage than my normal lab work.

I thought I had items to make a breakfast sandwich. And I did, kind of. I had eggs and cheese. The lone English muffin was well past it's prime and I had polished off the last of the bacon earlier in the week. The only protein I had was leftover chicken thigh and the only decent bread-like material was a multigrain wrap. There were options for cheese but I already sensed this was going off the rails so I went with the last of the StoneRidge Buffalo Wing Monterey Jack. (Those folks at StoneRidge are doing some fine work and deserve your attention if you aren't familiar.) I scrounged for an avocado and red onion and felt like I had the makings for a decent sandwich. 

There was the question of how to cook the chicken eggs. I came *this* close to making them with a runny yolk just to see what would happen. That would have been foolish. No reasonable person would put an egg with a runny yolk into a wrap, but reasonable people don't have sandwich blogs. What would Ornette Coleman do? I settled for the responsible choice and scrambled the eggs. 

Don't worry, there is a layer of melted cheese under all that goodness. That's Cholula hot sauce.  

Aww man, I used those fancy toothpicks with the colored curly thingys and then I cropped it off cause I got excited about the gooey cheese and avocado.
The Sandwich - I think we've covered that to the extent that it needs covering. 

The Result - The flavors came together really well but it didn't taste like a breakfast sandwich and wasn't actually a sandwich and truth be told it wasn't breakfast either. I sat down to eat this at 12:10 so it was really lunch, which is where wraps belong. A wrap doesn't feel like breakfast. But let's get back to the flavor. I think the reason it didn't taste like a breakfast sandwich was the lack of fat and salt that bacon or sausage provide. So, it was a healthy breakfast sandwich that wasn't a sandwich. This was more like a breakfast burrito than a sandwich. It doesn't even belong here but it's too late now. 

Monday, May 13, 2019

Breakfast Sandwich #135 - Caracas Empanadas aka Are You Ready For Indoctrination?

Sandwich: Breakfast Empanada
Location: Caracas Empanadas
Date: May 11, 2019
Cost: $3

A trip to the Capitol Square for the Farmers Market means you will have breakfast options out the wazoo and even if you narrow it down to sandwiches you'll still have some tough choices to make. My initial thought was to hit Gotham Bagels again, but I just went there in March and they are already in the Top 25 from both visits. 

We stopped an Ancora Coffee so I would have a coffee to occupy my attention while shuffling around the square at a pace more suited to an octogenarian. As tempting as the Sausage Jalapeño Egg Sandwich was, I had to keep moving. I tucked that morsel away in case I needed a post-shuffle sandwich. That sandwich sounds worthy of a focused return trip so don't be surprised if it shows up here in the coming weeks.

Just as we prepared to join the masses I saw the Caracas Empanadas cart at the corner of King and Main Streets. Wrap that potential in pastry dough and fry it cause I'm interested!

The Caracas Empanadas cart doesn't have a proper web site but I did snap a photo of the menu board, for once.

There they are, nestled side by each. The sauce on the left is the guasacaca sauce that everyone is going bonkers over if you look up the Yelp reviews. It's also really fun to say guasacaca.  On the right is the pique sauce which I preferred.

At the heart of the matter are chicken eggs. 

The Sandwich - Breakfast Empanada. These are premade and ready to go so there are no options. Organic scrambled eggs, Nueske's bacon and cheese. I didn't know about the cult following the guasacaca sauce has until I started doing research for this review but it's a real thing. I tried both sauces and ended up using more of the pique. It's a habanero sauce listed as a medium heat but it's a bit deceptive. It starts off mild, builds quickly and then trails off. I thought it paired with the eggs perfectly but there is something about chicken eggs and hot sauce that really works for me. It's downright magical but go ahead and get all looney for the guasacaca if that's your scene, man. The eggs are scrambled and fluffy and are the predominant flavor here, other than the fried dough. The bacon and cheese get a bit lost among everything else. I'm not even sure what cheese was in here, it was probably a white cheese?

The Result - 3.8 Sauce Cults out of 5 Sauce Cults. This was wonderfully delicious little pocket of flavor and for $3 it's a damn good deal. It's enough to give you some fuel for the market but leaves for room for additional snacking, which is important. The dough held a bit too much of the fried grease flavor and that kept me from falling in love with. I also would have liked more bacon and cheese but for $3 this is a nice little grab and go sandwich. No, an empanada is not a sandwich. Nobody cares.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Breakfast Sandwich #134 - Faircrest Bakery & Cafe aka These Are Words With A "D" This Time

Sandwich: Croissandwich
Location: Faircrest Bakery & Cafe
Date: April 30, 2019
Cost: $6.99

I don't know how you're supposed to spell croissandwich. Burger King removes the "d" and puts an apostrophe in there which seems a bit highfalutin for a place that serves ultra-crappy breakfast sandwiches and managed to plague a neighborhood with rats due to their shoddy dumpster and refuse handling practices. Gross. I'm not even sure why Burger King is messing around with croissants, they haven't earned that privilege. 

Faircrest Bakery & Cafe (web site down at time of publication - Ed.) is in that cute little strip mall on Mineral Point Road just west of Cuna Mutual. They spell croissandwich with a "d" but I'm still uncomfortable with the word. I just don't care for it but that's my problem and I'm not going to hold it against the sandwich.

On this Tuesday morning I happened to be in the area and stopped in to see if they could serve me a breakfast sandwich. Worst case scenario is I come away with a muffin or a scone. My sandwich senses were right on - they have a breakfast sandwich croissandwich on the menu!

This is a terrible photo even by my standards.

Turkey sausage wrapped in a blanket of chicken egg.
The Sandwich - Croissandwich. It's the only breakfast sandwich on the menu and the only option they offer is bacon or "all natural" turkey sausage. It occurred to me that I'd never had turkey sausage on a breakfast sandwich and that was an opportunity I couldn't pass up even though it felt a little weird. I'm not sure what the "all natural" part is - no nitrates added, maybe? I'm not going to get all FDA on this and do any research so I'll just go with my assumption. From the first bite I did not regret getting the sausage - it was fantastic. I immediately wondered why turkey sausage isn't offered on more breakfast sandwiches. The only cheese choice is cheddar but it worked well with the turkey sausage and there was just enough to give the sandwich a bit of goo factor since they don't serve the egg runny. I've complained about croissants used for sandwiches in the past - they often don't hold up. In this case it worked well and was a nice squishy bread choice. I assume they make the croissants on site, they are a bakery after all. I ordered this to go and while I didn't go far the foil wrapping may have caused the sandwich to steam itself a bit, which did not detract from my enjoyment and may have even enhanced it.

The Result - 4.15 These Are Words With A "D" This Time out of 5 These Are Words With A "D" This Time. This was a very good breakfast sandwich. It was made to order, but only took a couple of minutes, and held up after a short drive. Turkey sausage deserves your consideration when offered and I feel like I should say this even though it's dumb - it tasted just like sausage! Anyway, this is a simple, tasty and filling sandwich. At $6.99 it's a touch on the pricey side but it's a quality sandwich served by a local, independently owned business that is worthy of our support. I've had enough of Panera, thanks, but no thanks. From what I've read about Faircrest Bakery while researching this review I'd like to try some of their baked goods but I'm not sure when I'll be back in the area. 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Lab Sandwiches Submitted For Peer Review

Several weeks ago I compiled a list of the Top 25 Breakfast Sandwiches of All Time with the thought that the list would be the most useful, if not the most popular, post on this site.

Today we examine the yang to that yin - a compilation of all of the Lab Reports filed up to this date. It is well established that nobody cares about lab sandwiches but that's because we live in a society that doesn't value science. In The Lab STEM stands for Sausage, Toast, Eggs and Muffins and we don't shy away from exploring hard data even if the reports end up being the opposite of click bait.

Another complaint about the Lab Reports is that there are too many of them. We now have the numbers to evaluate that statement rather than accept it at face value. Of 133 sandwiches 27 of them were Lab Sandwiches. That breaks down to 20.3% of sandwich reports coming from the lab which strikes me as a near perfect ratio. We aim to educate here and Lab Reports are part of making the readers of this blog the most informed breakfast sandwich consumers on the planet. We apologize for nothing.

This is not a cooking blog.

#2 - The Debut Lab Sandwich. Bacon
#3 - Vegetarian
#4 - Leftover Chicken Wings
#10 - Bacon, Avocado, Red Pepper, Onion, Spinach
#72 - Bacon, Kale & Swiss Cheese
#74, #75, #76 - New Toaster Oven
#77, #78 - More New Toaster Oven Madness
#79 - A Two Cheezer Jobber
#82 - Steak, Arugula, Blue Cheese
#87 - Bacon, Pimento Cheese
#89, #90 - Nueske's Ham, first attempt at Mason jar lid "puck" egg
#91 - Farm Fresh Eggs, Double Decker
#105 - Thanksgiving Leftovers
#106 - Summer Sausage
#107 - Mac 'n Cheese
#108 - Leftover Honeybaked Ham
#113 - Biscuits
#115 - Cheese Spread, Soft Scramble Eggs
#120 - The Big MacMuffin
#123 - Bacon Wrapped Kosher Hot Dog
#125 - Sourdough Bread
#126 - Chili Mac, New Egg Cooking Rings, Failure
#128 - Leftover Thanksgiving Dressing

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Saturday, March 30, 2019

Breakfast Sandwich #133 - Java Cat aka The Cat Came Back

Sandwich: Sausage, Egg & Cheese on English Muffin w/Boom Boom Sauce
Location: Java Cat
Date: March 23, 2019
Cost: $4.80

How many times have I driven past Java Cat and not checked to see what the breakfast sandwich situation is? Many, is the answer. A few of those times I ended up just down the road at Crema Cafe and that's never a wasted journey.

Java Cat offers you some options to build your own sandwich - bacon or sausage (that's standard) but the real choice is in the sandwich delivery vessel - bagel, English muffin, brioche bun, croissant or french toast. I eliminated french toast right off the bat, it gave me a flashback to the McGriddle and that didn't go well at all. This particular day was feeling like a classic sandwich day so I went the sausage and English muffin. Why mess around?

This photo is not particularly exciting, I'm aware of that.

How about if I rotate the plate a tiny bit? More exciting? No? There is value in these photos though - you can see the red pepper and evidence of Boom Boom sauce. Also, I would say that English muffin is toasted perfectly but the egg is cooked beyond the threshold of my preference. That's the way it goes sometimes, it's a jungle out there.

The Sandwich - Sausage, Egg & Cheese on English Muffin. I already covered this a bit, BUT WAIT! There's more! The menu board said you can "Add Boom Boom Sauce and red peppers for $.55". I ordered mine with Boom Boom Sauce before I even asked what it was. It turns out it's a chipotle sauce. That works for me. Java Cat offers several bread choices but they don't offer variations on how to cook your egg and they don't serve it with a runny yolk. This is where the Boom Boom Sauce really pays off, adding a pleasant viscosity that wouldn't otherwise be there. It could have handled a runny yolk although it probably would have gotten a bit messy. The sausage and American cheese were standard breakfast sandwich fare, in a good way. It all blends together into a classic breakfast sandwich taste that you know and love.

The Result - 4.00 Cat Sandwiches out of 5 Cat Sandwiches. It's a solid sandwich and perfect if you want to grab a cup of coffee and a bite before you go off to do whatever it is you do after you eat a sandwich. I ate mine on the premises but the grab and go factor is there. I'll likely come back to the Java Cat and try a bacon sandwich one of these days. I also recommend the hot chocolate although it was probably my last of the season. It's time to move into iced coffee season.

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Breakfast Sandwich #132 - Gotham Bagels aka Time To Revisit The Classics

Sandwich: Spicy Italian Sausage, Egg & Cheddar
Location: Gotham Bagels
Date: March 9, 2019
Cost: $6.25?

This trip to Gotham was an impulsive Saturday morning decision and it turns out I hadn't had a breakfast sandwich there since October of 2015. That's just silly. I know I loved that sandwich and perhaps it's a clear indication that it's time to circle back around to some of the Top 25 Breakfast Sandwiches of all time to see if they're still changing lives. 

It arrives wrapped and snug in it's paper cocoon.

I didn't take a photo of it unwrapped but you know what an everything bagel looks like, right? Besides, look at that tantalizing sandwich! If it could talk it would say something like "Hello, I'm here to make everything wonderful".
The Sandwich - Spicy Italian Sausage, Egg & Cheddar. It's not listed on their online menu and I didn't take a photo of the menu so I'm not sure of the price. I remember it was 6 something.

No options are offered when you order other than you select the type of bagel you want. I went all in with the everything bagel (the "doughnut with sprinkles" for adults). This is going to sound crazy but I ordered it to go. I didn't know it would be wrapped in two layers of paper, perfect for transport, and it also didn't occur to me that if you're going to get a breakfast sandwich "to go", a hearty bagel is the perfect vehicle for it. A biscuit? No way is a decent biscuit going to handle a journey of more than a few feet. It's unfair to ask a biscuit to do that - you might as well ask your cat to wash the windows. Most of the time you can't even get a biscuit from your plate to your mouth without some type of crumbling incident. I'm getting off into the weeds here, I don't want to sound like I hate biscuits.

The sandwich was a thing of beauty when unwrapped. Perfectly sliced with a little melty cheese sneaking out the edges it forced me to pause and absorb it's visage. The bagel really shines here, dense enough to keep everything in check but not too doughy or heavy. In fact, the egg could have been yolkier and this would have still held up. I wish the egg HAD been yolkier but the sandwich wasn't lacking the ooze factor, I'm just saying it wouldn't have hurt if it was. The sausage is the real star of the show though - they says it's spicy and it really is. Not a little bit spicy but with some real kick. I'll often add hot sauce to my breakfast sandwich if it's available but this is easily the spiciest breakfast sandwich I've gotten straight out of the kitchen. How refreshing. The cheddar cheese and egg balance and compliment the heat a bit and the whole thing comes together quite perfectly.

The Result - 4.8 Revisitations out of 5 Revisitations. I don't know why it took me so long to get back to Gotham. Looking back at my review from October of 2015 I wrote that I'd definitely be back to try the Spicy Italian Sausage Sandwich. I was not consciously aware of that on this day but maybe it lingered somewhere in my mind for over 3 years. This sandwich earned a spot in the All Time Top 25 and I think it really is an indication that I need to roll through some of the top sandwich locations again. You know, for research.

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