Thursday, April 30, 2015

YOBS (Year Of the Breakfast Sandwich) pt. III

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world (such as San Francisco)
And you may ask yourself
Well...Where can I get a breakfast sandwich in this town?

That's a nice little list and it includes a fun map.

But you may find yourself in New York City, in which case this list is going to steer you in the right direction. It also has a fun map. Check out #7 from Blue Smoke, made with burnt ends of their brisket. Damn. There is also a place called Pig's 'n Thighs (#9) that has a sandwiches called "Banjo" and "Hippie Banjo". I think they may be pandering to Banjo players but I'm not against that. There are some diverse options on that list and I support that.

Indirectly related to breakfast sandwiches is this guy ranting about bacon. Note that he published that piece on January 7, which is the same day I declared 2015 the Year Of The Breakfast Sandwich. I guess we had completely different attitudes on that day but I get where he is coming from.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #21 - Dunkin Donuts (DD) aka the "D" Stands For Dry

Sandwich: Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a Bagel
Location: Dunkin' Donuts, Park Street
Date: April 25, 2015
Cost: $3.29

I love donuts. When I was kid Dunkin' Donuts were my favorite, but that was long before Greenbush Bakery opened on Regent Street. I haven't been to a Dunkin' Donuts in years but every once in awhile some will show up at work and I always eat one, or two. Sometimes I'll have even have one with sprinkles.

I'm not sure when they decided to get into the lucrative breakfast sandwich game, but I know I've seen their television ads promoting such things. They're always pushing their coffee too, it seems to be popular, even if it isn't "The Best Coffee In America".

At some point they started using DD as shorthand for their name which is probably an attempt at rebranding a la KFC/Kentucky Fried Chicken. I'm sorry, but DD will always be Donald Driver in my book.

Having said all that, I was driving up Park Street the other morning, I had The Dusties Storm with Lady P on the radio, it was beautiful outside, and everything seemed right with the world. I saw the Dunkin' Donuts sign looming over the road and I knew it was time to try one of their sandwiches.

Who knew there are so many options? Flatbread?

Kind of just sitting there.

Crappy cut job courtesy of me and a dull knife.
The Sandwich - Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a Bagel. I didn't know how many options they offered for breakfast sandwiches and when confronted with the drive through menu I just went for the bullseye and picked the item in the middle, although I did not get the "combo". I believe this was the first breakfast sandwich I've ordered on a bagel. It was high time to branch out a bit.

In the drive through I noticed that there was a Chevy truck in front of me and a Chevy Tahoe behind me. I drive a Chevy truck. Amateur market research suggests people that drive Chevy's like the Dunkin' Donuts drive through. Additional research suggests those drivers should stick to the donuts (with sprinkles). 

The Result - 1.27 Chevy's out of 5 Chevy's. It probably took me between 8-10 minutes to get home so it's possible that the sandwich would have been slightly better had it eaten it right away, but I doubt it. From the first bite the bagel soaked up all the moisture in my mouth. It was chewy and doughy in a bad way and I couldn't really taste the bacon or cheese. I could taste the egg a little, but mostly I could only taste dryness. "Dry" shouldn't be a flavor when you're talking about breakfast sandwiches. 

It just wasn't good, at all, but it didn't taste bad. There really isn't much more to say about it but if your basement ever floods I would suggest throwing a dozen of these bagels down there. They should take care of the problem in short order. 

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #20 - Crema Cafe aka Dining In The Eye Of The Hurricane

Sandwich: Breakfast Sandwich
Location: Crema Cafe
Date: April 19, 2015
Cost: $6.00

There almost isn't a reason to say anything about Crema Cafe as way of an introduction. Everybody already knows it's awesome or they probably haven't heard of it at all. It had been at least a year since I had stopped there for a breakfast sandwich but I know they make a great one. From day one it was always a ringer for inclusion here.

If you know about Crema Cafe you know that 10:30 on a Sunday is probably the worst time to go there. They had a decent line and it did move fairy quickly, but I forgot to order the side of Gouda grits so I had to go back through the line. By then the quotient of deluxe baby strollers had increased by three fold. The place was crowded and they kept coming though the door, but the food didn't take too long.

Words describing the sandwich and other stuff.

They were lined up side by each, they were.

Squaring off.
The Sandwich - Had to get the Breakfast Sandwich. Ham & Jam* was tempting but I wanted to see the kitchen's fastball. First, I like the a la carte sandwich. No need for superfluous sides (Gouda grits are not superfluous.) You can see that the sandwich came out in its Sunday best. Right away the bacon flavor was cutting through as it should. I've had a couple of episodes recently of bacon getting lost in a sandwich and it's kind of a crime. The egg, bacon, cream cheese and greens were great sandwich party minglers. I didn't really investigate the greens too closely until I looked at my photo of the menu and it said frisee, but it had arugula on it also. The green ratio on this sandwich was perfect, there is a nice little crunch but I didn't feel like somebody was trying to serve me a salad on bread. It's a bit of a sloppy sandwich but the ciabatta had a toothy grip on everything and that was appreciated.

The Result - 4.71 eyes of the hurricane out of 5 eyes of the hurricane.  There is something to be said of a sandwich that is so good you don't even care that Moms are standing next to your table comparing their hipster babies. I think a lady at the next table actually gave birth to a baby girl and named her Gouda**, but I was too engrossed in my sandwich to really notice. There really isn't anything wrong with this sandwich but it's not perfect. I think we're getting into personal preference here but if I was going to change anything, I'd go lighter on the cream cheese and order the egg over medium so it's a little runny. Extra points for the sandwich coming out cut and plated so nicely. That seems like a minor detail but I think it's important. 

I don't even know what a sandwich that rates a 5 would be, hopefully I'll know it when I taste it. What will probably happen, if there ever is a sandwich that rates 5, is people I know will go get it and then tell me why it ISN'T a 5. It sounds exhausting already. 

* I had a bite of the Ham & Jam and it definitely has potential.

** I went to a web site and ran a name analysis on the name "Gouda":

The name of Gouda will make this youngster head-strong and self-centered, yet she will have a happy-go-lucky outlook on life. She will enjoy meeting people and will make friends easily; however, being expressive and positive in opinion, she could be very cutting and sarcastic at times and will always want the last word in an argument. She will have musical ability and will love to sing, but will find it difficult to follow a routine, and without proper discipline her efforts will be scattered and incomplete. Her emotional nature will create a desire for rich foods and could bring health problems with the liver and kidneys, as well as skin eruptions, particularly during the teenage years.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Further Proof That 2015 Is The Year Of The Breakfast Sandwich

A few weeks ago the annual Isthmus Dining Guide came out and it had a feature article that essentially did a drive-by of the Madison breakfast sandwich scene. Is it really a "scene"? Probably not. I don't think the article is online or I'd link to it. My point is that I took it as confirmation that 2015 is indeed The Year Of The Breakfast Sandwich.

Earlier today an astute reader passed along this article from a newspaper in New York that expounds on the simple pleasures of the classic breakfast sandwich, or BEC, as he says. I wasn't familiar with that shorthand and probably won't ever use it, but I like it anyway.

I can get behind some of the sentiments expressed in the article but I also have no problem with fancy cheeses, designer bacon and creative pectin products, as long as they all come together and sing in perfect tastebud harmony. Besides all that, we don't have breakfast food carts and bodegas or even real bagels if you ask anybody from New York (seriously, don't ask them).
Update 4/14/2015. Several people sent me articles related to sandwiches yesterday. If we were to make a chart showing media coverage of sandwiches there would be a huge spike right around yesterday and today. I wonder why that is.

Gawker responds to the New York Times piece.

Jezebel jumped in with a poll about your breakfast sandwich preferences. I don't like to compartmentalize my preferences in this way.

Rob Thomas at the Cap Times did some dark research at Taco Bell.

The New York Times followed up with a Field Guide To American Sandwiches, not including breakfast sandwiches. I haven't had time to read it so maybe I missed a mention of breakfast sandwiches.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #19 - The Egg & I aka Making Up Stories To Compensate For A Unremarkable Sandwich

Sandwich: Deluxe Egg Sandwich
Location: The Egg & I
Date: April 12, 2015
Cost: $8.99, with grits or ranch potatoes (or a fruit cup that wasn't listed)

I hadn't noticed The Egg & I until I started this blog. It's in that newish office building across from American TV Ashley Furniture on the Beltline. It has all the look of a franchise, and it is, which I learned when adding it to my list of breakfast sandwich destinations. It says they were started in Fort Collins, Colorado and looking at the little map on their site it appears they have about 100 locations but only one in Wisconsin. Their site also says, "From humble roots, it has expanded across the nation based on the simple premise that friendly people serving delicious food matters." I only list that here to say that our waitress was indeed friendly.

Just in case you are wondering about the rest of their menu options but don't actually want to read the menu, they have this information - "We also offer an assortment of non-egg dishes", which sounds like something Smoove B would say.

If I were to make a list of people that I would most enjoy sitting down to have a breakfast sandwich with, Smoove B would be near the top of the list, along with Karen Carpenter, Bullwinkle J. Moose, Fred Biletnikoff and Audrey Horne. That would be a heck of a kaffeeklatsch.

Here is what I imagine each would order:

Smoove B - one egg, over-easy, a thick slice of country ham with red eye gravy and a schmear of Camenbert on thick slices of the finest french bread. He pulls two cloth napkins from his suit pocket, tucks the corner of one under his collar and spreads the second across his lap. After breakfast his suit is spotless and he picks up the check. Nothing but class, this guy.

Karen Carpenter - half an English muffin (dry) with one egg white, scrambled. That's not a sandwich, Karen, you need some cheese and meat on that thing. How about we add a pinch of parmesan cheese with a teaspoon of canned tuna (packed in water) on it? Fine. It still sounds kind of terrible. She doesn't even eat the whole thing.

Bullwinkle J. Moose - I'm not sure herbivores know anything about sandwiches but I think he'd start with a multi-grain bagel, arugula, one egg, over-hard, minced tall grasses and a heaping of snozberries. He eats the entire sandwich in one bite.

Fred Biletnikoff - he seems like a sausage kind of a guy. Sausage with two eggs over hard on rye toast and the whole thing covered with nacho cheese sauce to make your hands feel like stickum while you eat it. He doesn't use any napkins.

Audrey Horne - English muffin spritzed with black coffee, one egg, poached, cream cheese with a small slice of cherry pie smashed on top. Served open face. She eats it with a fork and knife.
That * means you can order the egg how you like, which I appreciate.

Ham folds.

I like those deli sandwich toothpicks.
The Sandwich - I ordered Deluxe Egg Sandwich with the egg over medium and it came with the proper amount of runny consistency. The first half of the sandwich went down quickly but I was pretty hungry by the time we got there. After the palette cleansing fruit cup (not listed on the menu, but offered by the waitress) something took a turn. I wasn't into the ham all that much. I wasn't really tasting the Harvarti dill cheese or the bacon either. I'm starting to think bacon needs to stand on its own on a breakfast sandwich or it gets lost among the other meats. I don't think of it as a subtle meat, but my view is changing on that. The sourdough bread was good and kept everybody in line. I'm not quite sure why this didn't hit home like it probably should have. I guess I'm not much of a ham guy. I really like great ham but mediocre ham just doesn't cut it and thats how I was feeling about this ham. The tomato slice was predictably sad. By the time I finished the sandwich a feeling of mediocrity had settled into my belly.

The Result - 3 shrugs out of 5 shrugs. Probably would have rated a little higher if it was $6 but nothing about this sandwich really stood up and made me take notice. I suspect by the end of April I'll have no recollection of this sandwich whatsoever.

Did I say the service was prompt and delightful and my dining companion's huevos rancheros or whatever it was tasted pretty dame good? It's true. That Green Chili Chicken Hash on the menu sounds good too.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Diversions - It's Masters Week. Pimento Cheese Sandwiches.

Everybody knows that the Augusta National Golf Club hosts The Masters Golf Tournament each spring. Not everybody knows that Augusta is famous for their pimento cheese sandwiches.

I found this post last year and used the recipe to make a version of the Augusta pimento cheese sandwich. I have no way of knowing if it is actually like the sandwiches sold at The Masters, but they were mighty tasty, I can tell you that.

His recipe made 20 sandwiches, almost two loaves of white bread. I'll probably halve the recipe this year.

Photos from the 2014 batch.

20 sandwiches

Monday, April 6, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #18 - Manna Cafe aka I Found An Easter Egg In My Sandwich

Sandwich: Cravenous Carnivore
Location: Manna Cafe
Date: April 4, 2015
Cost: $8.95, served with fresh fruit, pan-fried potatoes or greens with dressing.

Manna Cafe has been around for at least a decade, right? I don't get there often considering that it isn't too far from my house. Once I checked their menu online I knew I'd be visiting soon, all three of their breakfast sandwich offerings sound fantastic. I was hesitant to go there on Easter Sunday figuring it would be extra crowded but I got out of the house early and beat the rush for the most part.

Tantalizing trifecta.

Featuring swine!

The Sandwich - My first thought was to get the Southern Charm but it was Easter and I was having pork products later in the day. A reasonable person would have chosen the Garden Goodness but the sweet potatoes scared me off. They always do. I don't trust them. I like them just fine but they tend to come on too strong and my taste buds get distracted. I was not feeling reasonable so I ended up with the Cravenous Carnivore which is loaded with bacon AND sausage, thus eliminating the usual choice between the two. I ordered it with the side of greens with the idea being that those would somehow offset my pig intake for the day, or at least be lighter in the belly. I can unequivocally state that I was not observing Passover in any manner whatsoever.

So, anyway, the sandwich comes with the chicken egg scrambled. I've debated trying to order the eggs differently at places that don't offer you the choice of egg style but so far have resisted. I feel like I should get the sandwich as offered and if they let you choose how you want the egg cooked - bonus points! Also, if I start veering off the menu it's a fine line between getting the egg cooked over-medium and requesting the sandwich be dusted with wasabi and sprinkled with lipids. I would have preferred the egg over-medium. Not surprisingly, this sandwich is very dense. It's packed with pork product and then you add the egg and the cheese, it's heavy-duty. The sausage is excellent, which is good, because it pretty much took over this sandwich. Along with the basil pesto those are the predominant flavors here which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The rustic roll is chewy in a good way and hearty enough to keep all of this together.

The Result - 3.97 pork bellies out of 5 pork bellies. This was a really good sandwich but it just didn't get into exceptional territory. The sausage and pesto completely took over and like I said, that really isn't a bad thing, but something didn't completely jive with me. On a different day this probably could have been a 4.11. Even though it was a very dense sandwich it didn't sit heavy in the gut after eating it, which is nice. I'm not sure how that happened but I was surprised. Maybe the greens helped accomplish that. I know I'll be going back for the Southern Charm at some point.

I leave you with this.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Q1 Report

52 Sandwiches 2015 Q1 Report

Like most media conglomerates the board of directors here at Breakfast On A Bun, Inc. require a review at the end of each fiscal quarter.

With our fiscal quarter coming to a close the Q1 numbers are now in the books and ready for review.

Total sandwiches reviewed: 17
Restaurant sandwiches reviewed*: 12
Average rating: 3.2072 things out of 5 things
Average price per sandwich: $5.93
Total expenditures: $71.19**
Total revenues: $0.00

*Excludes Sandwich #1 which was reviewed prior to SRRS (Sandwich Review & Rating Structure) being put into place. 
**Excludes taxes & tips and includes $2 for sandwich #6 which was technically a non-tax deductible donation. (Thank you Kyle for helping to support important research. Your generous donation was used to provide a second breakfast to one grown man who had already eaten some cereal and possibly a banana).

CEO Report
Q1 was by all measures a success due primarily to the modest goals set forth which amounted to nothing more than consuming breakfast sandwiches. 

It is noted that if the current pace is maintained there will be 68 sandwiches reviewed by year's end, surpassing the goal of 52 by approximately 30%. Potential for lack of interest in the future has been considered. 

There are still 35 locations that remain on the review list and with many restaurants offering more than one sandwich there are no concerns for a shortage of sandwiches to review.

CFO Report
Based on the final financial numbers of Q1 the CFO submits that this endeavor is unsustainable, if not foolish, while conceding that the research is vital to the community at large. Based solely on the importance of the mission it is the CFO recommendation that research continue while considering possible revenue streams as put forth in the Executive Director's report.

Executive Director Report
The Executive Director's focus for Q2-Q4 is to increase revenue streams from their current totals of $0.00.

Projects in the R&D stage which may provide income in Q2-Q4 of 2015:
- Development and licensing of the bacon cannon, both the military version as well as a consumer model with usage aimed at large sporting events and music festivals.
- Further development of mobile phone "app" currently under the working title "MyEggSammy" which allows one to order a breakfast sandwich from anywhere and have it brought to them possibly via drone, Segway, yak or an unemployed millennial on a Big Wheel. Recommendations forwarded to the R&D team. 
- Launch of a line of children's books aimed at teaching youngsters the importance of sandwiches. Debut title "Don't Mess With Grandpa's Sandwich" currently being illustrated in Asia. 
- Recording of children's song and production of accompanying video "It Looks Like The Doggy Ate An Entire Jar of Mayo". Potential sponsors under investigation.
- Debut of breakfast sandwich related clothing line and accessories. Q2 trip planned for inspiration and research. Current itinerary includes New York, Milan, Paris, London and Des Moines.

Q2 plans are to review a minimum of 10 breakfast sandwiches as well as explore items set forth in Executive Director's Report.