Saturday, December 31, 2016

Breakfast Sandwich #80 - Kingston Cafe aka Egg Enlightenment

Sandwich: Beto's
Location: Kingston Cafe
Date: December 23, 2016
Cost: $8.95

I was traveling for the holidays and this place popped up as near my hotel. I knew some research was in order plus I wanted a nice, strong cup of coffee. The hotel continental breakfast coffee wasn't cutting it.

Kingston Cafe was the most enticing option that came up in a search for "breakfast sandwiches San Mateo" but let it be known that the people of San Mateo appear to have some solid options when it comes to sandwiches, breakfast or not. The Spot on 25th, Ike's Place and Mr Pickle's all look like places that can bring the flavor. Sadly, I did not have time to visit any of them although I did squeeze in a "double double, animal style" at In-N-Out Burger.


It's rare that a breakfast sandwich comes on "normal" bread.

Look at that egg! I won't shut up about it. I won't!
The Sandwich - Beto's. Shortly after ordering they informed me that they were out of fresh basil but they could substitute pesto in it's place. That actually sounded better and is probably the way they should make this sandwich every time. It adds flavor and moisture and was instrumental in kicking this sandwich up into the "something special" ranks. Let's get a couple of things out of the way here so we can address some real issues. The bacon was fine and the tomato better than expected in December. The sandwich comes with pepper jack cheese and spicy mayo but still didn't have much heat to it. That isn't really a knock but it was surprising that it didn't have some zip to it. There wasn't a lot of cheese on this but you can't expect Wisconsin level cheesery in California, even though they try to claim their superiority as a dairy state. It's cute if not entirely foolish. It doesn't matter because all I really want to talk about is that egg! I don't know how or why, but I've never been served eggs on a sandwich like that. They were glorious. It was like a puffy egg cloud - fluffy and moist and beautiful. Normally I'm always yapping about a runny yolk but I have to admit that I was ignorant to the fact that eggs could be this way. They should be this way. The sourdough toast was just enough to keep everything together.

The Result - 4.70 Eye Opening Egg Enlightenments out of 5 Eye Opening Egg Enlightenments. This was a fantastic sandwich. The basil and the egg were really the best parts but the whole thing came together wonderfully. The Sumatran pour over coffee was also amazing. 

Breakfast Sandwich #79 - A Two Cheezer Jobber

I was out of bacon but I had a perfectly ripe avocado and some Newly Wed English Muffins so I doubled down on the cheese and got to work.

Breakfast Sandwich #79 - butterkase, brick, chicken egg, avocado, Cholula hot sauce, English Muffin. 


That's a lot of tasty and gooey cheese.
The Result - It's all about the muffin. Previous homemade sandwiches were on Bays English Muffins but this sandwich was on Newly Wed brand. The Newly Weds claim to be 25% bigger than some English Muffins. They do look bigger but I didn't have any Bays left for measurement comparison. The biggest difference is that the Newly Weds are a little spongier, with less craters and crevices for gooey bits to get caught in. Compare photos of this sandwich to #77 and #78 and you'll be able to see the difference. The Bays appear less uniform on the flat surfaces, I'm not sure what that says about their baking process or whatever, but they have a different look to them. I also think the Bays crisp up more when toasting because they are less dense. This is some actual scientific shit right here! If we can get a Muffinologist in here to explain this that would be fantastic. The density of your muffin is a personal preference, both brands are tasty and sufficient for a breakfast sandwich.

Anyway, with loads of creamy cheese, a runny egg, perfectly ripe avocado, delicious hot sauce, a bit of fresh ground pepper - of course this was an amazing sandwich. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Breakfast Sandwiches #77 and #78 - I Still Have That Toaster Oven

This is going to amount to nothing more than notes for myself about the last two sandwiches I made which is to say nobody is going to want to read it. However, as noted previously, these sandwiches must be documented. One day when I sit down to write my dissertation so I can get my PhD in the Sandwich Arts I will need these notes but in the meantime I don't expect you to care or to even read this. Hopefully some institution of higher learning will grant me an Honorary Sandwich Doctorate so I don't have to go through all that.

Anyway, you could be watching cat videos and I won't be offended if you leave to do just that. Just in case you want to hang around for a minute here is a guy feeding bacon to his cat like he's in Lady and the Tramp.

Breakfast Sandwich #77 - bacon, pepper jack, avocado, egg, mayo, Cholula hot sauce, English Muffin.
Good Golly Miss Molly!

Very nice. 
#77 Result - A bit of experimentation gone wrong but disaster averted. I thought it might be smart to preheat the toaster oven. It was not. I ended up burning the top half of the muffin which I'm chalking up to not having control of the temperature. While I was pulling the slightly burnt muffin from the toaster and slathering a bit of mayo on it to counteract the dryness I also overcooked the egg a bit. At that point of my mild panic attack somebody should have been playing Yakety Sax as the soundtrack. The avocado was perfectly ripe so I had that going for me although I had to contend with the pieces trying to slide out the sides every time I took a bite. That's how it goes with avocado. I was worried that the pepper jack and Cholula might gang up to make it too spicy but that was not an issue. The pepper jack cheese was somewhat mild and I've never found Cholula to be particularly hot, just flavorful, and it pairs so well with avocado. Overall it was a mighty fine sandwich and lessons were learned, but it could have been better.
Breakfast Sandwich #78 - bacon, brick cheese, avocado, egg, Cholula, English Muffin.
Pretty as a picture.

A little sloppy, a lot tasty. 
#78 Result - Shit Damn! We've really got something going here. This one turned out so damn fine it was like Salma Hayek on a muffin. You can see the chicken egg turned out exactly how I wanted it. The avocado was (still) perfectly ripe (it was the other half of the same avocado used in #77). Minor quibbles - the cheese could have been a bit meltier and the muffin could have been toasted a bit more. The bacon was sizzling and smoking so I pulled them from the oven before the cheese and muffin reached optimal levels. So it goes. There were no regrets. The brick cheese is mild but when adding salty bacon and hot sauce it works perfectly. This was a Sunday morning sandwich done right and a great reward for 90 minutes of snow shoveling.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Dear Diary, I Bought A Toaster Oven aka Breakfast Sandwiches #74, #75, #76

Dear Diary,

With 2016 coming to a close I have found myself increasingly uncertain about the future of the country and the psyche of Americans in general. Like many Americans I sought to quell my anxiety by participating in the fetishized consumerism of Black Friday. If there is one thing that can calm a tizzied mind it's a small kitchen appliance and lots and lots of cheese and bacon. That's more than one thing but you get my point. Diary, this may be nothing more than the ramblings of a man gone mad for sandwiches but if you need me I'll be in the lab making breakfast sandwiches. Beyond the settling of a harried consciousness I think that the sandwich might be the key to uniting a divided country. There is research to do. Nothing less than the future of our country is at stake.
What happened is that I needed a new toaster and while shopping I realized that a toaster oven costs only slightly more than a regular toaster yet offers so much more. PROS: increased sandwichibility. CONS: reduced counter space. Sandwiches win, naturally.

There are a ridiculous amount of toaster ovens available. Black & Decker, Kitchenaid, Cuisinart, Breville, and Hamilton Beach are all in the toaster oven game. Shit. I'd never heard of Breville but their toaster ovens look really nice and cost more than twice that of a Cuisinart. When did Black & Decker start making kitchen appliances? Does Cuisinart make chainsaws? After much deliberation I ended up with the Cuisinart TOB-60N1 which looks adequate for my needs.

For a variety of reasons, not that one needs a reason, I already had a plethora of cheese on hand. Whole milk Swiss, butterkase, brick, extra sharp cheddar, pepper jack, Monterey jack, some kind of Gouda. That's just what pops into my head right now and that seem like good options for a breakfast sandwich.

I also already had bacon. One package of English Muffins later I was ready to get to work.

Breakfast Sandwich #74 - bacon, butterkase, red onion, egg.
#74 - My first sandwich in the Cuisinart.

#74 - Proper chicken egg
#74 Result - A strong first take. Butterkase is a good cheese for a breakfast sandwich, it melts nicely and is creamy. I should have used more bacon, this was only two pieces. Scant usage of red onion was the key here. Pound for pound nothing adds a little zip to a sandwich like red onion but you have to use it sparingly. This sandwich emboldened me and gave me hope.
Breakfast Sandwich #75 - bacon, whole milk Swiss, mild giardiniera, egg.
#75 - That's the last of my whole milk aged Swiss cheese. I'm feeling melancholy. 

#75 - How pretty is that? Yes, that is a kitty cat coffee creamer pourer in the background. 

#75 - Nice, but I should have drained the giardiniera a little more. The kitty is waving for your attention. That squash don't give a shit about you though.  
#75 Result - Strong, but needs work. It was tough to say goodbye to the last of my whole milk aged Swiss cheese. It was purchased in the Cheese Tent at Cheese Days and I don't know when I'll be able to get more, but damn, it was some good-ass cheese.  I used three strips of bacon this time and mild giardiniera. Cooked the egg just a little too long but that turned out to be for the better. I buttered the muffin and didn't drain the giardiniera enough so this got a little sloppy. A runny yolk would have made this a full on mess. This was a very tasty sandwich but could have been refined. 
#76 - bacon, extra sharp cheddar, Sriracha mayo, egg. 
#76 - Take a little turn on the catwalk sandwich, you're looking fine!

#76 - Oh fuck. That's a hot mess. Also, I need some new plates that are less visually distracting. 
#76 Result - the yin and yang of sandwich making? In terms of flavor this sandwich was a real dynamo. I thought that the Sriracha mayo and extra sharp cheddar would blend nicely, and they did. Those flavors pair wonderfully with the salty bacon. Yeah! I had some missteps in production though. I tried putting the tray in the bottom of the toaster oven to help with dripping cheese clean up and that affected the toasting of the muffins. I overcooked the egg so there was no runny yolk. Then I tried to cut the sandwich with a butter knife, but the muffin was too squishy from lack of toasting and you can see how that turned out. Well, shit. My only excuse is that I was trying to get ready for work and was also making my lunchtime sandwich at the same time. Did I mention how tasty this was? It was amazing.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Breakfast Sandwich #73 - Roast Public House aka Token Offerings and Random Ramblings

Sandwich: Breakfast All Day
Location: Roast Public House
Date: December 3, 2016
Cost: $7.00, comes with kettle chips.

Roast is a place that wasn't on my radar. I don't get down to State Street as often as perhaps I should and when I do it's with a specific destination in mind so I zero in on that. I used to work downtown and ate out for lunch every day, so I knew when new restaurants were opening and would try them out. I ate all the things, one might say. Some of my favorites are still there and I wish I could visit them more often - Mediterranean Cafe, Himal Chuli, The Plaza, Paul's Pelmeni*. Damn fine spots for lunch. After lunch there was often a quick stop at B-Side Records**. Browsing for new music is crucial to the digestive process.

*Paul's was on State Street and then went away for some reason and then reopened in a coffee shop in Fitchburg and then moved to their current location just off State Street. When they reopened they didn't bring back the record player and stack of worn but solid albums they would let you select from. I know I played Neil Young's, "After The Gold Rush" and a Willie Nelson selection, probably some sort of Greatest Hits. They should bring back the record player.

**Check back for B-Side's annual Best Of The Year selections where current and former employees of the store list their favorite albums and concerts of the past year. It's always a "must read" and is delayed slightly this year. Check their web site for updates or stop in the store for a printed version. You probably need some new music in your life anyway.

Anyway, all of this is a long-winded way to say I only knew about Roast due to research put in to compile the list of places I want to review. Somehow I came across their info and added it to the list. Saturday I was headed to the Chazen to see the Manabu Ikeda piece*** and factored in a stop at Roast. Finally.

***This exhibit is only up through December 11 and is worth your time to plan a trip to see it. Do it this week! Also, check out the amazing Facades exhibit as long as you are there.

Most people probably didn't read all that shit I wrote above and who can blame them? Here are pictures, people like to read pictures.
I really like that running pig. It's like "here is what your sandwich looked like shortly before we killed it."

There it is, with a Mixed Greens photobomb. Fuck you, Mixed Greens, this isn't a salad blog. 

I should have focused on that half in back.
The Sandwich - Breakfast All Day. You can get avocado for the vegetarian version, otherwise your choice is bacon, ham or sausage. Roast seems to be all about their meats, so I asked if the sausage is made in house. It is not. I went with the bacon but would have gone with sausage if it they made it on site. You can see some chicken egg yolky-ooziness in the photo, that was nice. American cheese is a solid choice for a breakfast sandwich due to the melt factor and saltiness. The bacon was good, could have been a touch crispier but was OK, if a little thin. I'm more of a thick cut bacon kind of a guy. The bun is a Madison Sourdough Soft Bun, it says it right on the menu. This isn't a particularly hearty or messy sandwich and the bun was able to contain everything, but it still felt a bit too squishy. I like my breads like I like my women - toasted and with a little more heft. Ahem. Jeez, I'm going to get some shit for that line. Don't complain to me, complain to my editor and sponsors, neither of which exist. The mixed greens on the side were a good choice and the cilantro-lime vinaigrette that the waiter recommended was perfect. The sandwich normally comes with kettle chips but I swapped in the greens for $1.50.

The Result - 3.7 State Street Lunchtime Flashbacks out of 5 State Street Lunchtime Flashbacks. This is a perfectly OK sandwich but is nothing special. I feel like it's on the menu as a token breakfast offering. Honestly, if it wasn't for the sake of research I would have ordered something else. The menu has some fine looking sandwiches, such as, Pastor Pork Sandwich - Guajillo chile roasted pork, avocado, queso Oaxaca, fresh cilantro on a Stella spicy cheese bun. I'm a fool for tacos al pastor so I really need to try this sandwich. Next time. My research here is done.