Saturday, January 21, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #82 - You Gotta Think Outside The Bun To Really Get Inside The Bun

Sandwich: Steak, Blue Cheese, Arugula, Chicken Egg, Sriracha Mayo on a Kaiser Bun
Location: The Lab
Date: January 19, 2017

I was entering the grocery store with my usual list of junk and just as I approached the produce I heard the calling of the breakfast sandwich. It was very faint but grew louder and gained clarity quickly. It soon coalesced around the thought that nobody offers a steak-based breakfast sandwich. (I'm sure somebody does, but I haven't seen in on a menu.) Why is that? This is a question that can be explored in the lab.

With that in mind I started grabbing items that I thought would make for a good sandwich.

At the time I didn't notice that little piece of blue cheese in the upper left but it looks so cute up there. 

I would eat that. Twice. And so it was done.  
The Sandwich - Top round steak, arugula, blue cheese, chicken egg, Sriracha mayo on a whole wheat kaiser bun. I knew the blue cheese wouldn't get melty and gooey like some cheeses so I added the Sriracha mayo for viscosity. I never buy thin steaks for pan frying and I was worried it would be a bit tough for a sandwich, but my fear was unwarranted. When I went to cook the steak I realized I was out of butter, I had dropped the last stick on the floor a couple of days prior, so I fried this in olive oil. Always remember - this is not a cooking blog. The egg had runny yolk and the blue cheese behaved as expected - it didn't melt but softened a bit. The kaiser bun was lightly toasted and barely kept everything in check, but in a good way. It squished and wrapped itself around the goods but didn't fall apart. I think this sandwich would have been OK without the Sriracha mayo but ultimately it was a proper addition. This was a perfectly sloppy sandwich which might be obvious from the second photo above.

The Result - 4.43 Positive Results out of 5 Positive Results. This would be a fine sandwich on any restaurant menu but I'm not sure the demand is there. I don't know if people would order it which is damn shame because I wolfed this thing down and went right back into the lab and made another one the exact same way. They say an experiment cannot be considered a success unless it can be duplicated, or something like that. Also, all the stuff was still sitting on the counter. I didn't take photos of the second sandwich, that would have been ridiculous. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Whole Damn 2016 Year End List

Not surprisingly, I ate fewer breakfast sandwiches in 2016 than in 2015 (31 compared to 49). It's not easy keeping up that level of intake, especially when trying to get to new locations after having nearly exhausted those in my immediate vicinity. You think being a sandwich blogger is all glitz and glitter and beautiful people serving you bacon on a gilded cushion? It is not. To be fair it isn't very hard either. How do you rate the level of sacrifice involved with driving to Middleton on a Saturday morning? That's how hard this is. It isn't trench warfare.

The biggest news of 2016 was that breakfast sandwich perfection was found. A Chorizo-Egg Torta proved to me that a perfect rating could be had. I wasn't sure if it could happen or what it would look like, I only hoped that I would recognize it when it revealed itself. I did, and it was beautiful. I shed a single tear and the salinity of that sob droplet blended perfectly with the chorizo and egg and formed a rainbow in my mouth.

Several months later I had the opposite experience at Denny's. The Moons Over My Hammy sandwich tasted like it had enough salt to melt the polar ice cap and at $8.59 (including hash browns) is one of the biggest ripoffs in the sandwich-sphere. I still haven't completely given up on the idea of filing a class action lawsuit on behalf of those who have had to endure this abomination.

Looking at the numbers it would appear that 2016 was more about quality than quantity. The average rating for a sandwich was 4.02 compared to 3.59 in 2015. The average cost was a bit higher as well, $6.95 vs. $6.65 although the inclusion of sides throws that number off. I spent a total of $166.84 on sandwiches not including tax, coffee, etc. That's down $125.89 from 2015.

A couple of other trends jump off the page. Most of the fast food or chain restaurants are clumped together at the 3.5 rating, which seems high in retrospect, but that's where they rated. Also, what's with all the "Public Houses"? There are three of them here but not a single "Diner". Diners aren't really known for breakfast sandwiches although perhaps I need to explore that more.

In general I think my ratings were a bit more generous in 2016. I've touched on this subject before and it's not worth getting into again, but I think it's accurate.

So, here is the whole list of 2016, excluding homemade sandwiches which I no longer rate but still include in the total of sandwiches consumed. As always, the ratings are just a number. To get a better understanding of the sandwich you need to read the review but to get to the true heart and soul of the sandwich you need to eat it.

5.00 - Xoco
4.99 - Sardine
4.91 - Bloom Bake Shop
4.75 - Johnson Public House
4.70 - Kingston Cafe
4.69 - Off Broadway
4.40 - Players Sports Bar
4.35 - Ted's Market
4.29 - Crostini
4.19 - Holstein Kitchen
4.00 - Lazy Jane's
3.99 - Plaka
3.95 - Waypoint Public House
3.90 - Wilson's
3.89 - C's Restaurant
3.80 - Barriques (Atwood)
3.80 - Yola's
3.70 - Roast Public House
3.69 - Collectivo Coffee
3.50 - Chick-fil-A
3.50 - McDonald's
3.50 - Panera
3.40 - Taco Bell
2.99 - Hotel Continental Breakfast
1.56 - Denny's

What of 2017, then? I'm almost completely out of new places to visit in the Madison area. I'll still try to find those and will likely double back on a few that I have already been to. I'd like to have more guest reviewers. Maybe some chef can recreate and explain to me the perfect puffy egg cloud I had shortly before Christmas. Maybe I'll just go to Bradbury's every weekend interspersed with occasional trips to Sardine. Maybe some of you sandwich enthusiasts have fantastic ideas that I haven't considered and you'll pass them along.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #81 - The Continental Cob Job

Sandwich: Continental Cob Job
Location: Hotel
Date: December 24, 2016
Cost: Included with cost of the room

My hotel had complimentary continental breakfast. Inside a silver clamshell there were little sausage patties and fried eggs that looked like plastic toys a kid would have in their play kitchen. They also had slices of cheddar and an assortment of bread. Well, by God, I can cobble together a sandwich out of this!
Ok, that looks kinda lame.

The question is this - did it taste better than the red snowflake doily in the background?
The Sandwich - There isn't much more to say about the sandwich that I didn't describe above. The toaster they had kind of sucked. I toasted the English Muffin and it took too long but still didn't appear toasted. I grabbed an egg but 1/2 of another egg stuck to it so I had some bonus egg. The cheese was strategically placed between the sausage patty and chicken egg in hopes of achieving some melt, which it did. Just a bit.

The Result - 2.99 Sandwich Life Hacks out of 5 Sandwich Life Hacks. It wasn't that bad but it wasn't very good either. The next day I made a waffle instead. It's kind of sad that this was the last breakfast sandwich of 2016 but these things happen. The previous day I had the glorious puffy egg cloud sandwich and then I had this thing. Life is a roller coaster.