Go to almost any eatery, scan the menu, and where sandwiches should be there’s a listing for something called wraps, which consist of a bewildering combination of leaves, twigs and colored goop stuffed inside a tortilla that’s rolled up into a rubbery tube.I don’t want no stinkin’ wrap. I want a sandwich.
When I was a kid my mother would send me to summer day-camp with a brown paper bag that contained an orange or apple, an Oreo or two, and a cheddar cheese and mustard sandwich. Try trading that on the playground.
Unlike these sissified wraps with their mystery ingredients — that Dagwood Bumstead wouldn’t even feed to his dog, Daisy — the beauty of a sandwich is that you can put anything you want on one and impress your friends and family members. Try slathering mayonnaise and putting a fresh thick-sliced tomato on a wrap. That combination requires white bread, lots of mayo, huge slices of home grown tomatoes, and salt and pepper. This is also known as a porch or sink sandwich because when you bite into one, the juice trickles down your chin forcing you to eat it leaning over the kitchen sink or the porch railing.
Once you’ve layered a slice of bread with mayo and a thick slice of tomato, a world of opportunities opens up in front of you. You can add sliced raw onions, bacon, lettuce, or slide the tomato off and add peanut butter and sliced bananas, cucumbers, a fried egg, cheese slices, pickles, sardines, jalapenos, olives, leftover chicken or turkey, even potato chips. The combinations are limitless. What ever’s in the fridge works, unlike wraps, which are made from lawn debris.
One of the most interesting and tastiest sandwiches I’ve ever eaten was given to me by an elderly German lady that I shared a train compartment with while traveling through Germany many years ago. She made it with ingredients brought with her in what seemed to be a bottomless leather carry-on bag that also contained large bottles of German beer that she and her husband also generously shared. This memorable open-faced sandwich consisted of large thick slices of crusty black bread slathered with goose grease then topped with sliced white radishes and sprinkled with coarse salt.”Es schmeckt gut,” she said as she thrust it in front of me, and she was right, it tasted great.
Another favorite sandwich of mine is a French baguette that contains overlapping slices of ham and French brie. Slice a baguette horizontally, spread spicy mustard or basil pesto on one half, layer cheese and ham on the other, then slap it shut. Or eat it with just the brie and ham. Pick up one of Publix’s crusty baguette’s, a wedge of brie that you let sit to room temperature, add a few slices of deli ham and you’re in business. Street food vendors in Paris offer a unique sandwich consisting of a demi-baguette, stuffed with a couple of spicy Merguez sausages, topped with French fries and spicy mustard, a treat my 12-year old nephews, Jason and Pete, loved when they visited us there. Yep, the fries are in the sandwich.
The ham and cheese combination reminds me of when my Uncle Norm visited me in Europe in the late 1980s and he and I drove to The Netherlands from my home in Belgium. We stopped at a country inn for lunch and I made a phone call and went to the restroom leaving Uncle Norm alone at the table. When I came back sitting in front of him were two large sandwiches, one with ham, the other with cheese. “I asked for a ham and cheese sandwich,” said my puzzled uncle, “and this is what they brought me.”
I inherited my love of sandwiches from my mother who was partial to whole wheat bread ones containing sour cream, onions, and Limburger cheese or liverwurst. A sour cream, onion and cucumber concoction was another of her favorites. To this day I’ve never seen anyone else put sour cream on a sandwich. Her combinations were obviously acquired tastes and didn’t, and still don’t, appeal to me, as I was still in a white bread, peanut butter and grape jelly stage in those days along with the old standby mustard and cheddar cheese combos.
The late Ludlow Porch, a very, very funny man who broadcast one of the most bizarre and hilarious radio shows I’ve ever heard, from a small Atlanta station for many years, used to regale listeners about his love for what he said “folks with rural leanings” called CLOT sandwiches, a combination of “chittlins, lettuce, onion and tomato”, or a plain old CLT, by skipping the onions.
A local island restaurant that has stayed true to the sandwich is Fernandina Beach’s South 8th Street’s T-Rays, which features a fried bologna one for just $5.95. You’ll find no wraps on T-Ray’s menu but you will find proper sandwiches containing tuna fish, BLT, grilled cheese and other appropriate sandwich ingredients. Oh, on meatloaf Tuesdays, you can do what the guy at the counter next to me did recently, and ask T-Ray for the meatloaf in a sandwich instead of on the plated meat-and-three. Not a problem.
Tony’s New York Brick Oven Pizza and Restaurant, on Sadler, nest to Publix, offers a selection of a dozen different sub sandwiches for no more than eight bucks and that includes a heaping order of fries. And if you don’t care for the bread Tony provides, then go next door to Publix, buy a roll and pizza maker Mark Keller will fill it with whatever you want, but the price remains the same. My favorites are Tony’s Italian and the homemade meatball parmesan ones.
Another place to get a great traditional sandwich on this island is Hola! the tiny downtown North 2nd Street Cuban eatery located behind the Palace Saloon and across the street from Dog Star Tavern, where Marisol Triana just announced that patrons will now be able to enjoy the best Cuban sandwich on the island or anywhere else, while sipping an ice cold beer including Yuengling, Miller Lite and, appropriately, some Cigar City brews.
The muffuletta, a sandwich that is a meal for two or more, is one of my all-time favorites, which nobody on the island makes with any consistency. Brian
Grimley at Lulu’s on South 7th Street does a good but small version when he’s a mind to throw one together; Nick Hartley at Main Beach’s Sandy Bottoms, put them on the menu a couple of times but gave up on them too soon; and the Pecan Roll Bakery on South 8th Street took them off of its menu, saying they just weren’t selling enough of them despite the fact they were very good. The key to a proper muffuletta is the bread and getting the olive tapenade right. For the real thing I guess I’ll have to go back to New Orleans and stand in line at Central Grocery.
The sandwich knows no borders and breaks language barriers. Wraps are for sissies at bridge parties and are boring and tasteless. Sandwich varieties are unlimited, exciting and help you make friends and once you’ve hit on the right combination you’ll know it.
Does anyone out there have a favorite sandwich that doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to assemble and contains ingredients I don’t need my passport to obtain?
You Are My Sunshine – Not! After reading my December 18 Blog “Before Solar Panel Activity Heats Up Local Officials Need To Study Other Cities” friend Benita Dodd, vice president of the Atlanta-based Georgia Public Policy Foundation, suggested I take a look at a Tallahassee think tank’s policy paper on Florida and the solar industry and a Sunshine State News article summarizing it.
I did, and if the story of Dublin, Georgia’s solar woes wasn’t scary enough, this study should make even the most ardent Amelia Island solar enthusiast pause to reconsider…well maybe except for Fernandina Mayor Johnny Miller, who wears blinders on such issues.
According to the James Madison Institute’s (JMI) study (“Solar Carve-Outs in the Sunshine State” ) the solar industry would have Floridians believe a constitutional amendment it proposes through a front group called Floridians for Solar Choice (FSC) is a free market initiative. And that’s how the media are portraying it, which is exactly the industry’s public relations objective. But that isn’t the case, proclaims the James Madison study.
The paper’s bottom line reveals if the ballot initiative wins, Florida ratepayers will be screwed. We will wind up bearing the brunt of an estimated $1.1 billion cost shift, and that is just a modest estimate. In a nutshell Florida taxpayers will end up paying their neighbors solar bills and subsidizing the solar industry.
“This is one industry carving out a market share for itself in the Florida Constitution,” said Bob McClure, CEO for JMI. “It’s crony capitalism at its worst.”
Sal Nuzzo, JMI vice president of policy, explained that public utilities are required to maintain 100 percent of grid capacity “regardless of whether the locations are generating their own power through wind or solar or any other renewable source.”
The report explains that in order to make sure solar users don’t go without electricity in periods of prolonged lack of sun, existing energy providers are required by regulation to ensure 100 percent capacity in their area, even when a business or residence is partially or completely off the grid.
“The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that over the life span of new solar power facilities going online in 2016, the resultant solar power will remain five times more expensive than the natural gas power that generates the majority of Florida electricity,” says JMI. So, homeowners and businesses that get a 30 percent subsidy for installing solar equipment now, will get a further subsidized ride on Florida ratepayers’ backs. In other words those of us not using solar will pay for those that do use it. No thanks, I don’t care to pay my neighbors utility bills.
In a press statement JMI says: “Unable to produce a market-competitive product despite subsidies, solar energy comprises less than one percent of the total electricity generation in the U.S. According to a 2014 Brookings Institution study, solar power is the most expensive and most heavily subsidized form of electric power generation.”
The deadline for the initiative to submit the necessary signatures to be placed on the ballot for voter consideration is Feb. 1.
The report is summarized in a Sunshine State News article “Proposed Solar Amendment ‘Crony Capitalism at Its Worst,’ Says JMI Report” by Nancy Smith December 16, 2015.
Cup Of Woe: News-Leader columnist, Joe Palmer (Cup of Joe), the cranky, self-proclaimed “southern humorist”, emailed me twice saying that he is receiving this blog in his email and he doesn’t want it and will I make it stop. His last email said: “Dave, I keep getting your blog notice in my email basket. I don’t want to be bothered with it. Three times now I’ve gone to the blog and deleted notification requests. I don’t know how this keeps happening but please stop it.” I didn’t put this guy on the email list in the first place and I’ve gone in and deleted his name twice. I have no idea why he keeps getting it other than somebody else must be signing him up. So fair is fair, right? Suppose I don’t want your column in the News-Leader that I receive at home Joe. Would you ask the newspaper’s publisher to remove it from my issue before the paper arrives at my house?
Random Thoughts: Now that Palace Saloon barkeep Johnny Miller has been elected mayor, will Fernandina Beach City Commission meetings continue to be no cover, no minimum? *** I just realized how odd it is that Chinese people have a language created entirely out of tattoos. *** I missed winning the Powerball lottery this week by only six numbers.
It Was The Best Of Times. It Was The Worst Of Times! The Salty Pelican’s Al Waldis is a good sport. During last Sunday’s NFL playoff game between the Washington Redskins and the Green Bay Packers, Al donned my Redskins jacket until the dismal end of the game won soundly by the Packers, 35-18, and viewed by a crowd evenly divided by loyalty to the two teams. Seated at our table of “honor” or “dishonor” depending on where your loyalties were, was an eclectic crowd consisting of Al sporting the burgundy and gold coat; downtown Hampton Hotel General Manager Bob Ramshaw, who bemoaned the dismal year-long performance of his beloved Dallas Cowboys the entire game; Nassau County Economic Development Director Laura DiBella, who diplomatically kept her loyalties to herself; Mark Waters, another nonpartisan fan; Scoop Reese, who made occasional taunting visits to the table; and even my wife, Linda, who made a brief appearance decked out in Redskins colors including a cap with a flashing Redskins’ logo. Al’s Pelican business partner, T.J. Pelletier, kept his distance from this crowd, ignoring us while sitting at a nearby table. Even the “Hail to the Redskins” song sheets that I passed out — many of which were disgracefully defaced by Packer fans — couldn’t help the Washington team. However, following two straight years of losing this bet I’m not sure if Al is willing to gamble again that his adored Jaguars team will win more games than the Redskins next season, but I’m willing to give it another shot even if losing this long shot wager means I’d have to sit for a photo with my arm around the downtown statue of scallywag David Yulee while wearing a Jaguar jersey, then publish it in this blog.
Florida For Dreamers: Detroit freelance writer Susan Pollack, recently visited Amelia Island with her husband, Steve, and penned one of the most complimentary pieces (“We’ve found the Florida of our dream”) for the January 12 issue of the Dallas Morning News about the island I’ve read anywhere. I’m not sure even the Amelia Island Tourist Development Council’s Gil Langley, who arranged the visit, could have done it better. Ms. Pollack didn’t miss a thing ranging from glowing descriptions of the harbor and Victorian architecture to the restaurants, beaches, history, pace of life and more….even petanque. Reading it was like reading a positive review of that new car you just bought, it made you feel good about your decision to live here. A lone dissenting comment on the online site came from a local resident who says Ms. Pollock’s whole premise is hogwash, that there is nothing to do here and even for a good meal he has to go to River City in Jacksonville. Good, while he’s busy eating dinner at River City gourmet establishments like Cracker Barrel or Arby’s and dodging panhandlers, it’ll keep him and his negativity off the island.
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: If the filet of salmon with a light Hollandaise sauce, on a bed of rice with a side of asparagus that I had the other evening at Alley Cat is any indication, then folks experiencing Amelia Island Restaurant Week in Fernandina are in for a very special treat January 22-31. Not only does the Alley Cat’s kitchen produce some really good, reasonably priced food, but the Centre Street facing eatery and bar, is a showcase for some of the island’s best local entertainers ranging from piano man John Springer and guitarist Dan Voll to fiddle gal Amy Basse and bluesman Gitlo. The Amelia Oceanfront B&B at 584 South Fletcher was sold by Innkeeper Han Ramaker and wife T.J. as they prepare to travel the country, the Caribbean, etc. landing back on the island on occasion. The new owners from Valdosta plan to convert it back into a private residence which is was when it was first built in 1938.