Club Sandwich from Community, Bethesda, MD

A recent sandwich scavenger hunt took me all over town, with stops at On Rye, Smoked and Stacked and Doi Moi (to grab a banh mi from their pop-up – located elsewhere), before rendezvous-ing with Scott Suchman at the offices of the Washingtonian. Scott had swung by Community, as well as Straw, Stick and Brick Delicatessen.

Super fun assignment. Tailored to ME!

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There’s Never Been a Better Time to Eat Sandwiches in Washington, is the story. I’m not completely sure that there has never been a better time, but it is the best in recent memory.  I do still miss Schwartz’s, as well as Reeve’s, and am unwilling to disrespect their legacies.


Nevertheless,  onward we go. Delis are on the upswing, thank you pastrami gods, and On Rye is riding it. They’ve got it going on, aesthetically, as per this image on their website (the one below), repeated in wallpaper at their brick-n-mortar.

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First thought: Nice, right? Followed closely by: I wonder who made those sandwiches? So dope.


Very cool location, behind the Verizon Center and north, near to Chinablock. Pretty Penny Street but still lots of hopping spots available.


You know you’ve really made it when…

the City Paper gives you enough ink to wrap a Reuben.

First time restaurant owner Ilyse Fishman Lerner grew up in Boca Raton, Florida—home of grandparents and Jewish delis. “I got my deli education down there,” she says. But it took a while for Fishman to return to her deli-loving roots. The 31-year-old spent much of her professional career as a corporate lawyer before making the leap to the hospitality industry. Read on here.


Swanky, yeah? #notmygranddadsdeli #andthatsok


Keeping those restaurant consultants, designers and architects in business. Not a trickle, mind you, a steady stream here in DC, and that’s a good thing.  On Rye will get worn in, one hopes.  Corners rubbed soft, corned beef aroma rubbed in. Can our new places, so polished and planned, fill the shoes of those sandwich emporiums gone before? Time will tell. Persistence, patience and pastrami. Counting on the three p’s.


Smoked and Stacked has a brilliant breakfast sandwich called, confoundedly, The New Yorker. Geez I hope it has a counterpart up north named The Washingtonian. Pastrami, fried egg, comte and hot pepper jelly on milk bread got scarfed while I waited for the official sandwich. That New Yorker sure makes a mess.


Marjorie is in the house!



What was I saying about keeping those architects, planners and designers in business? Dang these newcomers are savvy.  Textures, timing, tones. High tone. Stain and distress me impressed.


Coached and Spaded, I say.


Evocative. Smoke and stacks, no question. Soot is not so appetizing to me, but still, the image is chic in a rust belt kinda way. I go for this stuff – hooked, lined and sinked.


Load em up, head em out. All the stuff on its way into the magazine offices.


Take em apart, put em back together better. Better from one view, that is. Not gonna tell you what I did to the tomato, or the bread, or the slaw…


See, not glamorous. Just some sandwiches, reclining on seamless. The talent.




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Photo from Tori Avey with recipe here.

My mother is upset. The kolaches at Public Option are not true kolaches, says she. “They must be Texas kolaches,” she claims with disdain.

There is no food that has not been subject to alterations, incarnations, elaborations in some major US city in 2017. Foodies have indelibly fused anything and everything that anyone recalls eating from days gone by. My mother is 89 and she knows kolaches.

According to the website of Verdigre, Nebraska, the “Kolach Capital of the World“,

Kolaches, a favorite Czech and Slovak dessert originating from Eastern Europe, are baked pastries of yeast dough with delicious fruit filling. Some fillings include prune, poppy seed, apricot, cherry, & cottage cheese.

Thanks to Steve Hildreth for the inside on Verdigre.

My mother is in this camp. With heels dug in next to her tent stakes. She has plenty of company and, to be frank, I’m with her. The kolaches I know from childhood in Wisconsin and from my own kitchen are open and filled with something sweet. That said, the kolaches at Public Option are totally delicious and I plan to go often for half-smoke kolaches and a beer.

‘Show him the spiced plums, mother. Americans don’t have those,’ said one of the older boys. ‘Mother uses them to make kolaches,’ he added. Leo, in a low voice, tossed off some scornful remark in Bohemian. I turned to him. ‘You think I don’t know what kolaches are, eh? You’re mistaken, young man. I’ve eaten your mother’s kolaches long before that Easter Day when you were born.’

– Willa Cather’s novel My Antonia (1918), about Bohemian immigrants in Nebraska in the 1880s

Hotcha! Hot Kolaches in Langdon

I thought I knew a thing or two about kolaches. My two things: they are czech and the filling is pressed into the top. Plus, one can absolutely find them in Wisconsin and Texas. Today we ate Polish kolaches in Washington, DC and they were round, browned buns of sweet dough, the top sprinkled frugally with sesame sides and the filling encased. I have always known kolaches to have sweet fillings – apricot, cheese and others – but not today. Beef and cheese, half smoke and saag paneer. Worlds collide.

FullSizeRender-2Today was a beautiful day for a visit to Public Option on Rhode Island Avenue, NE to eat hot kolaches and drink beer. Prelude to a nap,

“What’s for lunch?” he said. “Kolaches,” I said. “Dough and meat. You’ll like it.”


Half smoke kolaches, saag paneer kolaches. Well, I never! And brown ale. Sleepy Sunday afternoon. If this is brunch, I can handle it. Screen Shot 2017-04-02 at 5.10.52 PM

Welcome to The Public Option

The Public Option is a brew pub.  We make all our draft beer on site, and try to maintain a well balanced selection of 8 varieties at all times including 3 darker, more malty beers, 3 paler beers with a focus on the hops (often delicate), and 2 more experimental brews.

Read on here.

Public Option is cozy. If we lived nearby – dang, I wish we did – we’d be there a lot.  The owner is talkative, enthused, and talking up the bigger menu to come. And live music upstairs in the not-too-distant future.


According to the website, this spot pays a “living wage” and discourages tips, but with a smile like his…and our general discomfort with not tipping…what to do??? We tipped.


Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh

I stand by the spaghetti sub. Or lie down, more likely.

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Read it on the Pittsburgh  Post-Gazette site here.

By Miriam Rubin

Call it a sub, hero, grinder, wedge (said to be from Yonkers, N.Y.), hoagie (generally from Philadelphia), torpedo, Zeppelin or Zep (from Norristown), spuckie (East Boston, referring to the bread, spuccadella), bomber (from around Buffalo, N.Y.) or Garibaldi (southern Wisconsin), or by any name, you’ve got an Italian sandwich.

Built on a long, narrow loaf of bread, the sandwich is filled with a mix of cheeses and Italian meats, and often lettuce, tomato, some type of pickled pepper or relish, a drizzle of oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. According to “The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America” the sub and its regional variations evolved from “an Italian fieldworker lunch” of hard bread, sausage and cheese. Folding it all up into a long piece of bread made it portable and easier to eat.

Sometime subs, filled with cold cuts, are warmed up and sometimes subs are even served hot, loaded with meatballs and sauce, or chicken or eggplant Parmesan.

Lisa Cherkasky, a Washington, D.C.-based cookbook author, food stylist and great cook who blogs about sandwiches in “The Lunch Encounter,” said she learned of a curious concoction dubbed the Spa Sub, filled with spaghetti and meatballs, on a trip to West Virginia but didn’t sample it.

For creating a great sub, she said, bread is key. Soft crust or hard crust is regional and personal, but the bread has to be of good quality.

Sprinkle the bread liberally with good olive oil and vinegar after cutting it open. “Then the bread has that vinegar thing going for it, and that helps a lot, even if it’s not stellar bread,” Ms. Cherkasky said. She’s no fan of Italian dressing “unless it’s homemade. Maybe an Italian garlic mayo,” she offered.

“There’s a rhythm to building the sub. It shouldn’t be hard to construct or fussy,” she added. The trick is to hinge open the bread, leaving it closed at one long side. Lay the meat and cheese across the middle and place chopped lettuce in the center, along with tomatoes if you want, “but not lousy tomatoes.” Spice it up with red pepper flakes or a bitey red pepper relish. “Then fold it up. That way everything stays in the bread and you get something in every bite, too,” she said.

Ms. Cherkasky said a sub requires a lot of filling. “I like a mix of meat and cheese, salami, cappicola — some people add ham — and provolone or fresh mozzarella. That’s delicious,” she said.

Condiments make the sub sandwich sing. “There’s the mayo camp and the mustard camp,” she said. “I’m in both, even though mustard isn’t customary on a sub.”

Subs have regional variations and quirks that can be, well, unusual. Primanti Bros. is featuring two new Lenten subs, Heaven Sent and Hell Bent. Ms. Cherkasky mentioned a sub called the Broccoli Classic. Made at No. 7 Subs in the Ace Hotel in New York City and Brooklyn, it’s featured in chef Tyler Cord’s cookbook, “A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches.” He writes that he’s been devouring broccoli and mashed potato sandwiches since he was a kid. His Classic combines roasted broccoli, mayo, pine nuts, fried shallots, ricotta salata and a spicy lychee relish.

And then there’s that spaghetti sub. “You have leftover spaghetti, you have bread,” Ms. Cherkasky said. “Put some cheese on the bread, put in the spaghetti, wrap the whole thing in foil, push it together and heat it up in the oven so the bread’s toasty. It would be good. My kid would eat that in a second. Yum.”

Miriam Rubin: mmmrubin@gmail.com or on Twitter @mmmrubin.

Super Submarine Sandwich With Olive-Pepper Relish

PG tested

This sandwich improves as it chills out in the fridge. The olive-pepper relish soaks into the bread and all the flavors blend together. Switch up the meats if you like but make sure they are thinly sliced, and not shaved.

Olive-pepper relish

1 cup pitted, drained Kalamata olives

3/4 cup sliced, drained, hot pickled banana peppers

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar


1 loaf ciabatta bread

6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

6 ounces thinly sliced hot or mild sopressata

6 ounces thinly sliced capicola, ham or mortadella

4 ounces thinly sliced Genoa salami

8 ounces sliced mild provolone cheese

6 small tomatoes, thinly sliced

1/3 cup red onion slices

For the relish: Add all ingredients in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped but not pureed. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

For the sub: Slice the bread in half horizontally. Pull out the extra soft bread inside the top half of loaf; save for breadcrumbs.

On the bottom half of bread, spread half the olive relish. Layer with meats, provolone, tomatoes and red onions; season with salt and pepper and spoon the remaining olive relish on top. Place other piece of bread over the sandwich and press down lightly. Wrap the sandwich in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, slice the sandwich into 2-to-3-inch pieces crosswise. Any leftovers can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

— Miriam Rubin

Broccoli Classic

It’s featured in Tyler Cord’s “A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches.” He writes: “This one could be hot or cold — it just depends on your confidence level and attitude. If you want it to be hot, I suggest having everything ready so that when you finish cooking the broccoli, you’re ready to make a sandwich.

1/2 cup mayonnaise

4 sub rolls, split lengthwise

2 heads roasted broccoli (trim the broccoli, peel tender stems, toss with oil and salt and roast at 400 degrees until caramelized and tender)

1 cup lychee muchim (recipe follows), mostly drained of its juice

1 cup shredded ricotta salata cheese

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/4 cup fried shallots (recipe follows)

Spread mayo on the rolls and top with the roasted broccoli and lychee muchim. Press it all down a little with your hand to make a nice flat base for the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle cheese, pine nuts and shallots, and close the sandwich.

Makes 4 servings.

Lychee Muchim

This makes 1 cup of marinade, good for brining about 2 cups of anything. Muchim in Korean means mixed or seasoned but is generally employed to describe a Korean cucumber salad called “oi muchim.” Mr. Cord writes.

1 garlic clove, minced

1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced

1 medium shallot, finely chopped

Few drops sesame oil

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons red chili flakes (or less, to taste)

1 cup white vinegar

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

1 (20-ounce) can lychees in syrup, drained and halved

Stir together garlic, ginger, shallot, sesame oil, sugar, chili flakes, vinegar, scallions and salt until thoroughly mixed. Add the lychees and soak for at least 1 hour. Keeps, refrigerated, for up to a couple of weeks.

Fried Shallots

Vegetable oil for frying

4 large shallots, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Kosher salt

Heat 1 inch of oil in a heavy medium saucepan until a shallot ring sizzles when dropped in.

Toss shallots in cornstarch, separating the rings. Add to the oil in batches and fry until crisp and blonde. Drain on paper towels.

Heat same oil to about 325 degrees. Fry shallots a second time, until puffed, caramelized and just light brown. Drain again on new paper towels and season with salt.

— Adapted from “A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches” by Tyler Cord, (Clarkson Pottter; June 2016)

Therm Is the Word

Hey Therm! Hey Therm! I could use a little help over here.

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For starters, could you sandwichsplain this to me in laypersons terms? As in, how many sweaters do I need to wear to counter the calorie intake of a Reuben? And does it make a difference if I grill the Reuben over natural gas? While wearing this?

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Wearing this thermal sweatshirt backwards makes it look like the Union Jack. See it?

I’m jacked about thermals! Jacked about therms. Jacked to burn therms while eating a hotdog. Are hotdogs sandwiches? Heavy hitters say yes and no here and here. Thermally heated debate pro and con and pro and con. I say yes, heatedly. And I will back that up thermomonumentally. Hot dogs = meat between bread = sandwich. Therm, back me up here,  wouldya?!

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The therm (symbol thm) is a non-SI unit of heat energy equal to 100,000 British thermal units (BTU). It is approximately the energy equivalent of burning 100 cubic feet (2.83 cubic metres) – often referred to as 1 CCF – of natural gas.

Under the Same Shine Theory


Plenty of shine to go around, fellas and girls alike. And in the end, the shine you take is equal to the shine you make.


Michael O’Connor’s Cocinana is on the road. Rolling, rolling, rolling to you with fresh, hot tamales, kissing cousins to sandwiches. It’s a family affair after all, with Michael taking his inspiration, as well as at-the-knee cooking instruction, from many years in the kitchens of his grandmas and aunties. 

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Previous to the debut, Michael held a fabulous tamale fest at Clare and Don’s Beach Shack (sorry if you missed it) in Falls Church and the tamales were a shine-on-grandma smash hit! Wow, were they tasty. There will be more, so much more, than tamales from which to choose. Personally, I am praying for tortas. Michael, are you listening?


Sweet paint job and soon to include the names of those who gave to Cocinana’s GoFundMe, a lovely personal touch from an entrepreneur who is not short on gratitude or hard work.


Spanking clean and shiny. Makes a cook want to wrap on an apron and set to tamaleing. Out of my way, grandma!


The man strolls his empire. He’s got a truck of one’s own from which to sparkle and shine.


Weighing In and Seeking Balance

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Today we celebrate International Women’s Day, a day with roots in the civil, labor, immigrant rights, suffrage, and peace movements worldwide. Read more here.

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Do places make smaller sandwiches for women?

A while back we had legendary food critic Mimi Sheraton on the podcast. She told a story about driving around NYC and buying 104 pastrami sandwiches. She wanted to weigh them to see who gave you the biggest sandwich for your money.

A listener named Bill heard that conversation and called in with a provocative question: Do they make the sandwiches smaller for women?

This week on The Sporkful, we set off on a mission around New York with our friend Laura “L.V.” Anderson. We buy a bunch of sandwiches, weigh them, and crunch the numbers to see if the sandwiches made for her are smaller than the ones made for me.

Is sandwich sexism real? Listen to find out!

Listen and subscribe in iTunes or the Podcasts app, stream it through our site, or get the show wherever you get your podcasts.

Thank you, Mike Rhode, at ComicsDC, for the thought-provoking story alert.

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I will spend my day wearing red in solidarity, writing letters to my representatives voicing my concerns about the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, allowing my son to do his own laundry and to make our meals, and spending money only at businesses owned by women.

Fellas, I love ya, but I don’t want my life decisions, particularly the more personal- such as my physical well-being, made by you.