A sandwich to live for…

I don’t really understand the expression that something is “to die for.” Forget that! If something is really good, it’s worth living for!

I live for the simple pleasures in life, which include, among other things, the joy of fresh seasonal eating. Yesterday, for example, I made a couple of tomato sandwiches (one for me, one for Martine). This is one of my summertime favorites, for a reason I will tell in a future post. Usually my ultimate summer tomato sandwiches don’t make an appearance until August, when the local crop is at its tastiest, but I managed to find some local hot-house tomatoes that were almost as good as the out-doorsy ones, so I went for it.

The trick is to let the tomato do the talking. Don’t over-embellish it with fluffy froo-froos and strong-tasting this and that. Let the tomato be the star of the show, with a few simple supporting players, as follows:

The Bread
It must be toasted. Choose a nice easily-toastable bread such as a country-style miche or a nice whole-wheat loaf. Don’t use dark pumpernickel or similar untoastable breads (those are great for other things, but not for the ultimate tomato sandwich).

The Tomato
Only a fresh, red, plump tomato will do. Forget about those perfect-looking tomatoes you see “on the vine” in the grocery stores. Those are a modified breed that were created to look good and to ship without getting damaged. Their flavour is not brilliant. They’re acceptable in winter, when there is nothing else available, but to buy those in summer is like going to a restaurant in Bordeaux and ordering a bottle of wine from Argentina.*   Also, the tomato should be room-temperature, not cold from the fridge. One good-sized tomato will make two sandwiches.

The Supporting Players
A bit of mayonnaise is essential. You can use a “light” mayo if you prefer, but only if it is Hellman’s or Kraft (other light mayos are awful). Never use an “ultra-light” mayonnaise, as it is essentially just corn starch and water. Salt and pepper are essential, and the pepper must be freshly-ground. Ideally, the salt is something coarse, like fleur de sel. Basil is important, but don’t over-do it — this isn’t a pesto sandwich. Use no more than two medium leaves (chopped up) per sandwich. Finally, add one crisp piece of lettuce (the lettuce is there for a contrasting texture, so if your lettuce isn’t crisp, don’t bother with it).

The Secret Ingredient
Four drops of good-quality balsamic vinegar, carefully applied, can elevate this sandwich to gastronomic levels beyond expectation. Don’t drown it — seriously, just four drops per sandwich.

To recap:

– Toast the bread
– Slice the tomato
– Mayo the toast
– Layer the sliced tomato on the toast
– Season with salt and pepper, and chopped basil
– Carefully apply four drops of balsamic vinegar
– Add one piece of crisp lettuce.
– Top with second piece of mayo’ed toast, and slice on the diagonal.

Serve outdoors, with a chilled glass of rosé. Mmmm, summery goodness!

* Yes, there are many fine wines from Argentina, and when you are in Argentina you should drink them. But when you’re in Bordeaux, order a Bordeaux!

11 thoughts on “A sandwich to live for…

  1. Tabasco is also an excellent complement. Really does something to the flavor of the tomato. As with the Balsamic vinegar, less is more.

  2. In the Annapolis Valley when I was a kid I witnessed tomaotes being lightly sugared rather than peppered.

  3. Mmm. Of course, nothing is better than ripe, organic tomatoes in season; but what about different varieties? I know a couple of hundred households in Anjou and St-Leonard that grow yardsfuls of pomodoros…

    And thanks for reminding everyone: Don’t put your tomatoes in the fridge! (I had to recently debunk my mom’s fevered imaginings on this one, along with coffee. The shame!)

  4. I prefer italian tomatoes in sandwiches. I find they have a bit of a meatier flavor and can hold their own with the condiments.

  5. Holy sh*t!! A Blork recipe within my reach! One I’ve even already done!

    (snarking my abilities here, not the recipes ;) )

  6. You can also make strawberry sandwiches with the last few of the season, no mayo obviously but a grind of pepper or a drop of raspberry vinegar will lift it (less is more obviously).

  7. A strawberry sandwich! Wow. Hey, I saw a strawberry pizza in the supermarket yesterday…

  8. amusements

    This is funny. This is funnier. And this is a damn fine tomato sandwich….

  9. I was pondering the wonder that was a perfect tomato sandwich while eating one, and I decided to google it, and came across this wonderful recipe that I will have to try, BUT, I must say that if you have absolutely perfect, juicy, flavorful summer tomatoes (in Alabama and Virginia these come earlier than August), a sandwich composed of only tomatoes, bread, and a generous portion of mayonaise (it must be Hellman’s, never Kraft, but Duke’s will work in a pinch), plus salt and pepper of course, is quite wonderful.

  10. You weren’t joking, this sandwich is amazing, even with the lettuce omitted. I ate mine on a toasted sandwich bun and the sweetness of the bun with the tomato was incredible. I’ll never eat an untoasted tomato sandwich again XD

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