a simpler sound.

The Anatomy of the Perfect Sandwich.

I'll keep this short and simple.  Sandwiches are delicious. There's no other way around it.  They're simple, they're quick, and there's an infinite number of ways to make them. Anyone who denies loving a good sandwich is a person I find highly suspect. 

As Liz Lemon so eloquently put it,
"All of human kind has one thing on common. The sandwich. I believe that all anyone really wants in this life is to sit in peace and eat a sandwich." 

I couldn't agree with you more, Lemon. If you don't watch 30 Rock [if so, what's WRONG with you? :)], then check this out.

That being said, here's my go-to sandwich.  Certain variables change, but the basic layers stay the same.

Step 1: choose your bread
For a simple, cold cuts sandwich, I prefer a nice, hearty wheat bread.  For this one, I used Arnold's Healthfull Flax & Fiber bread. When I'm being less health conscious, there's nothing like crisp ciabatta bread. Yum.

Step 2: choose your spread
Some people like to lather on the mayonnaise, but I can't stand the stuff. If I ever do use it, it's very sparingly.  I do love honey mustard [it's perfect with turkey or ham], but for this sandwich, I used cream horseradish, because it's fantastic with roast beef. 

Step 3: choose your lettuce
Baby arugula or baby spinach are my go-to veggies [I used spinach in this one] but I also like using alfalfa sprouts [or any other veggie in sprout form] or fresh basil for an Italian twist.

Step 4: choose your protein
The simplest sandwich uses cold cuts, and I love turkey, ham and roast beef.  The roast beef was particularly tasty this week, and has a stronger flavor than the other two [in my opinion]. I do love having extra grilled chicken breasts on hand in the fridge, since those are perfect in a sandwich.  If I'm going vegetarian, my protein of choice is mashed chickpeas, or hummus. I also love using avocado in place of meat.  It's not high in protein, but the good fat content satiates any need for meat.  I don't buy avocados enough since they've been on the pricier side recently, but they are a favorite of mine.

Step 5: choose your extras
I like to add on a couple extra fixings to a sandwich.  Apple slices add a great crunch to a sandwich, and pair really well with cheddar cheese; the same goes with pears.  But when heirloom tomatoes are in season, that's the first thing I'll use.  They're unlike any other tomatoes, and they're usually the perfect size for a sandwich.  For this sandwich I had an heirloom on hand, and also topped it with some thinly sliced white Vermont cheddar.  

And there you have it: simple, unfettered with, and always delicious.  Make it healthy, make it gluttonous- the choice is yours.  Therein lies the beauty of the sandwich.

Summer Spinach Salad with Sugared Pecans.

On a hot day, something cool and refreshing is the only thing I can tolerate to eat. Ice cream and popsicles aside, I actually really enjoy a good salad on a day like this.  Usually my salads consist of a hodge podge of ingredients found in my fridge.  I'm of the 'more is more' mindset when it comes to ingredients in my salad.  That being said, here's what I'm eating today:

Jo's Hot Summer Spinach Salad with Sugared Pecans

Serves 2 [or one very hungry girl, like myself]

For the dressing:
1 Tablespoon unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 squeeze of clementine juice [this probably comes to about a teaspoon I'd guess]
salt & pepper [to taste]
a pinch of sugar [depending on the fruit in my salad, I sometimes omit this, but it does add a nice balance to the acidity of the vinegar]

Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl.

For the salad:
2 cups baby spinach
1 tablespoon of alfalfa sprouts [I really like pea shoots too, whatever you've got around works]
1-2 clementines, segmented [or tangerines, or naval oranges]
1/4 cup raspberries, lightly rinsed

Add baby spinach to the large bowl with dressing and toss to coat. Add in sprouts, clementines and raspberries, gently tossing.  

For the Sugared pecans:
1 cup pecans [this is a bit much in one salad, so I like to save some for snacking later]
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar

Warm a pan on medium heat and add nuts.  Allow them to toast for a few minutes, just until they become fragrant.  Add butter and melt.  Toss to coat. Remove from heat and add sugar and toss to combine.

Add 1/4 cup of pecans to salad, lightly tossing.

I also like to add sliced grilled chicken breast to this salad.  In the summer, I like to grill a lot of chicken at once, allow them to cool, slice and store them in the fridge.  Then, I can always add them to any meal. 

Atlanta Eats: Belly [and a brief rant about the availability of ketchup].

Atlanta is full of fun neighborhoods with lots of funky little shops and restaurants. I love living right in the heart of the city, because within a few blocks, I can get everything I need: groceries, a bank, coffee shops, cafes, restaurants and more.  Some of my favorite spots are a little farther, but nothing a 20-30 minute walk can't fix.

As it gets hotter [and stickier, bleh] in Atlanta, my walking radius shrinks a bit and I start to frequent the same close by spots more and more. One such place is Belly General Store, a Virginia Highland staple that sits in a space filled with history.  Once a beloved soda shop for over 70 years, the space now provides in-house made olive oil bagels, cupcakes, sandwiches and more. 

Above, you can see my lunch: a roast beef sandwich with tomatoes, lettuce and a horseradish aioli.  All their sandwiches come with a deviled egg, which is always a treat for whoever I'm with, since I'm not a deviled egg enthusiast.  I also grabbed an old school bottle of [diet] coke and a bag of Route 11 potato chips.  The meal came to around $12, which is on the pricier side for a quick bite to eat.  Another slight irritation was the fact that when I asked for ketchup, the person at the register chuckled at me, saying "we don't do ketchup here." That put me off a bit, since I can very well see why a fine dining establishment might not carry ketchup packets, but a 'general store' refusing to provide any condiments [I tried, they won't give you mustard either] seemed odd.

I'm one of the few [weird] people who enjoys dipping their kettle cooked potato chips in a little ketchup.  It's like eating french fries, but in a lighter, crispier form. Add a pinch of sriracha or hot sauce to the mix and you've entered a whole new realm of awesome.   So I get why ketchup might be a non-essential for most in this application, but Belly also sells breakfast sandwiches made with eggs, and I know not everyone likes ketchup on their eggs, but if a poll were to be performed [and I'm this close to initiating one] I'd say a hefty portion of the public would at least like the option of ketchup!  I mean the classic egg and cheese on a bagel isn't worth batting my eyelashes at if there isn't any of the sweet, salty red stuff at my disposal.  [Hmph. Okay, rant done.]

I will say the bread my sandwich was made with was phenomenal, and my tomato was flavorful and not bland and watery as one can sometimes get with their lunch meat. And slap horseradish on anything and I will happily eat it, so that was a welcome touch to my sandwich.

Rants aside, I really do like hanging out at this place. I love the old time feel of Belly. The original brick walls, along with the hefty farm tables and benches breathe a bit of history into the space. There's a great eclectic quality that stems from the way the place is decorated.  
It's no surprise the space was actually used for a movie a couple years back.  The cheesy, contrived rom-com Life As We Know It, starring Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel, was filmed throughout Atlanta, with some critical scenes taking place right in my neighborhood and inside Belly.  I know all this because I had a major role in the film [as a superb extra- I think my best shot is somewhere between minutes 16 and 21] and spent a lot of time hanging around set [this much is true- my stardom, less so].  

So although I find their food a bit overpriced, and their lack of ketchup appalling, [oh and they really need to turn on the fans or AC, since it was awfully hot in there this week, but I digress...] I come back because it's so convenient and comfortable and I can compromise on everything else because it's a little piece of my neighborhood, and a little piece of Atlanta history [and b-movie history while we're at it].

Good Atlanta Eats: Fritti

This past Saturday, I had a morning hanging out with my Mom. Part of our afternoon activities [more of which will be detailed in another post] included a late lunch at Fritti, an Italian eatery serving authentic Neopolitan style pizza- so good it's certified. We sat on the outdoor patio that was sheltered by big, red umbrellas [hence the redish hue to the photos I took]. We split our meal, as we almost always do [I love being able to taste a little bit of everything on the table]. 

We started with the Insalatona, an Italian take on the Cobb salad- made with mixed greens, four cheeses, egg, cotto ham, salame, marinated artichokes and sliced red onions.  This was the perfect salad to share and every ingredient was fresh and unfettered with.  

After a rather long wait [as I suppose all good things are accustomed to doing], we split the Speck e Rucola pizza, topped with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, smoked prosciutto and arugula. Simple ingredients, all of which are standards in my Italian inspired kitchen.  What truly makes their pizza is the dough.  This wasn't a crispy pizza dough, and that crispy crust is certainly missed [I've ordered from here before, and I must say, it's even better reheated in a 500+ degree oven at home, placed on a baking sheet or pizza stone that's been heated in the oven] but the doughy texture makes for a great mouth feel.

Definitely give Fritti a try, if you haven't already.