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West Seattle Living: Crossing the Bridge for Bar del Corso

August 21, 2012 1 comment

I desperately need for the first thing you read here to be: Just GO try the Polpettine. For $7 you get a little bowl of house-made meatballs in tomato sauce. I think there were five meatballs, all-told. I’m a little hazy on the entire thing because they were mind-numbingly good. You can go in there, sit at the bar, and just have the meatballs. If that doesn’t convince you you’re in the hands of people who know what they are doing…I’ve concerns about your soul.

Okay, moving on.

If I’m honest, we didn’t leave the peninsula specifically to finally try Beacon Hill’s shining light of a restaurant atop the promontory visible to the east every time any of us leave our neighborhood via the high bridge. We were actually returning from a big loop of a day which took the entire family to the Sounders game Saturday afternoon before heading north to Lynnwood so Owen could have a sleepover at Grammy and Pops’ house (which also means adult time for the Missus and I).

Full disclosure: A former coworker is now a co-owner of the restaurant. Read into that what you will.

Bar del Corso has been open for over a year. At least, I’m pretty sure it has. I know it seems like it’s been at least a year that many of my coworkers with great palates have been asking me regularly whether I’d yet had food there and then looking astonished that I’ve continued to neglect trying it.

Did I mention the Polpettine? Good gravy…

We had heard enough about Bar del Corso to know it was bound to be busy on a Saturday night, even a little before dinnertime (it was near 6, but not quite there). Even so, I didn’t expect to see a good-size huddle outside the front door of the restaurant awaiting their turn to pick at the menu.

I’m admittedly bad at waiting in line for anything, much less food. However, the Missus had her heart and mind set on finally dining here.

Plus, even when not in a third trimester of pregnancy, she has a well-established reputation for an appreciation of pizza.

We were going in, line be damned.

Shockingly, when we told the greeter/hostess-type at the front door we’d need seating for two, we were immediately offered seats at the bar.

Now, I have always liked sitting at the bar for dinner. It may not be for everyone. Despite having the word “bar” in the name, the bar in Bar del Corso, at least during dinner rush, was packed with diners rather than drinkers. You can just bar the concept of “bar” from your head when considering the bar in Bar del Corso.

That was annoying, no?

Let’s just get to the food.

First, the Polpettine are simply marvelous (not entirely) little spheres of…

What? I already mentioned the meatballs? You sure?

Okay.

We decided to go with a few small plates and a pizza. We asked the bartender (server working the bar?) whether that would be enough food for two. She seemed to be leaning toward “maybe, but probably not.”

I assure you, it’s enough.

Not that I would have been unable to wolf down an entire pizza on my own. I’d gladly do that. In fact, I may just do that some night I’m on my own for dinner.

But, in general, one pizza supplemented with a few appetizers should suffice for two people.

There was/is a seasonal menu on the wall. I love seasonal cooking. Apparently, so too does Jerry Corso (owner and executive chef?).

Among the “little plates” available seasonally was three wedges of cantaloupe draped with thin-sliced prosciutto with a few fresh figs on the side. Some of you have likely already tried some version of this dish in the past and know how good

I’d eat this every day for lunch for a week, easily.

it is. I wouldn’t sell this as hard as I would the meatballs (Have I said to try the meatballs, yet?), but it is a worthy order, especially if sitting at the bar where you get to see the big hunk of prosciutto shaved a few feet and mere moments from where you’re dining.

The dish brings out the best overall praise I have to offer from my dining experience: simple, seasonal, fresh, and delicious.

Of course, it’s only fair to note that the third appetizer we ordered was a bit of a let-down.

I grew up watching my grandfather eating canned sardines and wondering just how he was managing the trick. All these years later, my wife wonders the same when I bust out a can of sardines and crackers as a snack.

Hence, there was no chance I was going to pass on the zucchini blossoms stuffed with anchovies (and maybe other things my age-addled memory has omitted). Each order is only one of the stuffed blossoms, but they’re only $2.50 each. Unfortunately, for me, they just tasted like batter-dipped-and-fried just about anything else in the world. I didn’t get much out of it otherwise. It may be my palate, of course, but I was hoping for a lot more flavor, while all I got from this in particular was texture. On that angle, they were executed beautifully. Flavor-wise? Not much to offer, I’m afraid.

If you want something fried, steer to the Suppli al Telefono. Described as “Roman street food,” these are fried balls of risotto packed around mozzarella cheese.

“Croquettes by Phone?”

They’re even better than they sound.

They’re even better than they look.

Luckily, there are just three to an order. I could easily eat a dozen without blinking. I can see why they’d be street food in Rome. After a night out imbibing in the appreciation of the oenological arts, you’d be only too happy to stumble over cobbblestone streets dodging mopeds while munching on them.

Can you tell I’ve never been to Italy?

Finally, we went with the seasonal pizza on offer, which I know had zucchini and pesto on it.

Realistically, if I am going to bother to post about these things, it might make sense to write stuff down and all that, but I was too busy stuffing my face. Besides, you have enough information to figure it out if you’re going to go, yeah?

Who would NOT want a pizza baked in such a gorgeous oven?

 

The wood-fired oven and the pizzas prepared in it are the stars of the show here.  While there is plenty to enjoy all over the menu, it is a small menu with pizzas featuring exclusively in that whole main dish area.

Unless you’re one of those people who just want a salad on your night out. You’re not one of those, are you?

It is Seattle. I try to not judge, but…don’t be that person. Not tonight.

Here is where I preface commentary with the admission I am part of a mixed marriage. I prefer thin-crust pizza. The Missus prefers thicker crusts.

Somehow, we manage to make it work.

The pizzas here are, predictable, on the thinner side, so I was bound to be happy with it.

And, I was.

The Missus, however, took the opportunity to clarify that, while she does not generally prefer thin-crust pizza, she is always happy with this particular style of thin crust. After which she took a full, two-handed whack at the pizza restaurant I grew up enjoying in my small-town Michigan childhood.

Fair enough.

What was put in front of us was a beautiful disc of dough dotted along the edges with the brown spots familiar to those who’ve enjoyed pizzas prepared in a wood-fired oven and topped with plenty of color surrounding the numerous melty pools of cheese.

Or, simply, a damned good pizza.

DAMNED good, I tell you.

I mean, good enough to leave the peninsula on the weekend. THAT good!

And that really is all I meant to say here. I am particularly fond of getting back to West Seattle from work Friday night and doing whatever I can to not leave the ‘hood until Monday morning, so I would understand those hesitant to venture away from our part of the city.  But going over to Beacon Hill is about as painless as it gets in this regard as you just cross the high bridge there and back. Consider it an adventure, if you must.

Besides, you have to try the meatballs.

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West Seattle Living: Pan Africa Grill Does Everything Wrong

Perhaps I am partially to blame.

When I first heard the Pan Africa Grill was opening in our neighborhood last fall, I was instantly interested. I like Ethiopian food, which was apparently a large part of the venture’s core offerings. While Seattle has a fair number of options for Ethiopian and east African dining, I’m always happy to have a west Seattle entry of favorite cuisines. One of the effects of living here seems to be that if I don’t have to cross the bridge, leaving the neighborhood, I’d just as soon keep it local.

I’m sure it’s part of some larger personality flaw.

Anyhow, as far as I knew, this would be the first option for Ethiopian nearby, so it was going on a list of places to try.

And there it stayed for a while.

Then came the season premiere of “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” which took place in Mozambique. Was a pretty great and interesting episode aside from the food content, to be honest, but all I could think about was how much Bourdain seemed to be enjoying eating something called “Piri Piri Chicken.” Granted, he was doing so accompanied by a rather large bottle of beer at a table near a very sunny beach.

A consultation with the Google revealed to me that I wouldn’t need leave the neighborhood to get a taste of the chicken, as it was listed dead-center on the menu of none other than Pan Africa Grill.

Though, it being Seattle, large beer at a sunny beach-side table…take more than Google to find that (sorry Sergey and other rich dude whose name I forget because it’s not Sergey).

So it was that discussions of dinner plans for a Tuesday night quickly went to “maybe this is a good time to try Pan Africa Grill.” The Missus was clearly trying to keep me from making a mess in the kitchen more than she was trying to indulge my desire for the promise of spectacularly spicy and tangy chicken, but that’s okay, isn’t it?

The only slight objection I raised is that Owen hadn’t been in bed by his stated bed-time in several successive nights and that we’d run the risk of extending the streak by dining out. Wasn’t a strenuous objection, rather a heading-off of the suggestion we make a shopping run after dinner to get a few things.

Shopping is not dessert.

Despite concerns about bed times, we didn’t manage to enter Pan Africa Grill’s front door until 6:50. It happens, especially with the obstacles the city continually puts in front of anyone trying to get to the westside from Seattle (my oh my, the bleeding construction never ends…)

No quick greeting at the front door. It happens, especially at smaller, indie joints on off nights.

The woman who seemed to be arranging tables and carrying menus passed us a few times, but didn’t bother to acknowledge she saw us waiting to be acknowledged. This…probably shouldn’t happen. Hospitality usually opens with a greeting of some sort. Like it or not, once you’ve opened a restaurant, you’re in the hospitality business to some degree.

Eventually we were led to a table. The length of the wait wasn’t really that notable. Or, it wouldn’t have been except for the lack of a greeting.

Now, my son is just over two years old. You wouldn’t confuse him, height-wise, for someone old enough to drive. Despite this, we were taken to a table with four adult-sized chairs and two adult menus, and the woman quickly moved along. In almost all our dining experiences to date, this would be because she was going to fetch a high chair, though, usually, we’ll be asked whether we’d prefer a high chair or booster seat.

After far too many minutes, however, with no return on behalf of our hostess, I decided to strike out on my own in search of an appropriate seat for my son.

I went toward the back of the restaurant, which opens into a big, bright room that seemed like it would be a lovely space in which to have dinner. Unfortunately, there was some sort of cooking class being conducted in that room, which I quickly got the impression I had interrupted. So, back to the dark, narrower part of the restaurant where the small number of diners in the house were sequestered.

Having seen the back room, it became more obvious how dark and unappealing that particular area of the building was by comparison. Also, due to the hallway that connected to the kitchen, the smells from the kitchen seemed to be drafting directly to us. This might be okay in some cases, but the aroma was overwhelmingly of onion. It was not pleasant.

After yet another too long period of time, I managed to catch the hostess (I’m just calling her that for sake of convenience. She seemed to be the catch-all front-of-house person. And by “the,” I do mean “only.”) to ask whether we might get a high chair.

“We only have one and it is being used.”

Booster seat?

“No. We don’t have any.”

Some will have already dismissed this along the lines of “people with kids expect the world to cater to them” which is some weird default thing thrown out by some people without kids who seem to resent that people with kids want to still take part in things rather than limit our public appearances to places catering specifically to children.

To those, I offer only something like, “Go fuck yourself.”

I smiled, chuckled, and offered that it was “no big deal” and that we would “find a way to make it work.”

Should it matter that, at some point over the next hour-and-change we waited for any sign of our food to be arriving, The Missus took Owen to wash his hands, partly to distract him from the fact he’d been sitting mostly still for the better part of an hour, and discovered that the restaurant did have booster seats just sitting unused on a shelf?  I don’t actually believe we were told they didn’t have any as part of a very Seattle-like passive-aggressive strike at people who would dare bring a child into what is clearly not a child-friendly restaurant, but…what is the remaining explanation? She doesn’t know what a booster seat is?!

Still…I choose to believe it was innocent.

No kids menu here, by the way, and no help from the hostess as to what might make a suitable item for a child. Of course, asking for food for a child makes most people think you’re looking for their closest thing to chicken fingers, pizza, or a grilled cheese, so it maybe is again my fault that the woman suggested plantain chips.

We were getting those anyway. We added a chicken sambusa to the appetizer order and figured we’d share some of our entree items with Owen.

Well, I didn’t think I’d be able to give him any of the Piri Piri Chicken or even the Harissa Mac & Cheese, but probably some of my Cilantro Mashed Coconut Potatoes. The Missus ordered Chicken Doro Wott which came with “injera,” which we love and figure to be the thing Owen could eat, if nothing else.

The appetizers came out in a reasonable amount of time. We all enjoyed the plantain chips. Owen didn’t like the sambusa as much, but…he’s two; what does he know? It was good.

And then…just a long, long wait.

Not a long, long wait peppered by frequent updates on what was taking so long or how much longer it would be. Nor with offers of more appetizers while our food was spectacularly delayed. In fact, I don’t remember seeing the hostess/server/catch-all at our table other than for collecting the dishes from the entrees.

Nothing when I walked by her on the way out the door to run up and down the block with Owen to get him some Owen time doing Owen things which does not really include sitting still at a table waiting for food to appear. Nothing when I came back 15 minutes later, at which point I entered the building thinking, for sure, I’d been outside long enough for food to have appeared.

Nothing…just a whole lot of nothing.

We made the decision to have the food packed directly to take home at that point. I let The Missus pay the bill, so I was not present to hear the woman running the show explain that it was only going to be another 5 to 10 minutes (turned out to be nearly 20 from that point, says my wife), nor was I there when my wife was told that we were not being charged for the milk our son had.

Nearly 90 minutes to deliver two menu items and you comp a milk?!

Bare minimum, you should be taking care of the appetizers, but, for a fuck-up of this magnitude, you should be comping the entire bill and probably still be banking that the guest is unlikely to return. Short of that, comp nothing at all because, honestly, it’s a bit insulting. It’s like your acknowledging that you blew it, but can barely be bothered to say you are sorry about it.

And, come to think of it, the word “sorry” never came up. I was finally summoned from my table to the front of the restaurant to collect my food (which, by the way, was still 5 minutes from being ready…I think she wanted the dining room to have one less very unhappy person sulking at their table) and stood there waiting in silence. Man, even a, “Oh, by the way, EVERYONE knows that it takes over an hour to make Piri Piri Chicken so you suck for being mad about this” would have been preferable to the silent treatment. The lack of acknowledgement of a problem(aside from the graciously comped milk) is astonishing.

We got the food home and ate in shifts while trying also to get the boy bathed and in jammies and read his nightly two books. Hence, by the time we actually ate it, it was not as hot as it would have been.

What I remember most from Bourdain’s description of Piri Piri Chicken was, “You notice whenever they put the piri piri sauce on the table, they dole that shit out like it’s pure cocaine. There’s never more than a tiny little bit in there. They don’t trust you with a lot of it…You don’t want to hold onto this spicy chicken and then go take a leak later. That would hurt.”

Hence, I was expecting…no…CRAVING some heat.

What I got was a vaguely spicy half-chicken coated in a sauce that was heavy on the citrus and garlic. The citrus dominated. It was unbalanced. You could call it sloppy.

Same for the mac & cheese offering. Was all harissa up front. Nothing behind it. In fact, I’d challenge anyone to identify anything remotely cheesy about it. I would not be surprised to learn there is no cheese at all in that dish.

The potatoes were a whole mess of bland spiked violently with cilantro. The cilantro was so completely overwhelming that I started to have some sympathy for people who don’t like cilantro. I usually think they’re crazy, but if it delivers to their palate the same taste-shock I got with this…I should be nicer to them.

The Missus found her dish to be too spicy. I tasted it and have to sadly report that it was, indeed, spicier than mine (you know, the one with the chile pepper next to it on the menu). At this point, you just figure…there’s nothing going right in this restaurant. Just nothing. I don’t have one good thing to say about it!

Now, had the food come out in 15 minutes? Hell, in 30? Well, we’d still have been underwhelmed by the food, no doubt, as well as the absence of any personality in the atmosphere of the restaurant, but…that would have been it. We’d have eaten and left underwhelmed, destined to either omit Ethiopian from our dining-out options or accept that we couldn’t do it without crossing a bridge or two.

Learn from our mistake and save yourself an awful dining experience. I know a little place up near Northgate where I took The Missus for her first-ever taste of Ethiopian food. I remember the woman running the show there to be wearing a smile while delivering very good food in a timely manner in a well-lit room that did not smell overwhelmingly of onion. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’d rather sit in rush hour traffic to get there than drive the few miles down the street next time I want to indulge in this cuisine.

Some Earth Day Grillin’ and Gardenin’

April 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Before we even knew the forecast, we had decided Sunday would be the day we dig the garden.

It’s convenient to now think of it as an “Earth Day” activity, but the truth of the matter is that my awareness of the comings and goings of the actual day of “Earth Day” is tangential at best. At some point I knew it was coming, but that didn’t really put it on my radar.

However, seeing as it was quite pleasant here in Seattle, weather-wise, and because we’d planned an earthy activity on an earthy (faux) holiday, we turned it into a bit of a family event.

Among my many neuroses, would be a persistent concern about food and all the nasty things that can happen to it between the time it’s gathered in its raw/natural state and the time it arrives on my plate.

Actually, the true terror isn’t really when it arrives on my plate, rather on the plates of my wife and child. I get the benefit of said concern for the well-being of the others, so…there you go.

Hence, in addition to wanting to make sure Owen grows up with a hard-wired love for Detroit sports and music made with stringed instruments, I hope to instill in him an adventurous palate and a strong understanding of food. I believe a key component to this is going to be giving him a life-long appreciation for where food comes from.

I’m certain that, had I been asked when I was in elementary school where food came from, my response would have included words like “cans” and “grocery store.” This despite the fact I count among my most treasured memories sitting with my grandfather on his Allis-Chalmers tractor traversing corn fields.

Same beloved grandfather would send us kids out to the fields to bring back large rocks for which he’d pay us on a per-piece basis. I now realize this was a very low-cost way to get some peace and quiet in the house.

George Doubrava was a wise man.

Anyhow, my point would be that I plan to put forward a focused effort on arming my son with as much knowledge and understanding of food as possible and hope it benefits him his entire life.

Turns out it’s not entirely difficult to sell a toddler on the idea of digging a garden. I don’t even think Owen was particularly psyched about digging in the dirt, which might seem a stereotypical sales point for a young boy. All we had to do was bolster his natural desire to be doing whatever he sees Mommy and Daddy doing with a tool he could use.

Orange watering can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s it! That’s all it took!

Well, “all” includes refilling the can several times to account for both how little water it took to make the can too heavy for him to carry without spilling it all over himself, as well as for how quickly he was able to dump the water. Unlike the gentle misting effect of the typical Seattle rain shower, Owen likes to go for the midwestern-style downpour where no umbrella can really save you.

In a sort of celebration to the launch of our gardening operations, we also heated some charcoal for a particularly meaty, not-at-all gardened dinner entree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What better way to bust into the warm weather of “grilling season’ than with a giant sandwich of grilled meat? Other than vegetarians, who doesn’t love a burger?

Despite having turned myself off from the prospect of buying meat from most sources, I still am generally open to the products found at our local Metropolitan Market, which made it an especially sunny moment when I wandered over to the meat department to see them running a special on Wagyu beef. With enough meat to make two large adult patties and a toddler version costing me less than $6, I couldn’t resist.

I know Anthony Bourdain would think me an idiot for eating ground Wagyu beef, but after having it at Hubert Keller’s burger bar…well…I just don’t care. It’s crazy delicious.

The Missus had requested a pasta salad with the meal.  She also wanted tomatoes, artichokes, and Parmesan cheese in the salad.

Being the wise guy I am, I hit the market’s olive bar for some marinated artichoke hearts AND an artichoke lemon pesto thingy I thought would work for oil. Also, trying to be considerate, I opted for some sheep milk feta to help with any lactose issues known to rear their heads in the house, and a small block of another firm sheep cheese spiked with black truffles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Result? BAM! (What? NOBODY but Emeril get’s to use ‘bam!’ amy more? Please…)

I used a Barilla pasta that wasn’t quite like the rotini/rotelle I am used to getting, though, if I’m honest, I don’t remember whether it was called either of those things. It’s definitely spiral-like, as you can see, but can be stretched out, rather than being held to a certain length. This worked most advantageously for Owen who dragged a few spirals around his plate while making a snake-like “sssssssssssssssssssssssss…’NAKE!”

(It’s funny he can do the “ssssssssssssssssss” all day long, but always says he’s being a “NAKE” and that he takes his shoes and “DOCKS” off. Not sure when it’ll click he can put the hissing sound in front of “nake” and say “snake,” but it’s cute for now.)

Unfortunately, the Missus had particularly wanted the Parmesan to satisfy some need to salty something or other. She claims to really like the salad I made, though.

Moving on…

We supplemented the entire venture with the leftover Spring Asparagus Salad I had made the day prior.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s my recipe. I am “Seattle Dad.” The secret is OUT!

Hearty, well-sourced meal provided the calories to go dig in the dirt for a while. It felt momentous to get started on something that will pay dividends potentially for years beyond our time in this house.

So, Happy Earth Day, even to you scrooges who turn on extra lights to spite the “libs.”

Happy National Grilled Cheese Day!

April 12, 2012 3 comments

When you hear it’s “National Grilled Cheese Day,” you don’t necessarily want to know why such a day exists, nor for how long it exists. It’s probably all a conspiracy of bread producers and cheesemakers and those cheeky buggers at Hallmark who are always manufacturing holidays to bolster greeting card sales.

Well, I don’t. I shan’t speak for you specifically.

MY reaction upon learning today was THE day was, “We’re having grilled cheese tonight.”

But it couldn’t just be grilled cheese now, could it? I mean, we slap some Dave’s Killer ‘Good Seed’ Bread around a few slices of Tillamook Cheddar as a quick-and-dirty meal solution regularly, so if we’re going to commit first-degree grilled cheese-ing, it’d just need to be something other.

It did not take an enormous amount of time or thought to recall a grilled cheese experience so ridiculous that, once I’d considered it, there was no going back.

GIMME GIMME GIMME un Croque-Monsieur!!!

It wasn’t all THAT long ago when I’d never heard of such a thing. In fact, now that I think on it, a few of my French friends have some explaining to do…

Anyhow, the sandwich with the fancy French-y name is, in short, a grilled ham and cheese…wait, it gets better, topped with a Béchamel (white sauce( and MORE CHEESE..which you brown under the broiler!

No, you do not have to wait 364 more days to try one, but, depending on your dietary habits, it might not be a horrible idea to limit it to an annual treat.

Selling this as a dinner plan was not a concern. Both the Missus and the Bubba are among the most-prolific cheese eaters I’ve ever known.

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 bay leaf
a few grates fresh nutmeg
4 completely hacked (my bread slicing skills are challenged by big loaves) slices of Macrina Bakery’s “Macrina Casera” bread
2 slices Dave’s Killer ‘Good Seed’ Bread (the Bubba will eat crust, but it isn’t his favorite)
6 slices Black Forest ham
6 slices havarti cheese (I understand gruyere to be more traditional, but I love the creaminess of havarti)
melted butter for brushing
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (again, I went with what I wanted because I’m the one eating it and not you finicky French person!)
To make the Béchamel, you start by making a white roux from the butter and flour. I know there is more of an art to it than what I did, which was melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir the flour into it until it was all gooey and roux-like. Maybe someday I’ll dangle some Abita Turbodog off the front porch and snag me a proper Cajun wandering randomly through West Seattle (you know, like they do…) and make them teach me to master the art of the roux, but, today, it was a working Dad trying to get dinner on the table before 7 p.m., so…slap-dash!

Once you have the roux, add the milk in small amounts, whisking to incorporate it into the roux with each addition. Once it’s all in there, you should have a big, semi-thick white-ish sauce. From here, go ahead and increase the heat and get the sauce boiling. It’ll thicken up pretty well, but keep stirring it so it doesn’t scald on the bottom (not a huge problem if it does, it turns out…).

I’m certain you know what to do with the bread, cheese, and ham to get them looking like sandwiches. Once you’ve done that, brush one side of each with melted butter. Cook the buttered side in a hot, flat skillet (medium heat should work) until it’s golden brown (or darker, if you like it like that). If you’re smart, you realized to butter the top of the sandwich so you can just flip it when you’re ready, rather than forgetting and then having an “Oh, sugar!” moment before rapidly slopping some melted butter atop the sandwich so you can turn before you burn.

While you’re getting the sandwiches in order, preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with parchment if you have it and like to save a little bit of clean-up.

The grilled sandwiches (I like to write it “sammiches” for whatever reason, so I may or may not start doing that) go on the parchment-lined sheet. Top each sandwich with a generous spread of the Béchamel; as you can see, you have plenty, so get that sammich covered with a nice, thick layer! Sprinkle the shredded cheese atop the Béchamel in such a way you’ll get a nice layer of browned cheese over the sauce.

Then…yeah, you guessed it…put the sandwiches under the broiler until you get that browned cheese floating atop the Béchamel layer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apologies for the lame, blurry phone photo.

They’ll probably be easier to eat if you cut them somehow. I use a pizza cutter to hack the adult’s sammiches into halves and the Bubba’s into six small rectangles.

An acceptable-because-it’s-your-family sampling of the sauce (yeah, there was some finger-licking involved) told me my first go at making these was about to prove a HUGE success. The Missus saw the look on my face and started sticking her fingers into our son’s sandwich under the ruse of organizing it onto the plate for him so she could get a quick preview before getting to the table.

WINNING! (I know Charlie Sheen references are a bit dated by now, but it fits; trust me!)

To cut the fatty deliciousness of the sammiches, I quartered a pint of cherry Heirloom-style tomatoes and tossed them with salt, olive oil, a French dried herb mixture, and a splash of red wine vinegar. I love when the fresh tomatoes start to show up en masse. Hard to believe how much I used to fear/loathe tomatoes!

A story for another day…

The Bubba, as he is wont to do with melty cheese between bread or tortillas, peeled the layers apart to eat them semi-separately. He peeled the ham off some of the cheese and bread, held it out to me and said, “This is TOOKEY!”

“No Owen, that is ham.”

“It’s TOOKEY!” And, in the mouth it went.

I’ll eventually work on fixing that, but as he was eating it and was happy to believe it to be turkey…willing to let it go at 26 months.

A few moments later, the bits of dark skin from the edges of the ham came back out of the mouth accompanied by a bit of a squishy face and an “I no like this.” The Missus tried to explain that it was okay if he didn’t like it and that he could just put it down on his tray, but before she could finish, the Bubba had popped the not-so-offending bits back into the mouth for further examination.

They did not return to the conversation.