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The California Sandwich – for Locovores

October 28, 2010

This is a story of false assumptions. Having grown up in California, I was always told that we had the best produce in the world, and I felt lucky to live in a land of sunshine and oranges.

Between the chilly weather and Britain’s less-than-stellar reputation for food, I figured I was in for a year of tinned vegetables and starchy fillers. Or, more realistically, that most of my food would be imported from warmer climates. Boy, was I wrong.

If the labels in the supermarket are any indication, folks here are as obsessed with local eating as us Californians, perhaps even more so. Most of the food is advertised as “British sugar” or “British potatoes” or “British hearts of romaine.”

We also have at least 2 weekly farmer’s markets, and while it would be unfair to compare them to Berkeley’s enormous Michael-Pollan-fueled food fests, they seem to do a respectable business and the food is great.

Which brings me to my sandwich. I started thinking of it as a California Sandwich ages ago because it embodies some of the things I love about my home state. It’s got all of the components of the classic American grilled cheese, but with an attitude, and it relies on really good, fresh ingredients to make it work.

However, with the notable exception of the avocado (thanks globalization!), this particular sandwich is an entirely British-born. The onion, pepper, tomato and bread are from the local farmer’s market and the other ingredients are from elsewhere in England. So, I’m happy to say that I’m not living on imports, even if I need the occasional avocado to stave off homesickness.

Enough philosophizing, let’s start buttering. Sourdough, please!

Butter-side down in the pan, mustard and red onions on top. Don’t judge me, one of these sandwiches is for my husband. On the other hand, eating two is no great challenge.

One layer of roasted pepper. (For instructions to roast your own, see Tuesday’s post.) Otherwise, you can use the canned variety.

This is red Leicester-style cheese, which I was trying out, but the preferred cheese is cheddar.

Tomatoes. The flavor of these was quite good, but CA has them beat on tomato texture.

Probably the most important part: avocado, salt and pepper.

Cover it all up with some more butter.

Grill on low heat until the bread is golden and the cheese is melted.

Enjoy with a glass of orange juice or a cup of tea, depending on the weather.

California Sandwich, a cure for homesickness

Takes about 30 minutes, including all of the prep
Makes one sandwich

2 slices sourdough bread
1-2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1 teaspoon mustard
handful of thinly-sliced red onion
1/2 roasted green chile pepper
a few slices of cheddar cheese
1 small tomato (or 1/2 a large one)
1/2 medium avocado

1. Butter one slice of sourdough bread and lay it butter-side down on a frying pan or griddle.
2. Layer the onion, pepper, cheese, tomato and avocado in that order. Lay down the second piece of bread and butter it on top.
3. Cook on low heat, pressing down on the sandwich occasionally with a spatula. Turn over when the bottom bread is browned and continue cooking until the cheese s fully melted and both sides are golden brown.
4. Eat, then lick your fingers.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Parsifal permalink
    October 28, 2010 9:06 pm

    I liked this…

    Nice build up through the pictures to the finale. Might have to give this one a whirl!

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

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