Published December 20. 2012 4:00AM
One of the greatest thrillers ever written is "The First Deadly Sin" by Lawrence Sanders, notable for many things including that the policeman/hero, Captain Edward X. Delaney, loved sandwiches.
I learned a lot in that book, and not just about the homicidal properties of an ice-ax. I also learned that Delaney classified his sandwiches as either "wet" or "dry," meaning the former must be eaten whilst standing over the sink to avoid potentially irritating drippage! Valuable info!
Similarly, in Stephen King's "Salem's Lot," graveyard sextant Mike Ryerson demonstrated how inured he was to the macabre nature of his job by routinely eating half his sandwich lunch before digging a grave and the remainder after the actual funeral service:
"Mike Ryerson came back and sat down on the edge of the grave to eat his last half sandwich ... The sandwich was bologna and cheese, his favorite. All the sandwiches he made were his favorites."
I'm with you, Ryerson (and it's too bad a corpse is going to rise out of the grave and attack you in about three pages)!
The point is, sandwiches are basically one of the great things about living in the world and, as such, it's only proper that I'd close out 2012 with a sandwich-happy version of my Three Cool Things I've Eaten Lately diatribes.
New Guacamole Burger
Curse me if you will for voluntarily eating at one of the many franchise fern-bar restaurants in the area, but basically Chili's does some pretty nice work. Consider their new Guacamole Burger. Their burgers are reliably good, always anchored in a half pound of tasty beef in a fresh sesame seed bun.
For this baby, though, they heap on fresh-made and piquant guacamole, Jack cheese, and diced and heat-dripping roasted jalapenos. So far, so good - although fairly typical for a guac burger. But they add a tart and clever cumin-lime sour cream sauce AND a pico de gallo-ish topping of sauteed and shredded red and green bell peppers and onion. It's as though capering spirits of the Southwest are playing Twister on your tongue. Fantastic.
The Devil's Bite
Black Sheep Pub
This is one of those constructs that seems designed specifically to lure one of those Guy Fieri or Adam Richman guys. Not sure if any Food Network honchos will show up, but the Devil's Bite sure intrigued me.
Here's how it works. The Devil, who is presumably in the kitchen, fries up two tasty five-ounce hamburger patties and places one on a slice of rye bread and a melted hunk of Swiss cheese. Next, the Devil applies folded slices of in-house corned beef, then pops the remaining burger on top of that. Add lettuce, tomato and hot mustard and THEN the crowning piece of rye bread - and of course hold it all together with a harpoon-sized toothpick.
There's only one wild card to this sensational idea. This was a fabulous sandwich ... BUT ... I'm one of those folks who prefers their corned beef very lean. On my visit, there was a great deal of fat on the otherwise tasty CB. I get it: some people prefer some fat for flavor purposes.
Fair enough. I simply deconstructed the Bite, trimmed the fat with the acumen of a spinal surgeon, put it all back together - and had a memorable lunch-time extravaganza.
Roast Beef Sandwich
Papa's Pizza & Roast Beef
I don't immediately associate "roast beef" and "pizza" as the two designated specialties at any given restaurant - they seem to be the results of rather different disciplines.
But I'm not going to argue with Papa. I stumbled onto this tiny mom 'n' pop spot on a recent job assignment in Willimantic, and the place appears to have been a favored destination for regulars. As a feverish enthusiast of a basic roast beef sandwich, and because the menu says they've been around since 1968 - meaning Papa has been slow-roasting beef for over 40 years - well, what else would I order?
The lean, flavorful beef, with a nice crusty exterior along one edge of each thick slice, was stacked impressively on my requested rye. I also asked for Swiss, and the sammich comes with lettuce and tomato. Truth told, I could probably have eaten two, and that's a distinct possibility the next time I find myself in W-Town. After all, there are no Arby's or Walt's locations within sight.