Friday, September 29, 2006

San Fran Sandwich

You're probably going to think I'm crazy, but that's just because you haven't tried it yet. I've been told that this sort of thing is very popular in San Francisco, but having not been there myself, I'm afraid I couldn't tell you first-hand. I'm probably just as bad as those people that think that everyone in Utah is Mormon. Sorry about that, San Franciscans. Stereotypes are ugly.

I heard about this years ago when I ordered the San Fran Melt sandwich at Village Inn. Or maybe it was Dees. Do they have either of those outside of Utah? Probably. I'm not sure. Anyway, their sandwich was made with sourdough bread, turkey, ham, maybe even bacon, and one or two types of melted cheeses. It wasn't the first time I'd ordered it, but it was the first time the waitress brought me little packets of jelly with it. I wondered out loud to the person with me why they would bring jelly with a melty sandwich. They informed me, very matter of factly, that that was how they did things in San Francisco. I was to just spread the jelly of my choice on top of the sandwich and enjoy.

Odd though it sounded, I decided to try it out. It was amazing! Suddenly I had not a battle of flavors, but a medly of sweet and savory that played delightfully well on my tongue. From then on, whenever I ordered that sandwich, I made sure the waitress brought me my requisite jelly.

I haven't ordered that sandwich in years. I'm not sure it's even on the menu there anymore. But that doesn't mean I've lost my taste for it. I have since seen something called a Monte Cristo sandwich, which is similar to the San Fran Melt, except that it is dipped in an egg mixture and pan-fried like French toast. When finished, it is sprinkled with powdered sugar. I've been told that jelly is often applied to the top of the Monte Cristo.

It was time to leave my mark on the world of melty sandwiches. I started with a non-stick skillet on medium heat, with a little melted butter in it. I took a couple of slices of sourdough bread, added a couple of slices of turkey and a couple of slices of ham. I grew up on lunchmeat, and I still like it, so that's what I used. Feel free to use what you will. I topped the meat with sharp cheddar, closed the sandwich with the other slice of bread and put it in the pan. The melted butter in the pan found its way into the bread and browned nicely. When I flipped the sandwich, I made sure to add another pat of butter so that the other side didn't feel left out.

With the bread browned and the cheese melted, I pulled the sandwich out and turned it upside down on a plate. Since there was no cheese between the meat and the bottom slice of bread, the bottom slice of bread was easy to remove and spread with strawberry preserves. I added a couple of slices of Romaine lettuce on top of the preserves and closed the sandwich back up again. I dispensed with the powdered sugar on top, but it would have been a nice touch.

How was it? In a word: awesome. That's right, this was a sandwich that, to me, inspired awe and wonder. It was really good. It was hot and melty, but had that little bit of sweet from the preserves and a nice fresh crunch of cool lettuce and toasty bread. Keep in mind, this is the sort of thing that really needs to be served hot and fresh, and really can't be stored and reheated. That's okay, because I don't think it'll last long enough to have time to even cool down.

San Franciscans, I don't know if this is your thing or not, but I'm going to thank you anyway, just because it does include sourdough bread and you're all sorts of famous for that.


  1. As soon as I started reading the post, I knew you'd be talking or learning about the Monte Cristo. However, the experiences I've had with them differ slightly. Instead of pan fried, it's a batter dipped, deep-fried sandwich, with jelly. And yes, very very good.

  2. Mmm... Monte Cristo. I guess there are as many versions of it as there are people who make them, since the ones I've had have been a bit different still. Anyway, raspberry preserves go great on a turkey sandwich with melty cheese, as does cranberry sauce, of course.

  3. Wouldn't it be similar to the wraps in Boston with turkey and cranberry sauce? Mmmm...

  4. Well, there are a lot worse ways you could stereotype San Fransiscans than what kinds if sandwiches they eat.

  5. Monte Cristo is delicious. Ham, Swiss or Provolone. I don't normally go for the powdered sugar just because I don't like the mess.


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