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Hungry for Lunch? Try the Cuban!

cuban sandwich at fresh by brookshiresI will never forget the first time I had the Cuban sandwich from the 2Go sandwich bar at FRESH. It was a few weeks before the store opened in 2011. The chefs were doing a tasting of the handmade sandwich offerings that would be on the menu.

Normally, I would go for something healthy with whole-grain bread, turkey, lots of vegetables and no mayonnaise. Then, I read the description for the Cuban, and my mouth began to water. House-made pulled pork, thinly sliced ham, Swiss cheese, sweet and sour pickles, spicy mustard and mayo on a Cuban roll.

I was very intrigued and couldn’t wait to take a bite. The bread was warm, grilled lightly and basted with melted butter. Inside, the pulled pork was juicy with a slight hint of smoke, and the ham was sliced thinly and seasoned well. The spicy mustard was spread against the Cuban roll next to the Swiss cheese, so the nutty flavors of the cheese melted into the spicy tang of the mustard. Finally, the thinly sliced pickles balanced out all the flavors and offered the perfect crisp bite. All of this is from the girl who usually says, “hold the pickles!”

This sandwich is a flavor indulgence, and unless you have a big appetite, I suggest sharing with a friend or saving half for tomorrow. (No regrets, you will want to eat it again the next day.) Any way you slice it, this sandwich goes to the top of the list.

FRESH and Festive: The Big Willnowski

As part of our Some Like It Hot festival, we invited five local media celebrities to submit their favorite sandwich recipe for a little spicy competition in our Sizzling Sandwich Showdown.  The only stipulations were that the sandwich had to include some type of pepper and the ingredients in the sandwich could all be found at FRESH.  Other than that, we left it up to the participants to work their magic and develop what would become “the hottest sandwich in town!”

The best part about this competition is that we promised the winner a spot on our sandwich bar menu for 90 days.  Each time their sandwich sells, we will donate $1 of the proceeds to a charity of their choice.

For those of you who came out on August 25th and 26th, you were lucky to experience the magic of the demonstrations and sampling events.  The personalities were larger than life and the fan base loyal.

It was an intense competition but our friend Will Knous, BSCENE Magazine Managing Editor, came out on top.  Named  “The Big Willnowski,” this sandwich is simple yet delicious.  The two kinds of cheese mixed with all the fresh veggies makes it a true winner.  His charity of choice is the Literacy Council of Tyler, an organization that makes a huge impact on our community each and every day.  We are proud of Will and proud to support the Literacy Council.  So come on out and try his amazing creation!

Here is a bit about Will and his winning sandwich!

Will Knous was born in Tyler and raised in East Texas, graduating from Nacogdoches High School in 2001. He attended Texas A&M University and earned a degree in Journalism in 2004. He’s been with BSCENE Magazine since 2005, serving as Managing Editor for the last four years. Will learned both his love of great food and cooking skills from a family ripe with talented cooks, as well as from travels across the US and Europe. When he’s not working, Will enjoys playing sports, reading, film and cooking, of course.

The Big Willnowski

Butter with canola (spreadable)
2 slices oat nut bread
Champagne mustard, to taste
2 slices black forest ham
2 slices provolone cheese
2 slices muenster cheese
Cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
Red bell pepper, thinly sliced
Mild onion, thinly sliced
Tomato thinly sliced
Avocado slices (1 avocado = 3 sandwiches)
Red or green leaf lettuce

Lightly butter one side of 2 pieces of bread and toast in oven on broil (can do in skillet/hot plate). Turn over and toast other side, making sure both sides are toasted so neither side gets soggy later.

Spread mustard on both pieces of bread. Add ham on one side and cheeses on the other.

Bake until cheese is fully melted. Ham will be hot by then too.

Build sandwich on one side with remaining ingredients.

FRESH and Festive: Cheese, Glorious Grilled Cheese

A few years, a funny thing happened to the humble grilled cheese sandwich: It started getting some respect.

It might have started with California chef Nancy Silverton, the founder of the famous La Brea bakery. She began serving gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, on her crusty bread with great artisan cheeses, at her L.A. restaurant Campanile a few years back. People began making pilgrimages for her Thursday night sandwich specials. She ended up writing a whole sandwich cookbook, starring grilled cheese.

Eventually, other chefs began elevating the grilled cheese onto their menus too. There are now entire restaurants devoted to grilled cheese sammies in Cleveland, Portland, Austin and beyond, serving up sandwiches stuffed not just with gourmet cheeses but with add-ons like chorizo, portabello mushrooms, chipotles and sun-dried tomato pesto. A grilled-cheese concept is even one of the favorites to win America’s Next Great Restaurant, a new reality show hosted by Bobby Flay.

So what better time to celebrate the grilled cheese sandwich than during April, National Grilled Cheese Month?

The ultimate comfort food, and a mealtime staple for the 10-and-under set, the modern grilled cheese actually evolved from the French croque monsieur, a griddled ham and cheese sandwich. Though we personally grew up eating the American standard – Kraft singles on Wonder bread, grilled with butter in a hot pan – we’re much more interested these days in more adult versions.

For instance, have you tried the Grown-up Grilled Cheese at our 2Go sandwich bar? It’s a panini with sharp white cheddar, sliced brie and charred tomato cream, stuffed inside our crusty Tuscan bread. If you prefer to make your own, just about any of our artisanal breads, with their crusty exterior and tender interior, would grill up beautifully.

Get some ideas Tuesday – the official National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day ­ ­ – when our Freshologists will be celebrating at the FRESH Taste Kitchen by whipping up some of their own personal favorites.

FRESH In: Global Flavor

The banh mi has always been a mashup of a sandwich. A popular street food in Vietnam, where they were created, the banh mi is a sandwich that usually features pork. But, dating to the French colonial period, the sandwich mixes French ingredients (crusty baguettes, mayonnaise, pate) with Vietnamese flavors (cilantro, pickled carrots, fish sauce.)

From Vietnam, the dish traveled. You can now get a good banh mi in any American city with a sizeable Vietnamese community, and many non-Asian restaurants and hipster food trucks have begun serving them too. If you’ve ever had a good one, you know why. Simply, they’re delicious, with big, bright, clean flavors, and plenty of crunch from the fresh vegetables and fresh-baked bread.

So of course, we at FRESH had to create our own, too. And ours gives a special nod to Texas. We start with our house-made crusty baguette, then stuff it with our own pulled pork, cilantro-soy-infused mayonnaise, pickled carrots and cucumber. For one last kick, we add fresh jalapeno slices.

We call it the East Meets West sandwich. Get it at our 2Go Sandwich and Taco Bar.

FRESH and Festive: Celebrations

Everybody “goes green” for St. Patrick’s Day. But at FRESH, we like to go green every day.

We’re speaking environmentally, of course. And when we say green, we start with the little things.

Like those cool lime-green shirts you see our staff sporting.  The polyester they are made from is 100% recycled.

And like our to-go food containers. Everything we use is recyclable, and many, like our drink cups and our 2Go sandwich containers, can even be composted. Our biodegradable cutlery is actually made of plant starch.

But we think green on the big things too. Like our giant Orca Green composting system. Every bit of food waste from our operations – vegetable peels, meat trimmings, even bone! – can be fed into this monster. The Orca Green turns it all into a liquid that can be safely absorbed by the wastewater treatment system, drastically reducing the amount of trash we send to the landfill.

We worked the green theme from the beginning, through planning and construction. More than 95% of our construction waste was recycled, and we re-used and re-purposed wherever we could. In our floral department, for instance, look closely at the warm, weathered brick accents. Those bricks came from an original downtown Brookshire’s grocery – proving that environmental stewardship and careful conservation is just part of our heritage.