Monday, September 10, 2007

It was almost two months ago I said we were going to start a food feature here. Better late than never, yes? Here's the first entry:

Oral Fixation: Bastard Muffaletta
We recently got cable at home for the first time in years. We pretty much only watch television for a few minutes before going to sleep or on a lazy hung-over Sunday afternoon, like yesterday. Inevitably the channel always lands on the Food Network. This past Sunday on Throwdown, Bobby Flay bastardized the traditional muffaletta sandwich in a way that inspired us enough to get our lazy butts out of bed to go to the grocery store and do the same.

Typically made on a large Sicilian round loaf with fairly standard cold cuts and cheeses, the main feature of muffaletta is a marinated olive spread. Flay broke one of the cardinal rules by making a mayo-based olive spread. We decided to take it one step further by using a French Aoli.

We headed up to Holiday Market in Royal Oak, MI - partly because it's only five minutes from Burnlab HQ and partly because it's a rare grocery that carries both a wide selection of choice gourmet items and basics under one roof. I do romanticize about my days in South Brooklyn, buying pork at Esposito's, olives, spices and specialty items at Sahadi's and coffee and French pastries from Shakespeare's Sister. We're blessed with plenty of superb gourmet shops close to Ferndale and the excellent Eastern Market fifteen minutes down I-75. But when you want a pound of ruby red trout right off the boat, a jar of wasabi mayo, an exotic Belgian beer, plus some dog food, paper towels and Vernors, there is no other one stop shopping.

$76 later (with the intention of making one sandwich, mind you) we're ready to go. For the meats we have an exquisite Capicola, a genuine Geona salami and a very dry Boar's Head salami. For cheese we use an Artisan Machengo complimented with another softer, less salty Spanish cheese I can't remember the name of unfortunately. We prepared the Avalon Italian round by cutting it in half and spreading Danish butter and pesto on it before popping it in the oven to warm up.

Now comes the spread. Again, this is where Bobby Flay offended the taste testers in New Orleans, but there is nothing we love more than fucking up comfort zones. Starting with a generous mixture of Mediterranean olives, we added roasted red peppers, chopped garlic, balsamic marinated capers and the Aoli - which is made of oil, eggs, mustard, garlic, white wine vinegar, salt and lemon juice. This was blended to a near paste and spread out on the hot, crispy bread (now soaked with butter and pesto) and topped with thin sliced red onions and fresh tomatoes generously donated by our neighbors (another big no-no for traditional muffaletta.)

I'm not sure if it counts as muffaletta, but it sure was tasty! The only thing we'd do differently is leave the sauce a bit more chunky. The heavy grocery bill included a pretty awesome bottle of Italian wine, and it turns out this one sandwich will be feeding two of us for about three days. We also have a big bowl of special Burnlab sauce left over. (We are so bad with judging portions when hungry.) Unfortunately we can't provide an exact recipie, because thing like "cups" and "teaspoons" and things like that are too much like math, and math sucks. We're going to try it over some squid ink pasta later in the week, but if anyone local wants some you are seriously more than welcome.

Bon appetit!

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