I’ve eaten a lot of paninis, so many that I like to consider myself a panini connoisseur. On my blog, I share the ones that stand out- this one stood out. I went to Ballaro in New York on an early Sunday afternoon, unaware that they were only serving their brunch menu and not their regular menu, which included a long list of paninis. Fortunately for me, my waitress and I devised a plan where we could create an amazing panini despite their limited Sunday ingredients.
Lo and behold this thoughtfully created panini, a perfect example of why two minds are better than one:
This panini consisted of the basic Italian ingredients: Parmesan, arugula, olive oil, and Bresaola. My waitress, who was from Italy, explained to me how they make Bresaola in her country. It is an air dried beef, that has been aged for two to three months until it becomes this rich purple color (see next picture).
Much to my surprise, this panini was thoughtfully created in yet one more way:
Mid bite, I noticed that the Bresaola had been grilled on the panini separately before grilled with the sandwich (notice the grill marks). Genius!
PANINI TIP: Depending on the type of ingredients, grill the meats and veggies in your sandwich separately before you grill them all together.
Tempeh. Many run from this word, as it is unknown to most. However, I’ve slowly started to notice it’s becoming more and more ‘trendy’. I started to explore this tempeh, what makes it both intimidating and attractive? Fermented whole soybeans with mold, similar to tofu. Tempeh is a meat substitute, it’s firm, dry and chewy and the best part about it is that you can get it smoked- tastes like bacon!! Which is why when I first tried tempeh, it was smoked and I found it delicious. At Candle Cafe, a vegan restaurant in New York, their menu featured many variations of tempeh. I got a smoked temeph sandwich with roasted red pepper, roasted zucchini, arugula, with a tomato spread on whole grain bread.
Ways we can use temeph in panini form: replace your grilled meat with grilled temeph, try it smoked, grill it with some veggies on the panini with a soy sauce, and naturally add it into your next panini :).
*Did you notice the great panini grill marks on the tempeh?
Oh, the joys of going out to eat! I enjoy eating out because it’s a chance to learn something new. Mom and pop joints are my favorite places to learn new techniques. At Soup Spoon Café (located near the capital of Michigan), I got a bonus lesson on, none other than… the panini!! This does not happen often- trust me! In a prior post, I mentioned a panini place that had panini’s on french bread. However, it didn’t have the warm, grilled bread component that makes up a great panini. Soup Spoon transformed their french bread to a “panini appropriate” sandwich. How?? They flipped the bread inside out, genius.
In this picture you can see how the inside of the french bread is now the outer layer, and what is usually considered the outer part of the bread- is now on the inside.
This sandwich consisted of slow roasted pork loin, caramelized onions, pickles and melted Gruyére cheese with their bistro sauce.
Let me know if you try out this new trick!
Healthier than bread and a creative way to make ordinary wraps taste even better is a Panini Wrap!! I have featured recipes on my blog before on how to make a delicious panini wrap, but don’t often see them on menus. So, I was thrilled when I went to this great little deli in Charleston, South Carolina called Dellz Deli; which featured a whole menu of grilled wraps and pitas.
This place has only about 6 barstools… .and that’s it. The line was huge wrapped around the corner and just by the looks of the people in line, it attracted everyone!
Inside was an interactive place where the owner and her son knew their customers by name!
They are known for their “goddess dressing”, which is their secret sauce that they give you to put on your sandwich. And whatever it was, it was amazing! Here is a picture of my grilled wrap with the goddess dressing on the side.
Their menu consists of seasonal items and the freshest ingredients. My wrap had brown rice and an assortment of different kinds of fresh veggies, and with the goddess sauce on the side it was delicious!!!
For my recipe on how to make great wrap panini’s check out this post by clicking on this link >> http://sanipanini.com/2012/11/19/thats-a-wrap/
Here is a picture of my famous panini, “famous” meaning only to the people in my city and school. This is my go-to, always.
It’s a panini on ciabatta with tomatoes, cajun mayo, olive oil, oregano, turkey, crushed red pepper, and Vermont white cheddar cheese. Literally it’s the best thing ever, that was kept secret until now!!!
Here’s an up close shot:
Enjoy my little secret ;),
Have you ever had a fancy panini? When I mean fancy, I mean not knowing what half of the ingredients are. I had the best fancy panini at a very little place in New York City called Salumé. Their panini menu was amazing, it was divided into sections according to the meat. I chose from the Prosciutto Crudo list of panini called Parma Black Label.
Literally, the only ingredients that looked familiar from the Parma Black Label was the young lettuce and the lemon aioli. I had zero clue what Bottarga and St. George Gin were. Bottarga originated in Italy where they would press dried eggs of tuna or grey mullet. It ages anywhere from a couple weeks to a 6 months, and you watch the color change until its a deep orange. It’s also described as ‘pressed caviar’. Eventually I realized that St. George Gin was simply a type of Gin incorporated into the sandwich.
The presentation was beautiful, on a wooden chop block with a Parmesan crisp and some well seasoned vegetables.
Here’s a close up picture so you can see how all the elements were layered:
(Bottarga is the orange part on the very bottom.)
I found my own little oasis inside the ‘desert’ of Detroit, Michigan at a little place called Russell Street Deli. Here people line up around the block, even in the dead of winter, just to wait to be seated. The seating in the Deli is very unique, they have limited seating with only about 8 tables. Each of these tables sit 6 people and they fill up these tables no matter how big or small your party. If you go with a group less than 5, then plan on sitting and interacting with complete strangers! I really loved this concept! They have a great breakfast and lunch menu, and I was drawn to their vegetarian side. I like ordering vegetarian sandwiches because I feel that the sandwiches are the most unique, creative and have the most variety of ingredients. The trick to create that perfect sandwich (restaurant permitting) is to customize, maybe add my own choice of meat to a vegetarian sandwich. When I was there, I ordered a grilled avocado melt. The melt was served on grilled pumpernickel with avocado, tomato, provolone, lettuce, red onion, and my addition of smoked turkey, with a garlic mayo spread- all grilled of course!
Up close shot:
Contrary to common belief, Detroit is a city on the rebound with a recent infusion of great restaurants just like Russell Street Deli. It’s full of life and booming restaurants and shops. Russell Street Deli is located right in the middle of the Detroit Eastern Market, where venders come from all over the state of Michigan to sell their homegrown crops and produce from vegetables to meats, and even seasonal goods such as Christmas trees, holly, etc. There are speciality stores for wines, cheese, seafood, nuts, spices and so much! If you are ever in the area, I would highly suggest stopping by on a Saturday (be sure to get there early)!