What’s in a Sandwich?

Thinking back to all of my first days of school conjures up memories of old friends, new teachers, crisp school supplies and most importantly, lunch! Hearing that lunch bell reverberate throughout the hallways was a beacon of hope that chow time was near and another boring lecture was behind me. My brown paper bag childhood was filled with traditional American sandwich staples. Turkey and American cheese. Jif peanut butter and grape jelly. Ham and mayo on white bread. Plain ol’ yellow American cheese on a roll. The occasional peanut butter and marshmallow fluff, if my mom had decided that I hadn’t yet reached my daily sugar quota. Olive loaf (processed meatloaf with sliced pimentos) phase aside, these sandwiches still remain near and dear to my heart. I wanted to mark my first week of Culinary Arts studies at the French Culinary Institute with a much more sophisticated sandwich given my newly acquired French palate (I still have quite a ways to go) from the No. 7 Sub Shop. Located at the Ace Hotel on 29th Street and Broadway, No. 7’s funky sandwich creations have garnered praise from the Village Voice, the New York Times’ “Diner’s Journal” and have been featured in Endless Simmer’s “Top 10 New Sandwiches” list. Chef and co-owner Tyler Kord’s sandwich philosophy is truly top notch. He showcases his technical ability to playfully balance the textures of the bread, vegetables, proteins, toppings and sauces within the sandwiches.

Truth be told, I’ve become accustomed to celebrity sightings having lived in New York City for a few years. Needless to say, I was caught off guard when I walked right past Top Chef judge, Craft Restaurants owner and fellow Italian-American, Tom Colicchio! I took our chance encounter as a sign that I needed to order the only Italian sandwich on the menu at No. 7 Sub Shop – Zucchini Parm.  I’ve had many variations on “parmesan” in my life but this sandwich definitely pushed the boundaries on your classic breadcrumb-and-fry method. The sandwich arrived on a fresh sub roll with layers of fried zucchini ovals, melted fontina cheese and caramelized onions. Things got a little crazy when I saw the pickled jalapeños and barbeque potato chips on top. All of the sandwich elements definitely played off of one another- the soft zucchini, the creamy melted cheese, sweet onions and spicy peppers, finished off by the smoky crunch of the barbeque potato chips. The pickled jalapeños were a little intense for me and I’m sad to say that I took them off the sandwich. That being said, I would definitely venture back to No. 7 Sub Shop. I’m not sure if I would order the Zucchini Parm again, but I already have my eye on the General Tso’s Tofu and the Pulled Pork! If you happen to wander into the Ace Hotel’s Breslin Bar & Dining Room next door, they make an incredibly juicy lamb burger that is a must-try. At the Breslin, lamb is definitely the new beef!