Janet Wynne Evans discovers how to pep up your packed lunch for British Sandwich Week.
Not such a gamble after all
A slab of beef between two doorstops was probably no more than essential sustenance between rounds of cribbage for John Montagu, Earl of Sandwich. How his unwitting creation has flourished! Bring on British Sandwich Week, which runs this year from 14th-20th May.
Read more at www.britishsandwichweek.com.
Many of us remain as faithful to the classic combos as we do to our daily tipple. Nothing wrong with that, though it's hard to fathom people who have the same lunchtime butty every day of their working life. No name mentioned, but we do know one packed lunch aficionado for whom the demise of a brand of Cheddar we can't possibly mention in a Wine Society feature (but which came in unfeasibly rectangular blocks with a distinctive red wrapper) was the End of the World. How he is coping with retirement is anybody's guess.
Whether you're a creature of habit, restless gastronome or a bit of both, a lovingly made sarnie and just the right glass alongside can only elevate the Earl's fine idea to gourmet status. Including a slightly wine-tricky ingredient – a touch of chilli, perhaps, or an avocado – adds a bit of edge, in all respects. Here are some kick-starts, and the wines that can handle them.
Marie-Rose of the Raj
Snap up a lazy pack of prawns marinated in chilli oil and fresh coriander, or make your own. Mix with equal quantities of thick yoghurt and mayonnaise, a squeeze of tomato puree to taste and a judicious pinch of your favourite roasted spice mix, or garam masala. Pile onto slices of pumpernickel.
The Wine: A white Cape blend will sort out the spices and cut through the prawn.
A filling station is not just for your car. Mine has a built-in food store that sells spicy 'Mexican' or hickory-smoked barbie chicken. I'm quite shameless about stocking up when treating my elderly Italian stallion to his favourite lead-free Prosecco. Cut into bite-sized pieces and toss in a little sour cream, spiked with Tabasco sauce. Lay in the middle of a tortilla wrap with chopped ripe avocado and shredded little gem or iceberg lettuce. Roll up and roll on summer.
The Wine: For the spices and creamy avocado you'll need a big, generous chardonnay.
The First Rose of Summer
The perfect romantic snack for two on a balmy summer night. Pile very rare roast beef, or bresaola on thinly sliced sourdough bread. Season well and top with rocket tossed in a little truffle oil.
The Wine: There is only one thing for it – a fruity but dry-on-the-finish pink Champagne.
Recipes abound online for the Provençal snack of choice, which has, at its beating heart, anchovies or tuna with chopped olives, tomatoes, plenty of garlic and basil, Mediterranean veg and enough oil to 'bathe' the bread. People have even been known to pack a salade nicoise into one. The trick is to slice the top off your loaf or individual buns, hollow it out, get layering, noting that your artistry, or lack of it, will be on display when the loaf is sliced, revealing its cache of good things. Replace the 'lid', wrap in foil, weight with tins and compress overnight in the fridge. This will make it easier to cut when your picnic party finds a babbling brook worthy of the tartan rug and the wicker hamper.
The Wine: For this riot of flavour, it has to be pink, pink, pink. And preferably Provençal, though it can be any sweetly fruited and serious rosé, ie made from good red grapes. Would we offer any other kind?
Keep an eye out for our rosé offer launching on 22nd May, or browse our beautiful selection of pinks here.
A Bordelais steak sandwich: crusty baguette spread with the merest whisker of Dijon mustard, and slices of char-grilled entrecote or rib-eye steak, caramelised shallots, lots of sea-salt and a tangle of watercress.
The Wine: Young, fruity claret, of course with the punch to stop the cress being too shouty.
Roasted sweet red peppers vegetables, a pinch smoked pimienton and a dollop of hummous, packed into submarine rolls. For extra sustenance, add a thin slice or two of jamón.
The Wine: Young garnacha, served coolish.
The Double Fennella
Use a mandoline to slice a bulb of fennel wafer-thin and soak in lemon juice for an hour or so. Drain well and combine with slices of fennel salami and a few pea shoots in a rectangle of focaccia and cut into slices. The combination of rich pork, crunchy fennel and cushiony bread is divine.
The Wine: Try the herby resonance of The Society's Falanghina though a juicy northern red like Valpolicella would work just as well.
Janet Wynne Evans