17 (Fri) February 2012
Sourdough Sandwich à l’Intermezzo
-Oksu, Seongdong, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
When I was an undergrad at Berkeley, my perspective on the sandwich was transformed by an experience at Café Intermezzo, a local landmark. Until that moment, I’d mostly regarded sandwiches as convenience items at home comprising whatever bread and meat and cheese happened to be on hand, maybe lettuce, along with a swipe of mayo. But then I tasted a sandwich at Intermezzo that included turkey breast, Swiss cheese, avocado, sprouts, and mayo and dijon mustard, on their signature honey-wheat bread. Try as I might, I can’t recall or imagine how such a sandwich had fallen into my hands, as the combination of components would’ve been so alien and unappealing to me at the time. I’m wondering if perhaps I’d just sampled someone else’s order, though even that action would’ve been wildly out of character. In any event, a single bite made me realize that sandwiches could be extraordinary, even mind-blowing upon the synthesis/synergy of seemingly incongruent ingredients.
I tried to recreate that sandwich here but failed in every respect. The turkey, not enough. The edam, too strong. T he avocado, not quite ripe. The sprouts, which I’d chosen for the color, too bitter. The bread, Fog City International Café’s otherwise outstanding sourdough, which I pan-grilled in butter, too greasy and crunchy for what is essentially supposed to be a light and airy sandwich. Oh well.
Much to my utter shock, in doing some background research, I discovered that Café Intermezzo burned down last November (see The Daily Californian’s article “Raleigh’s, Cafe Intermezzo destroyed by fire“). Reports don’t say whether the owners plan to rebuild. Oh well.
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