John Montagu, Fourth Earl of Sandwich, was a man of many great accomplishments, most notably inventing the sandwich. Nowadays, sandwiches still gather fame through name.
And some of the most innovative conglomerates on bread are found on the Eastern Shore.
In some ports of call, a vegetarian sandwich might consist of a couple of slices of white bread wrapped around a house salad sprinkled with Thousand Island dressing. Not at Mary Ann’s Deli & Catering.
Get ready for the garden. At this Fairhope deli, The Vegetarian, opposite, is a hot sandwich, loaded with steamed vegetables. You want veggies? Your tongue will trip over fresh steamed red cabbage, carrots, red onions, cucumbers, squash, zucchini and alfalfa sprouts. This litany is dressed with lettuce, tomato and artichoke hearts, gently sprinkled with pesto vinaigrette and lovingly steamed again between fresh slices of French bread.
Bob Coppoletta will say up front that he didn’t invent The Vegetarian. It was already on the menu six years ago when he and his wife bought the deli, now located in The Windmill Market. But, he says he knows the secrets to the sandwich — the layers and steaming technique. His helpers tell him it is their most difficult-to-make sandwich, but each likes to claim, “I do it the best, ” he says. The work ethic scores.
mary ann’s deli & catering
8 a.m. – 4 p.m. M – Sa, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Su. 85 N. Bancroft St., Fairhope.
Jamaica Me Crazy
My first mate and I drop anchor for brunch at Bimini Bob’s, in Daphne. My sweetheart orders pancakes. I select the Booby Cay BBQ sandwich, left.
I make official inquiries of general manager Dwight Hambrick concerning this warm, delicious pork delicacy. He laughs off my hint that the sandwich has a risqué name. He assures me there is such a place as Booby Cay, just off the coast of Jamaica.
The slow-cooked style of pork, known in the U.S. as “Carolina barbecue, ” has Cuban and Central American roots. For three to four hours, the choice meat simmers in tomatoes, cumin, oregano and other spices, including vinegar and bay leaves (in secret proportions, of course). As it tenderizes, chef Steve Zucker prepares his specialty Guava BBQ Sauce. He says it spins off the traditional barbecue formula, with a bit more pepper. Then he introduces a delightful guava puree, which gives the sauce “a different kind of twang.”
The amazingly light-tasting pork is served on a plain Kaiser roll, with pickle slices and sauce on the side. The texture and taste are as bright as the Jamaican sun and as light as a sea breeze. Even the accompanying hand-cut French fries go down light and easy.
11 a.m. – 10 p.m. M – Th, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. F/Sa, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Su.
29249 U.S. Highway 98, Daphne. 621-1357. biminibobs.com
There is a mystery at Will Hughes Catering and Market that the captain wants to solve.
What is a Matoose?
The Matoose is a close friend to The Sandwich, opposite, a Hughes original. The Sandwich has beef tenderloin, caramelized onions, tomatoes, bacon, cheese and chipotle aioli on a Gambino’s muffaletta bun. So, what’s the difference?
The Matoose has greens on it, and it comes in a garlic wrap. And Matoose? Well, that’s Hughes’ friend’s last name. His friend wanted a more portable sandwich. You know – the kind you can eat while you stroll the scenic route.
When chef Wes Shepherd talks about the sandwiches, it’s evident he assembles with pride. He explains the ultimate blend of quality meat, perfect steak seasoning, garlic, Italian vinaigrette, thyme and time.
will hughes catering and market
11 a.m. – 7 p.m. M – F, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sa.
1716 Main St., Daphne. 625-0345.
Pete I Am
The “Italian Style” Green Eggs and Ham Panino is a delicious eye-opener with a big name, but it was coined by a big guy — 6-foot-4 chef Pete Blohme, of Panini Pete’s Café and Bakeshoppe.
So what’s in that name, Pete? “I like to travel, and I eat out a lot, ” he says. “I like to come up with cute, fun new things to try. On one trip, I saw some basil-infused pesto and eggs. Green eggs? I immediately thought, there has to be a green eggs and ham sandwich in there somewhere.”
This sandwich, above, served on grilled sourdough bread, includes vine-ripe tomatoes, melted provolone and grilled Mortadella — a special Italian sausage hailed by author Justin Demetri as the “pride of Bologna.” It definitely lives up to the boasting.
panini pete’s café and bakeshoppe
Breakfast: 8 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. M – Sa; lunch: 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. M – Sa.
42 1/2 S. Section St., Suite 2, Fairhope. 929-0122. paninipetes.com
As luck would have it, the sojourner ties up at Two Sisters Bakery and Deli, where genuine Southern hospitality lights up this small café.
George Lozano and his wife, Liz, came from Birmingham because they fell in love with Fairhope and its people. It shows in how they greet customers. Visiting with George, Liz and their business partner, Tammy Clevenger, is as delightful an experience as eating the food. “We’re not a downtown Fairhope place, ” George says. That’s why the plan is to become the place on Scenic Highway 98. “We want to be a destination.”
A sandwich named Hen Pecked set the course for Two Sisters. “It’s chicken, ” George says with a smile, “but it has some fight in it.” He says a team effort became a real customer favorite. No wonder.
This delicate-looking panini, opposite top, shoves open the double doors of gustatory pleasure with a blast of jalapeño. The reassuring sweetness of mango chutney follows in the pecking order.
The only thing “chicken” about this sandwich is the meat. Spinach, havarti cheese and hot pickled peppers are spread gently over a tender chicken breast, delivered between lightly mayoed slices of focaccia. It’s no shame here to be “henpecked.” It’s a pleasure.
two sisters bakery and deli
7 a.m. – 6 p.m. M – Sa.
19452 Scenic Highway 98, Fairhope. 517-0622.
Music to My Buds
Harry Johnson, owner of Rosie’s Grill in Daphne, says there’s no special story to the sandwich he calls Jazz, opposite bottom. He simply liked the name.
But take this fan’s word for it: this is a jazzy-tasting sandwich. Close your eyes and open your taste buds to Boar’s Head Black Forest ham, tomato and steamed broccoli, covered with melted Cheddar cheese. All of this is nestled on a toasted Kaiser roll. Ranch dressing is on the side — but don’t leave it there. It puts a delightful spin to the broccoli and cheese. This is a real cool bite.
11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Su – Th, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. F – Sa.
1203 U.S. Highway 98. 626-2440. rosiesgrill.com
John I. Sellers