Sitting down to write this post, I looked at the photo I had taken of the Roasted Eggplant sandwich at Los Gatos Gourmet, and I wanted to talk about how delicious it was. It looks really, really good. With eggplant, roasted red peppers, basil, mozzarella, and mixed greens tossed with balsamic vinaigrette on ciabatta, it’s a fine construction. Each element is plenty tasty, and they all go well together save one, and that’s where the whole thing comes apart. As much as I’d like to tell you how great this sandwich was, I cannot.
I am certain that whoever provides Los Gatos Gourmet with their bread is a fine baker. And I am sure that Los Gatos Gourmet has only the best intentions in purchasing that bread. It was a fine loaf of bread, artisan bread in the sense where artisan actually means something. A good sized crumb, not too large and not too small, tender flesh, and a crisp, chewy crust. As bread, it excelled. As bread, I have not one cross word to say about it. But as a part of my sandwich, it just wasn’t right. It’s a question of execution. You have roasted eggplant, roasted red peppers, greens tossed in a vinegrette—any sandwich maker worth his salt can look at that list of ingredients and conclude that that bread has to yield. It’s a great set of flavors, but there’s a lot of sliding in there, and too much pressure on the bread will send all those flavors right out of the sandwich. I enjoy sandwiches a great deal, and I’m willing to go to some lengths to enjoy them, but having to stop after every bite, pick pieces of eggplant up and place them back in the sandwich is asking too much. Yet that was exactly my task with each bite of this sandwich. The crust was thick and robust, taking the force of my teeth and sending ingredients straight out the back, over each side, in every direction other than the one I wanted them to go.
It isn’t hard to get this right. You just have to think about what you’re doing before you do it. Sadly, no one at Los Gatos Gourmet thought this sandwich through. I would speculate as to how, or why this came about, but frankly it’s a bit beyond me. I can’t comprehend it! I just wasn’t raised to make this kind of mistake. Be deliberate in your sandwiches, my father told me. Be deliberate.