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A croque madame, chili crab buns and the sandwiches that changed my life

A croque madame, chili crab buns and the sandwiches that changed my life

  • “I’m not necessarily a sandwich person. I don’t seek them out, but there are just some sandwiches that find you.”
Two fried mantou buns stuffed with chili crab, cilantro, and cucumber from Your Local

Before anything else, I’d like to preface this by saying I am not a sandwich person and I am allergic to chicken—so no chicken sandwiches here. I like burgers just fine, but sandwiches were never on my list of priorities when I went out to eat. The thing is though, amazing food experiences have a way of making its way to you. 

In my experience, I never looked for the perfect sandwich—but when I needed it the most, the perfect sandwich found me. They offered comfort I could literally taste at some of the most pivotal points in my life. 

Here are just a few sandwiches that caught me off guard and changed my life for the better. 

A random Florida French bakery’s croque madame

I was knocked out from an antihistamine induced nap on vacation when I found this croque madame on the bedside table. I opened it up, took a heavily-filtered picture for Instagram (of course) then chowed down. 

All the croque madames I’ve had in the past completely disappeared from memory after the first bite. Even though it was wrapped in foil, the sourdough still maintained its integrity. The sandwich was perfectly toasted on the outside. It was generously filled with the usual croque madame accouterments like ham, gruyere and the richest, most flavorful hollandaise sauce I’ve ever had in my entire life. All topped off with a seasoned, runny egg. 

It’s exactly like how you’d imagine the perfect croque madame to taste like. Buttery, packed with flavor and didn’t fall apart or grease up your fingers too bad after the first bite. 

This sandwich is (very sadly) my “the one that got away.”

Borough’s grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup

Grilled cheese sandwiches are the pinnacle of comfort food—and no one does it like Borough. I went to university near Podium, where the original branch was located, and my upperclassmen friends would never shut up about it. So as a broke college student does, I saved up for a nice night out with friends just to see what all the fuss was about. 

It wasn’t love at first sight. It was love at first smell. The grilled cheese’s scent wafted in my direction and I just knew that this was good news. The second the server set the wooden board down on my plate it was game over. I saw the crisp golden brown exterior served with a bowl of tomato soup and a dollop of cream. 

People don’t just eat with their mouths, they eat with their noses and eyes, too. 

A blend of cheddar and mozzarella cheeses were piled in between two slices of light brioche bread. The cheese pulls perfectly when you bite into it. The sandwich itself was a ooey, gooey, cheesy, buttery feast that gave me a “Ratatouille” food symphony moment. It got even better when I dipped it into the tomato soup. The tang of the soup was the perfect complement to the richness of the sandwich and elevated one another—like a healthy relationship. 

I haven’t had Borough’s grilled cheese in a while, but I miss it a lot. 

Your Local’s chili crab buns

I remember the first time I tried Your Local’s chili crab buns perfectly. It was the early days of working from home and I hadn’t eaten a real meal in maybe three days. On this particularly rough afternoon, my roommate wordlessly dropped a paper box on to my nightstand and said, “Eat this or you might die.” 

I ignored it for the better part of two hours before I caved. By the time I had opened it up, the golden fried mantou buns were no longer warm. “But hey, food is food,” I thought to myself. I took a bite and my eyes went wide. 

This sandwich had crab you could actually taste in it. None of that imitation crab meat shit. The portions were generous, filling and spicy enough to encourage another bite. My favorite thing about it is that the spice level makes sense. It’s not just spicy for spicy’s sake. 

The cucumber slices added the right amount of crunch and acidity to the buns, which brought the whole flavor trip full circle. 

Some of you may be thinking “Maybe you were just hungry?” Well, I thought so too. So I ordered it again when I wasn’t deathly stressed and ravenous. Then I ordered it again just to make sure. Then I ordered it again and again and again—most recently this week. 

Safe to say, it’s just that good. © 2020. Hinge Inquirer Publications, Inc.