Blog: Serious Eats' All Star Sandwich Festival
Even though temperatures were soaring for most of the weekend, hundreds of hungry New Yorkers braved the conditions for the short ferry ride out to Governor’s Island for the Serious Eats’ All Star Sandwich Festival. It was a Woodstock weekend of sorts, with Whole Foods’ Meatopia 2011 and a Hot Dog Cookoff taking place later in the scorching day. But Serious Eats cleverly planned their exciting event in the afternoon, from 12 – 4pm, giving us a reason to get out in the sun for the day, and revel in some (pardon the pun) serious eats.
The walk from the ferry stop to the open field called “Colonel’s Row” where the vendors would be lined up was a short one. Upon entering, guests were welcomed with a plastic cup for imbibing some of the many canned and bottled beers on hand, and a white Serious Eats frisbee, which would serve as a plate for the afternoon of food tastings. It should be said that the event was run with precision, from staff walking around the grounds handing out bottles of water and using a spray mist bottle to cool down eaters, to the incredible lack of food lines to ample shade and seating areas provided. It became imminently clear right away that the Serious Eats staff were well prepared and well organized to pull off an event of this caliber.
Prior to the event, there had been a reported six restaurants participating in the afternoon’s festivities, but to our surprise (and delight), that number jumped to an even ten. Evidently we weren’t the only ones impressed as we spotted people grabbing the sandwiches, wrapping them, and packing them up to take home in their coolers, which was absolutely as unbelievable as it sounds.
The standout restaurants should be of no surprise. Torrisi Italian Specialties was clearly the best of the bunch with their “turkey hero.” While the concept of a turkey sandwich sounds elementary, between the loaf of fresh bread was stuffed with radish, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, and a spicy almost puree spread made up of pepper, onion, and olive oil. There was considerable buzz on the ferry ride over that this sandwich alone was worth going out of the way for, and boy were they right. A close second to Torrisi was Tribeca’s Locanda Verde whose “lamb meatball sliders,” just above bite-sized, salty meat sandwiches, doused in a sweet red sauce. The delicious sauce enhanced the flavor of the lamb meat and the samples were small enough to return for repeat trips to the stand. Rounding out the Top 3 was ‘Wichcraft, who served up a vegetarian option, as well as the far better “grilled pork belly” sandwich. Served with a smoky cole slaw and a dab of dijon mustard, the fatty pork melted with each bite of the artisanal bread.
We’ve listed the full list of contributors below, but other notables included a delicious “ham and cheese” from Gramercy Tavern, “The Elvis” from Peanut Butter & Co. (grilled peanut butter, banana, honey, and bacon), and J. Kenji Lopez-Alt with an “animal style slider,” described as a mixture of In & Out Burger and White Mana/Shake Shack style. Although it was hotter than hot outside, Serious Eats managed to put together a fluidly run event that was of tremendous value for the amount of food and drink damage that could be done in a four hour block. And it was a great excuse to jump on a ferry and head to Governor’s Island, one of the more picturesque and under-utilized summer sights in all of Manhattan.
1. Salumeria Biellese- Culatello with Grilled Peaches and Mint (prosciutto like sandwich)
2. Gramercy Tavern- Ham and Cheese
3. Torrisi Italian Specialties- Turkey Hero
4. Wichcraft- grilled pork belly w/ smoked cole slaw, and Dijon mustard on artisanal bread; zucchini and ricotta, w/ tomato and olive oil on artisanal bread
5. Locanda Verde- Lamb Meatball Sliders
6. Banh Mi Zon- Classic Banh Mi (mayonnaise, pate, vietnamese ham, terrine, shredded pork floss, cucumber, cilantro, soy sauce, pickled carrots, daikon) & Vegetarian Banh Mi (tofu, mushrooms, peanut sauce, cucumbers, cilantro, soy sauce, pickled carrots)
7. Best Pizza- Meatball sub
8. Taim Mobile- Falafel
9. Peanut Butter & Co.- The Elvis- grilled peanut butter, banana, honey, and bacon
10. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt- The Food Lab’s Animal Style Sliders
11. Big Gay Ice Cream Truck- Bea Arthur- Vanilla, ‘Nillas, Dulce de Leche & Cococore
- Jane Van Arsdale