Saturday, August 01, 2009

Prenez la salade olive!

Next time you're in New Orleans, be sure to head over to the Central Grocery for a muffuletta sammich. What's a muffuletta? Well ...

These sandwiches can be found all over New Orleans from delis to pool halls and the corner grocery stores. It is an Sicilian sandwich that consists of a round loaf of bread (about 10 inches across) filled with Italian salami, olive salad, cheese, Italian ham, and freshly minced garlic. They key ingredient is the olive salad which gives the sandwich its special flavor and makes it appealing to the eye. A true Muffuletta Sandwich must always be served at room temperature, never toasted; it is considered blasphemy to heat the sandwich.

Now, I've had muffulettas in several restaurants in New Orleans, and none of 'em stacked up (no pun intended) to the Central Grocery's muffulettas. What makes the Central Grocery's sammiches so good? The quality of the bread, for one, and the quality of the olive salad ... which, after all, is what distinguishes a muffuletta from a kinda-fancy sammich.

I get together with some guys to pick bluegrass music on a weekly basis. One of my fellow pickers is from Louisiana, and he and I talked about muffulettas prior to, well, pickin' a week or two back. He told me that I could purchase a "great" Louisiana-made olive spread -- Gambino's Olive Spread -- at the Nashville Farmer's Market, and I did just that today.

For dinner tonight I made me a ciabatta-roll sammich with hot capicola, salami, sharp provolone cheese, and Gambino's incredible olive spread. I was transported to New Orleans for a moment or two whilst eating it. Yes, Gambino's Olive Spread was that good ...!

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