Tour de Egg Sandwich
Finally it’s here. Well, it’s almost here. Really, it’s planned. But I’m excited about the plan. Naturally, I’m referring to the Winter 2012 FUSSYlittleTOUR, which will from this point on be known as the Tour de Egg Sandwich.
Before going any further, I should acknowledge once again Stanford Steph, who talked me into doing the first tour not too long ago, and Jess, who more recently suggested we sample the region’s egg and cheese sandwiches.
So what are these tours anyway?
Periodically, I lead a group of intrepid eaters around the region to eat and evaluate some of the most beloved foodstuffs of the area. These things both have an inextricable sense of place and would also diminish in transit. So we cannot bring these delicacies to us. We must go to them.
At the end of the day, not only do all the participants have a better understanding of the item in question and the nuances of its component pieces, but they have also decided upon their favorite version. Whereas most people’s favorites stem from childhood memories or geographic proximity, those on the tour form their opinion based on empirical data.
Oh, and it’s a fun excuse to hang out with some fellow food obsessives, meet new people, and eat far too much fast food. If you haven’t been on a tour with me before, you should come. What follows are the details of the inaugural Tour de Egg Sandwich.
Mark your calendar for Saturday, January 28. This is a breakfast sandwich, so accordingly we are going to start early. Some of this is in an attempt to beat the lazy good-for-nothing Saturday morning brunch crowd that gets started late. But there is another reason too. One of the places stops serving at 11a and I don’t want to miss it. So if you aren’t typically an early riser, make sure to get an early night’s sleep on Friday, because the tour starts promptly at 7:30 am.
I know that may be earlier than you typically start your workweek. But this isn’t fun and games. The Tour de Egg Sandwich is serious business. And the first stop will have plenty of coffee for the weary, guaranteed.
Let’s talk business first.
The thing that makes the egg sandwich interesting isn’t so much the classic combination of egg, cheese and bread. No, mostly it has to do with the roll. In upstate New York, we eat hard rolls. Yes, there are other states and regions in the Northeast that do this too, but this bread is still new to me. And I’m very curious to see how they all stack up.
Eggs are important too. Most egg and cheese sandwiches I’ve encountered used either one or two over hard eggs. But eggs aren’t all created equal. Some have crispy edges, others are rubbery. Eggs can be greasy and some are even puck-like. We’ll be noting variations and preferences.
Cheese is going to be a tough one for me, because as much as it pains me to say it, an egg and cheese sandwich really calls for American cheese. I’d prefer white American to the yellow colored stuff myself. But making my mouth form the words, “American cheese, please” will be a Herculean feat. However, it’s important to the unfussy, everyday nature of this simple breakfast sandwich staple. Cheddar might be okay. Jack would be tasty, but it’s too Californian. And Swiss is just wrong.
So here’s the strategy. We are going to walk into each establishment and ask for an Egg and Cheese sandwich on a hard roll, and see what we get.
However, just like in the Tour de Soft Serve, if you want to examine a variation of the original, you are welcome to do so as long as you remain consistent throughout the tour. That means if you want saltpepperketchup or are prepared to order five sausage, egg and cheese sandwiches, please go right ahead. It will be interesting information to tally into the final results.
That said, it’s a lot of egg sandwiches. For the most part they are inexpensive, but they are also quite filling. A tour buddy is a good idea. If you can’t find someone to come along with you and split the sandwich in half, we can pair up at the starting line.
Which brings me to the lineup.
There were a lot of great local places nominated. In the end, we can only evaluate five. Might the best egg sandwich in the region be excluded from this list? Possibly. But what I hope to accomplish with this tour is to simply show the range of specimens available from all kinds of places around the region.
That said, we are starting in a diner. Jack’s Diner, to be precise. I expect at 7:30 am on a Saturday morning, Jack’s will have plenty of room for us to gather and find tour buddies for those who need them. It’s also a pretty central location, and the only place from the original wish list of egg and cheese sandwich joints that Jess provided.
Based on the nominations, this tour feels like it’s McCarroll’s to lose. With five nominations and breakfast sandwiches with their own Facebook page it certainly has the most passionate following of the bunch. I’ve never had one, so I’m curious to see what they bring on Saturday.
That would be Stewart’s Shops. I wonder how many egg and cheese sandwiches Stewart’s sells every day, but they surely do a ton of volume. The chain also is very proud of its eggs (in addition to its dairy). So it may not be as highly processed as it sounds. Regardless, we need a control group, much like the Dunkin’ Donut in the blind donut tasting. We’ll hit the fancy new one on New Scotland at Whitehall, because it fits well with the route.
Surprisingly, nobody nominated Bella Napoli, and I’m including them based on my unlimited executive powers. There were in fact other bakeries nominated, but Nino’s insisted they don’t serve breakfast, Bagels & Bakes in Rotterdam is too far for the tour, and Digregorio’s sounded too risky. Plus have you ever watched people come out of Bella Napoli? They are all buying rolls. Nobody buys their pastries, for good reason. The only trick is they stop serving breakfast at 11 a.m. but that shouldn’t be a problem.
I’m not sure what else to call Famous Lunch. But Famous received enough nominations to make it into consideration. I also thought it might be nice to have a place at the end of the tour where we could nosh on something that wasn’t eggs. You know, like one little hot dog with meat sauce. Just for a change of pace. It will make me feel like I ate lunch, even though I actually ate five breakfasts and a hot dog.
Here’s the map. It’s a nice footprint. It kind of reminds me of a winged boot, wishing us a quick and successful tour.
I’ll provide the score sheets. You bring a pen, an appetite, money to pay for your food (please bring plenty of singles), a printout of the directions, and a sense of adventure. All I ask is that you let me know if you are coming by Thursday, January 26 (so that I have enough score sheets for everyone) and that you show up on time.
It all begins 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 28 at Jack’s Diner in Albany. So who’s with me?