What's your favorite sandwich? Maybe it’s the simple yet gratifying peanut butter and jelly. Or the classic Philly cheesesteak. I personally look forward to sitting down with a chewy ciabatta roll slathered with pesto aioli and stuffed with thick slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, organic Heirloom tomatoes and crisp romaine lettuce. For Allison Fishman Task, host of Yahoo’s Blue Ribbon Hunter and author of the new cookbook “Cooking Light Lighten Up, America!,” the homemade shrimp burger at Provision Company in Holden Beach, North Carolina is “one of the best burgers she’s ever had” -- she even designed her wedding around the burger.
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Provision’s shrimp burger “is spongy and delicious” and diners can watch shrimp boats cruise by while eating burgers, Fishman Task tells The Daily Ticker’s Lauren Lyster.
According to Provision Company manager Mike Jones, the restaurant staff spends hours hand-peeling locally caught shrimp that are eventually chopped and mixed together with Parmesan cheese and a secret blend of seasonings. What started out as a lunch special quickly became the most popular item on the menu; Jones says the restaurant sells “thousands” of shrimp burgers every month.
Fishman Task has traveled across the nation to sample and judge all types of foods and delicacies as part of her Blue Ribbon Hunter duties. When she was in Iowa earlier this year for the state fair she tasted a pork tenderloin sandwich for the first time. It now ranks as one of her top-rated sandwiches.
“It’s a huge piece of pounded tenderloin cutlet between a hamburger bun,” she says. “The glory of the sandwich is that it’s enormous.”
Fishman Task gives a special shout-out to Smitty’s Tenderloin Shop in Des Moines, Iowa for its rendition of the Midwest staple. Smitty’s owner Greg Smith describes what it takes to make the sandwich: employees first carefully hand-trim 99% of the fat from the pork loin cut. The lean meat is then mechanically tenderized, dipped in a milk-based batter and hand pressed with a crushed-cracker breading. Then the pork tenderloin is deep-fried in 100% soybean oil and served on a bun with ketchup, mustard, onion and a pickle.
The lobster roll and the Philly cheesesteak round out Fishman Task’s list of the best sandwiches in the U.S. She has personally eaten at the famous Pat’s King of Steaks (so have President Obama and VP Biden) and raves about the mayonnaise-infused lobster roll at Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar in Eastham, Mass.
Related: The Top 5 Steakhouses in America
Americans can be very particular about their sandwiches and some, such as the fried green tomato sandwich, are unique to specific parts of the country (in New York City they’re not as good as the ones prepared down South, unfortunately). But one sandwich trend transcends all regional barriers, says Fishman Task.
“I’m blown away by how wraps have taken over,” she notes. “Wraps are ubiquitous.”
And Fishman Task emphasizes that sandwiches are not just restricted to lunchtime hours.
“Who doesn’t love a good meatloaf sandwich for dinner?” she asks rhetorically. “Sandwiches are so popular because you can eat them on the go, they’re quick. Chicken parm in a sandwich. Eggplant parm in a sandwich. Calzone is a pizza folded in half. Everything can be a sandwich.”
Research firm Technomic found that 49% of sandwiches eaten in the U.S. last year were bought at restaurants, up from 44% in 2010. Technomic values the U.S. sandwich industry at $27.7 billion.
What's your favorite sandwich?
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