Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Club Sandwich

Today, during our travels we stopped off for lunch at a restaurant called Burton's. This is a chain that is local to Boston. It is basically a restaurant serving American fare, that is modeled after the chain Houston's. We think it is pretty good. In fact, the Burton's near Fenway park hosted my dad's surprise 60th birthday party back in December of 2007. Little known facts about that party: the restaurant ran out of Budweiser because we drank them dry at the party and also, the waitstaff stole half of the nice cake we brought in from Konditormeister, and presumably ate it.

Anyway, back to today. We went to the Derby Street Shops which is a plaza of mall-type stores in an outdoor setting. You might refer to it as a "mixed use property" or a "lifestyle center". Anyway, I continue to digress. Jodi suggested going there and I was tempted with the prospect of eating a burrito at Baja Fresh a Mexican fast food place they have there. But upon arriving we found that Baja Fresh was in the process of being replaced by a Chipotle. We were faced with a decision but as we stumbled upon a Burton's it seemed like a better idea to hop in there as opposed to having to deal with a hungry Matthew, let alone a hungry Jodi.

As usual at lunchtime, I went in thinking salad but once I saw the Club Sandwich I was instantly sold. This particular club had the requisite turkey, bacon, lettuce and tomato, but as an added bonus, it also came with ham. And not any ordinary ham, Cure 51 Ham. Now I don't know what this stuff is, but the last time I had this kind of ham it was on a club sandwich at (where else?)... Houston's. Needless to say it's a great addition to an already solid cast of ingredients.

Which brings me to the main point of my post. What is the deal with the Club Sandwich? We all eat them and we all certainly love them, but where did they actually come from? I usually associate Club Sandwiches with restaurants - and moreover, hotel restaurants. Some notable clubs that I have eaten:

Planet Hollywood: the first time I ate one I was hungover on the last day of Spring Break in Cancun (circa 1995) ; maybe anything would have tasted good; but it left an impression.
The Harbourtown Hotel, St. Michaels, MD: this the hotel we stayed at for my buddy Jon's wedding. This was a great hotel (right on the Chesapeake) with a great Club Sandwich to match. I ate club sandwiches two days in a row and one of the times, my buddy Cal's wife Eileen let me have all her ham; thanks Eileen.
Houstons: their claim to fame is the Honey Mustard - a perfect accompaniment to a club sandwich (try it with their chicken fingers); the best honey mustard for a club will usually be a little more mayo-y than mustardy.

Anyway, I did a little research online. Surprisingly, the Wikipedia entry was pretty sparse but there were some other informative links. According to legend, the first club sandwich was made at a gentlemen's horse betting club in Saratoga NY, sometime around 1894. It has been a staple at hotels and in country clubs and has seen many variations over time. It was said that the club was the favorite sandwich of former King of England Edward VIII and iconic American chef James Beard said of the club sandwich: "it is one of the great sandwiches of all time".

So, just some food for thought. Sorry for the rambling and pointless post. Your reward for putting up with this is some pics of little Matthew who will likely grow up to be a great connoisseur of sandwiches of all kinds.

ps. I did end up eating a Burrito tonight for dinner.

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