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Review: Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book

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Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book
By Nancy Silverton, with Teri Gelber
ISBN: 0375412603
Publisher: Knopf
Publication date: Oct. 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
List price: $24.95 (Canada, UK)
Type: Single Subject: Sandwiches
Sample recipe: Monte Cristo Sandwich
intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler coffee-table comprehensive biblical stature
competition: outclassed also-ran midrange strong challenger leads the pack
# of recipes: <50 <100 <200 <300 >300
practical recipes: <20% <40% <60% <80% >80%
# of ingredients: <3 <6 <9 <12 >12
ingredient hunt: 7-11 pantry supermarket online airfare required
recipe complexity: baby steps simple medium intense professional
instructions: inadequate bare bones full figured educational verbose
time conscious: outright lies speed of light fairly quick takes time takes all day
photos/drawings: skimpy adequate generous instructive glorious
recipe results: dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
flavor quotient: disappointing fair good delicious exceptional
layout: ick cluttered clean a pleasure work of art
legibility: microscopic challenging adequate clear brilliant
production quality: cheesy questionable average years of service gift-quality
value: ouch! a little pricey worth splurging on the money excellent
Ease of Use
page numbers: invisible hard to find spotty adequate obvious
table of contents: missing pointless frustrating passable helpful
index quality: none tragic adequate good excellent
page flipping: infuriating tedious acceptable rare never
writer: hack committee cook turned writer writer turned cook celebrity/auteur
cooking heritage: unknown self-taught non-restaurant chef celebrity
overall rating: fair good above average excellent Ochef Top 100
Comments: Prepare to have your sandwich horizons broadened significantly. Nancy Silverton has been holding court over Thursday sandwich nights at her Campanile Restaurant in Los Angeles since her return from a memorable sandwich-eating tour of Italy. Her newest book is an effort to make the variety and virtuosity of sandwich night available to those of us who can't easily commute to LA.

The book breaks into various sections. The open-faced sandwiches — by far the largest section — range from simple garlic bread to Asparagus, Poached Egg, Prosciutto & Fontina Cheese. The Closed-Faced Sandwiches move from Grilled Cheese to Fried Oyster Sandwich, and take in many traditional offerings, including Croque Monsieur and Croque Madam, Monte Cristo, and a Reuben. The Sort-Of Sandwiches include a vegetable tian on bread, Prosciutto & Black Pepper Biscuit, a mozzarella shish kebab, fondues, and other surprises.

There are a few Tea Sandwiches, as well as "Sandwich Cakes and Cookies" — a recognition that sandwich night certainly needs a sweet finish. Recipes include a Carrot Cake Club Sandwich, Lemon Hats, and absolutely stunning Chocolate Caramel Fancy Sandwich Cookies.

Recognizing that most great sandwiches start with great bread, Silverton, one of the most well-respected bakers in the country, includes a few basic bread recipes. There are also recipes for condiments, sauces, and "bar snacks," as these are indispensable to the creation of these flavorful sandwiches.

Silverton would like you to have a panini maker available for efficiently grilling the two sides of your sandwiches, but provides alternatives for those not yet willing to make that kind of sandwich commitment.

At her restaurant, Silverton says sandwich night quickly evolved into a weekly public gathering, blending conversation, good drink, and great seasonal sandwiches. Finally, she says, sandwiches had a starring role in a fine-dining restaurant, and suggests you not look at these as complicated sandwiches, but as "satisfying entrées on bread." With this book in hand, you can create your own memorable sandwich nights, but you'll have to come up with the conversation and drink on your own.

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