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Summer of Sandwiches

Parma Classic from Figs & Pigs

We hereby declare this the summer of sandwiches! There’s nothing like a hearty treat tucked between two slices of fresh bread. Everything is better in sandwich form.

Anh Thu Restaurant II took us by surprise with their house Banh Mi. Each French Bread Roll is lightly toasted to order. The eatery’s emphasis on bread does not go unnoticed. House pickled carrots, thin slices of jalapeno, and crisp daikon radishes prove that the Banh Mi is one of the rare instances where vegetable accouterments can effectively steal the show. Anh Thu’s juice and boba bar is also worth mentioning.

Mama Roux, the latest addition to the local food truck scene, has already built a cult following around its Szechuan Hot Chicken Sandwich. Owner, Jonathan Demoga, insists on using Regal Crown Pickles, an artisan pickle producer based in Worcester. The sandwich is made with buttermilk fried free-range organic chicken thighs, doused with Szechuan spiced chili oil and served on a Martin’s potato roll.

The Regatta Deli has been serving up their “Famous Italian Grinder” since way back when Jordan Levy was the Mayor, and the best part is that the sandwich is still only $5. The Italian Grinder is served on a half loaf of Italian bread with Genoa Salami, Imported Ham, Provolone Cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and housemade dressing. Like any other sandwich, the order of assembly is important and Regatta has it down to a formula.

Figs and Pigs’ take on the classic Croque Madame is the Figs Madame, made with ham, dijon, gruyere cheese, and a fried egg. All of Chef Candy Murphy’s sandwiches are served on Nashoba Brook Bakery’s Slow Rise Breads, an outfit who operates under the belief that “anything worth having is worth waiting for.” Each hand-formed loaf is made with wild yeast captured using Concord Grapes on the banks of Nashoba Brook.

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Seven Local Chefs Join Sweet’s Alina Eisenhauer for Her Crowdfunded Cookbook Project

Alina Eisenhauer from Sweet on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, MA

Alina Eisenhauer has enlisted seven Worcester and local area chefs to provide exclusive stories and recipes for her Cooking from Memory cookbook, which she is funding herself through Kickstarter. (Crowdfunded means the book’s creation is entirely dependent on the support of the crowd – meaning us – through March 24: For a pledge of $30, you get a full-color hardcover book delivered by the end of the year.)

Peter Eco (Fay Club), Jared Foreman (deadhorse hill), Candy Murphy (Figs and Pigs), Jay Powell (Twisted Fork), Christopher Rovezzi (Rovezzi’s Ristorante), Mark DeNittis, and Tim Russo (Lock 50) have all agreed to share memories of favorite dishes growing up and provide or create recipes with Alina for the book.

“I felt this was a great way to connect our memories of food to what is happening around Worcester,” says Eisenhauer. “There are so many wonderful chefs and restaurants who are connected to and connecting this city today. I wanted to celebrate that and work with a few of them to make this cookbook even more fun and capture more of our city’s food spirit.”

Chris Rovezzis Cooking
Chris Rovezzi, in the kitchen, will share memories for Eisenhauer Cookbook

In fact, Eisenhauer notes, the memory and recipe that inspired the whole book came from a conversation she had with Rovezzi long before she moved to Worcester and opened Sweet.

“He told me chocolate cream pie was his favorite dessert as a kid, because it was the first thing his dad taught him how to cook. But he hadn’t eaten it since then because he was afraid it wouldn’t taste the same. I knew right then I had to make Chris a pie, and that’s the memory that stayed with me and inspired the book.”

What will the other chefs choose? That’s up to them, says Eisenhauer. The most important thing is that the dish connects to a memory of food that is important to them – something they ate growing up or something someone they loved made. The actual recipe in the book might be that recipe from their families, an elevated version of the dish they cook for customers today, or something inspired by the memory that Eisenhauer creates with them. She and her team will also work with the chefs to capture the memories and recipe in words and pictures.

Chef Tim Russo from Lock 50 on Water Street in Worcester, MA
Chef Tim Russo from Lock 50 on Water Street in Worcester, MAChef Tim Russo from Lock 50 on Water Street in Worcester, MA (Alex Belisle for Mass Foodies)

“But no matter what,” adds Eisenhauer. “The recipe will be exclusive to Cooking from Memory – something you won’t find anywhere else when the book is published.”

That is IF the book is published. As reported previously by Mass Foodies, Eisenhauer is taking a non-traditional route to produce a cookbook that will rival the content and quality of any book she could have produced with a traditional publisher.

But that work – mostly the printing of 5,000 books – is expensive. Kickstarter allows her to try and raise the money herself by asking her thousands of customers, connections, and friends (many of whom have asked her when she would write a cookbook and how they would “totally buy it”) to simply purchase one in advance to make it happen.

Cooking From Memory, Chef Alina Eisenhauer's new book going on Kickstarter.
Cooking From Memory, Chef Alina Eisenhauer’s new book going on Kickstarter.

“I don’t think many people realize that if there is no funding there will be no book – there will be nothing to buy later!” adds Eisenhauer. “Kickstarter is all or nothing. If we don’t get the funding we ask for, we don’t get ANY of the money we raise to do this. There is no risk to anyone who pledges either. If we fund, they get a book at below the cover price including shipping or one of the other rewards they pledge to buy. If we don’t, they are charged nothing. I promise it will be worth your advance support.”

The Cooking from Memory project ends on Kickstarter on March 24. The book also gives back: for every book sold Eisenhauer will donate at least $1 to her favorite charity: Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.