On our drive from Vermont to Cape Cod, we kept seeing signs proclaiming “Sandwich.” Of course they made me hungry. I was a little disappointed, however, to discover they referred to a town in Massachusetts, rather than lunch.
Before we embarked upon our New England vacation, my friend, Katia, asked me to document my sandwich consumption on the trip. It had never occurred to me that we eat an inordinate amount of sandwiches in the United States, or that they might be different from those found elsewhere in the world. But after a week in the homeland, I can say: We do! They are!
In France, the mid-day repast varies between long, leisurely and wine-soaked (e.g. a one-way ticket on the Naptime Express), or a packaged salad scarfed secretly and shamefully in the office kitchen. In other words, lunch is either very slow or very fast, with few options in between.
But we do lunch a little differently in the States — a little more relaxed, a little easier, a little simpler. On our recent trip, I was thrilled to rediscover sandwiches big and small (but preferably small), and reclaim them as my one, true, lunchtime love.
At the Shelburne Farms Farm Stand, I gobbled down a petite sandwich filled with turkey, cheddar, mesclun, and a crisp slice of apple, everything raised locally. I also loved a vegetarian version layered with hummus, cheddar, chunks of juicy yellow squash, and crisp shards of fennel, the vegetables all grown steps away from our picnic table, in the market garden.
Of course, Americans eat sandwiches for breakfast, too. (I could never have survived my 20s without the restorative, hangover-kicking bacon, egg, and cheese on a roll.) Though I had my doubts about eating bagels in Vermont (can you blame me?), this seeded specimen turned out to be very fine, properly chewy and doughy, with a hefty, almost crisp, crust. It was particularly enjoyable with a cup of iced decaf and a long perusal of the Sunday New York Times. (You can take the girl out of the Big Apple, but…)
One day in Cape Cod, my in-laws served up a lunch that was most refreshingly un-French — sandwiches from Ferretti’s, a local deli, eaten from the butcher paper wrapping, washed down with a pickle. I spent an hour at the counter trying to decide on my order. The bread options read like poetry (sourdough, rye, marble rye, whole wheat, bulkie roll, soft sub, pumpernickel, wraps in every color of the rainbow…), and the list of sandwiches was as detailed and imaginative as Les Misérables.
I finally decided on the Gobbler: turkey spread with mayonnaise and cranberry sauce, piled high with a scoop of thyme-scented stuffing. Yes, it was a bread sandwich. I loved it, even though I could only finish half.
I couldn’t visit Cape Cod without eating a lobster roll, and the version I found at The Captain’s Table in Chatham, Massachusetts came pretty darn near close to perfect. The lobster meat was tender, sweet, and lightly dressed, the bun soft, mushy, golden and warm from the grill. My only quibble was the price: $16.95 for a lobster roll the size of my palm. I’m still reeling.
Then again, in the end, I was kind of glad my lunch had been so modest, if only because it left room for me to indulge in my true favorite meal of the day: cocktail snacks next to the Bass River.
The Farm Stand in the children’s farmyard has fresh, creative sandwiches, salads, and soups. I wish I’d tried the grilled cheese made with farm cheddar.
1611 Harbor Road
Shelburne, Vermont 05482
802 985 8686
Burlington Bagel Bakery
If you’re staying at the Inn at Shelburne Farms and you don’t feel like a full-service breakfast hullaballoo, this is a great, cheap self-serve option. I especially loved the pumpernickel bagel.
992 Shelburne Road
South Burlington, Vermont 05403
802 864 0236
An array of inventive sandwiches, though they handle changes or substitutions without batting an eyelash.
501 Underpass Road
Brewster, Massachusetts 02631
508 896 8919
The Captain’s Table
In the adorable town of Chatham, this is the Cape Cod seafood shack you’ve always dreamed of — except for the prices.
576 Main Street
Chatham, Massachusetts 02633
508 945 1961