I was asked last week to be a guest on The KC Show on Today FM during their broadcast from the 'Taste of Dublin' festival. The premise was simple: Be interviewed on national radio and in front of a live audience at a posh food festival full of internationally renowned chefs about this absolute car crash of a blog and then make a sandwich for one of my hero's, Damien Dempsey.
No Problem. Want me to do it as gaeilge and with a bag of spiders in my pocket as well lads?
After I'd spent a couple of nights trying to settle the nerves by looking after my local publican's next mortgage payment it became apparent that I'd have no choice but to make a sandwich which would be curing the hollow feelings in my belly and soul. I worked off the principal that it had to be utterly distracting, that your mind would have no choice but to be completely taken over by the collection of tastes, flavours and textures, and thus away from that bastard of a hangover. I had to cover all bases but not overdo it at the same time; it may look to the cynical eye that I've just made a mess of a sandwich by firing everything I could think of into it but that is most definitely not the case. Everything here serves a purpose.
I'll get straight to the extensive list of ingredients used to make one of these fella's.
- Soft White Sub Rolls (I used Marks & Spencer ones, how very rich of me)
- Mustard (Colman's English)
- White Cheedar Cheese (Kilmeaden Light Green or Purple block is best)
- Crispy Onion Bits (they come in a tub, your local supermarket should have them)
- Ground Black Pepper
- Ham (Brady's glazed is what I used)
- Sliced Spanish Chorizo
- Italian Salami
- Cheese & Onion Crisps (I used King on this occasion)
The order of assembly is quite important and without going into sandwich nerd mode this is what I think works best.
On top of this put three slices of salami, two slices of chorizo (halved) and three slices of tomato.
On the top half of the roll put about 6 slices of cheese of a thickness of your preference, I aim for a cut of about 1.5 to 2mm, then 2 slices of the Irish ham.
Next up absolutely destroy the tomatoes with pepper. I don't put any salt on them because I'm very health concious but I'm sure a little would be no harm if that's your pleasure. Put a generous amount of rocket on top of the tomatoes.
Cut the scallion into thin slices and put them on top of the ham side along with a liberal sprinkling of the crispy onions, don't be afraid that you're putting on too many as they'll need good numbers to break through the next ingredient: The Coleslaw. Coleslaw is a dangerous substance in a sandwich, it's delicious but it completely overpowers everything around it and since this sandwich has no defining central ingredient that you want to stand out you have to be careful with it. The amount above is the absolute most you should put on, I was on my 4th pint and God only knows how many free shot glasses of wine at the time so I was maybe a little too generous.
Which brings me nicely along to the next and final step in creating this monstrosity. Crisps. I've spoken at length before about crisp sandwiches but allow me to reiterate a few points:
- Go with Cheese & Onion, other flavours just aren't as good in a sandwich, simple as that.
- The brand choice is paramount, Walkers had always been my favourite for this purpose but they've changed the recipe lately and now I'm not so sure so I went for the old reliable King crisp. Don't be tempted to go with fancy artisan brands, they're grand when you're eating them from the bag but their stronger flavour, harder texture and thickness do not suit a sandwich in my opinion.
- Coleslaw and crisps together is the greatest thing since (I am not going to say it), seriously, put some in your next crisp sandwich. Also in a sandwich like this the coleslaw acts as a glue holding the crisps in place, which is convenient.
- Quantity. Don't go overboard, break up a handful of crisps, the amount above is a good guideline.
That's it, close it up and you're done. Just approach the nearest physically intimidating celebrity, hand it to him and stand nervously to one side while he silently chews his first bite all the while giving away no clue as to whether he's going to take a second bite or spit it out...
He took a second bite. Thanks be to Jaysus. He opened his mouth to speak and out came one, short, music to my ears declaration:
"It's a beauty"
...and with that I could consider the day a success. I'd like to say a huge thank you to KC, Ann, Adelle and Lenny for the opportunity to surely be the first person to walk through the gates of Taste of Dublin (or any other food festival for that matter) with a 6 pack of King crisps under their arm, Damien Dempsey who was, as always, a pleasure and an absolute gentleman and to Stephen Connelly and Tim Crowley for taking these photos and bringing me pints respectively.
I'd also like to give a big shout out to Jean-Christophe Novelli who I met after the show and wanted to have a picture taken with me, he's a big fan of my work and someday dreams of making it as a chef. Never give up Jean-Christophe. Never give up.
Here's a bit of Mr. Dempsey to sooth the soul. Thanks for reading, and don't be afraid to give the page an aul like or a follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter