This post is so obviously the Greek cliché, but I'm gonna talk about the presqu'île, my closest contact to Mediterranean life. The point here, is simplicity. Pair down to a few quality ingredients. Embrace tradition. Minimal effort. Eat. Drink wine (yes, even over lunch). Remind yourself life is good.
But, so omg, I totally don't feel that way at the moment. Life in Toronto can be so manic, and I find myself so unbearably stressed, feeling like I'm always playing catchup. But this sandwich was one of those simple pleasures that reminded me, there is more to life, and sometimes, less is more.
A few years ago, I lived in Lyon, France, on the presqu'île, the part of the city bordered by two rivers, joined at the bottom, hence the name presqu(e) (almost), île (island). It's a fucking beautiful city. Opulent, super bourgeois, white marble architecture, with sculpted bust medallions everywhere, next to the decrepit, or actual ancient roman ruins. Two hills, two rivers, an iconic cathedral overlooking the whole city, and rolling hills on every horizon. I landed, and my life changed. The pace of life completely slowed down. People actually STAND STILL on escalators (which really enraged me at first, until I conceded to myself, I can stand too). There are daily open air markets everywhere. I learned to appreciate scary looking cheeses. No one is in a hurry. Always wine. Always. It's known as the gastronomic capital of France, and for the most part, what's so great about the food, is that it's quality over quantity. The dishes can be expertly engineered, but for the most part, it's simple food, with a few quality ingredients done well. It's fresh food, it's traditional. Did I mention the wine?
Lyon was pretty lolz when it came to wine. There was a bottle every night, sometimes many. No one ever showed up anywhere empty handed. From March to November, the river banks are populated by people of all sorts, sprawled over picnic blankets, drinking wine. Nights where wine vendors had people flooding the streets, shoulder to shoulder, exploding with joviality. Late nights fuelled by "just one more bottle."
It was such a perfect life. Everything was simple, and people lived for the apéro. A concept still fuzzy to translate, but basically, at the end of the day (5pm and onward), you get together with friends, drink wine, and eat. And all the food was simple. Sometimes consisting of just cheeses and cured sausage. Sometimes something as elaborate as tartes. The french consider tartes to be a savoury dish, usually egg, or cream, spread over a crust, with chunks of vegetables and herbs, and cheeses on top. Even the least adept among them can show up at your door with a bottle of wine, and a lovingly baked tarte, which is divine in its simplicity. It occurred to me after a while, none of my french friends actually knew the first thing about cooking, but it really didn't matter. A meal can be two things and no imagination, so long as they were good. This sandwich post is an homage to a simpler life, and what was a really revolutionary time in my concept of food. Also, I finally got over how gross olives are! Yay maturity.
The simple things:
bread (Queen St Gluten Free Bakery white bean and millet seed)
raw creamed wildflower honey
fresh ground pepper
So I mixed the balsamic and the honey together into a viscose dressing consistency, and spread over the bread. Creamed honey works well for this. The combination offers the sandwich a pique, and the recovery of sweet.
I opted to chunk the tomatoes rather than slicing them, to create pockets for the feta to sit. And thicker tomato means more of it stays raw when you grill the sandwich.
Pitted and sliced olive. I'm totally new to olives, but the green ones just don't seem appetizing. Maybe I'll learn.
Break up the feta to distribute as much as possible.
Add the oregano, salt, and pepper. Oregano is my new obsession. I never want to eat tomatoes without it again. For like... the time being.
Pan fry the sandwich. I used coconut oil, as pictured. It spreads at room temperature better than olive oil, which would also be a good option.
Voilà. Mon sandwich pas tout à fait Lyonnais, mais quand même.
I'm so glad that I tried this. Do you guys know the utter alchemy that happens between feta and cooked tomatoes? I feel like I'm way late on this one, but wtf, how do they get so sweet? What is going on? This sandwich is 80% ingredients I'm not that wild about, but it's a MUST repeat for me. Wow. I need to try the classics more often. What do you guys think? Join the Facebook page, you can leave me comments on all the links there too, share it with a friend.