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Cilantro burger at Fred's Place in Sausalito

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Day two in the bay area, and ticking off the tourist points quickly. North beach, fisherman’s wharf, Coit Tower, that winding Lombard road, biking across Golden Gate, lunch and coffee in Sausalito, pictures from the Presidio bluffs, more coffee and hills and sea lions and chinese food and even some ice cream.

Is it always this sunny here?

Pastrami from Viking Sub Shop in San Francisco

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All these hills require the fuel of a simple classic. And look, it’s Alcatraz.

Canadian Tuxedo at Austin Daily Press

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What’s in a name? I have no idea here. Isn’t a Canadian Tuxedo when you wear full denim? This sandwich is chicken. Touch of maple. Some pickles and aioli. I guess the maple makes it Canadian. What makes it formal attire? Am I missing the obvious? Why do you torture me, proper nouns of sandwich?

Homemade Ginger Triple Sec - High Proof

This isn’t a sandwich. Whatever. Life isn’t always sunshine and sandwiches. The darkness of limited human mortality manifests in a thick hard reality, cold and creeping up your spine to fill the back of your skull with the slow recognition that, yes, there will be no sandwich. Not tonight. There’s no bread here. And you can’t drive. Shouldn’t drive. Because you’ve had too many margaritas.

Not just any margaritas, mind you. The best margaritas. Why? Because they’re made with triple sec that wasn’t designed for 12 year olds. Real triple sec. Painful triple sec. Tearful. Like life. Like loneliness. Like a night without a sandwich.

The ingredients to this 100 proof triple sec are as follows. And for godsake, this isn’t science. This is your life. Adapt as needed.

- Half a bottle (about 2 cups) of pure grain 190-proof alcohol. I understand some states do not permit the sale of pure grain alcohol. Move from these states.
- A big root of raw, fresh ginger. Big, like some malformed club foot, twisted and grotesque. As big as you would imagine the hand of one of your childhood nightmare creations.
- One jar/bottle of mandarin oranges. This one was 23 ounces.
- Half a cup of sugar
- One cup of water

Day before:

1) Gingerclear – Course chop the ginger root with a total lack of regard. Clean it first, maybe, doesn’t matter. The grain alcohol solves all problems. Chop it up and stuff it in a container with the alcohol. Let it sit overnight to mingle.


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Ready for action:

2) Simple Syrup – bring the water to boil Add sugar. Boil for 5 to 10 minutes until good and dissolved.

3) Drain the mandarin oranges. That juice is bad for you. Too many carbs.

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4) Combine the oranges and gingerbooze into a blender, and puree until you’re satisfied.

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5) Filter this puree through the most elaborate filter system you can invent. Use at least one coffee filter.

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Note: this wasn’t elaborate enough. I had to do more. That puree is nasty stuff.

6) Add the simple syrup to the filtered fluid. This should result in roughly one liter of finished product. I just re-used the grain alcohol bottle.

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And that’s it. One bottle of 95-proof pure flavor awesome sauce. All the sweet orange zest of triple sec, with the glorious bite of ginger.

Now make a margarita to celebrate.

The golden ratio for margaritas is this (and only this):

3 parts tequila (preferably blanco, no more than reposado)
2 parts lemon (hint: a fully juiced lemon is close to one shot)
1 part triple sec

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You can do all the math you want, or just own up and make your drink with 3 shots tequila, 2 lemons, 1 shot triple sec. Shake or stir or muddle or whatever. Salt or not.

It won’t matter in the end. Nothing does.

FAQ:

Q: Why lemons? Aren’t margaritas made with limes?
A: Life doesn’t hand you limes. It hands you lemons.

Q: This tastes like gasoline, what did I do wrong?
A: Use better tequila, add more ice, or add more ginger triple sec. The last seems counter intuitive, but works. Science can’t explain it.

Q: My local farmers market offers organic satsuma oranges (the authentic name of the mandarin orange), grown in a bamboo forest and harvested by Tibetan refugees. Can I use these instead of canned oranges, and at what ratio?
A: You’re dumping them into pure ethanol? Sure. There are no rules here.

Q: How in holy hell did you actually filter this? I’ve spent 45 minutes here, me and the counter are covered in ginger-death, and I’ve only got 3 inches of sauce.
A: Yeap.

 

Cuban Beef at Yellow Jacket Social Club

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In an alley behind a tortilla chip factory, surrounded by dust and graffiti and the smell of burning lard, exists a bar surprisingly popular. And surprisingly good. Painfully busy, strikingly grunge-hipster, terrible service and mediocre beer selection, it offers an assortment of sub-average menu items that seem promising, especially after you’ve had their total gem of a Cuban Beef sandwich. Pork slow-cooked to thick pudding consistency, grilled onions that saw the grill only in brief passing, and a ciabatta you better eat fast before the grease fully consumes it. Don’t let the place fool you into higher expectations; stick with what you know, and it won’t disappoint.

Ararat curry chicken wrap at Thom's Market

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We’re in those rare temperate days in Austin where the weather lacks aggression, hot or cold. Brush off the bike, put air in the tires, and cruise to the Springs. Get the conventional out of your system, tour the mainstays of Austin pop culture before the brazen cynicism of summer overrides and you return to the comfort of cool, dark bars out on the edge.

Second Deadly Sin at Gourmands

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Fried avocado and bacon, perfectly healthy when paired with sprouts.

Newsflash: Donut Breakfast Sandwich at Dunkin Donuts

Freak out, you sandwich pedestrians of socialized media. A donut sandwich!? How extreme! What bold renegades of the sandwich paradigm! A revolution born from the kitchens of extravagance!!

And yet I decry: what shallow excuse for hype! Be as proud as you want, Dunkin Donuts, for your mere re-purposing of the heralded Monte Cristo, a sandwich of far greater historical purview than you dare ever approach.

Veggie grilled cheese at Royal Blue Grocery

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With the right nose you can sit and let adventure come to you, sitting there complacent in the winds and sniffing for just the right opportunity. Seek, find, leap and hold on; you’re out there.

Other times the winds don’t blow and you only sit there. Bored. So then go out and try to intercept a little variety, head on. Beat the brush and scurry up some fresh game. Take a one way trip downtown with no obvious way home, wander and drift and flow in the city twilight. Pour whiskey in your coffee and sift among the tourists, the locals who might as well be, the bums, scoundrels and incoherent fellow vagrants, the young acting old and the old acting young. Marvel at how little you fit in and yet how well you do.

And order a vegetarian sandwich, pay too much for it, sit at the sidewalk cafe and eat it.  Because eventually, after too much time on the sandwich fringe, the mundane can become novel again.

Rinse. Repeat.

The Kevin Butler

Whoa.

“the Kevin Butler sandwich is a bacon double cheeseburger on two deep-fried monte cristo sandwiches.”

http://www.npr.org/blogs/waitwait/2011/02/14/133750392/sandwich-monday-the-kevin-butler