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Michael Whiteman, co-founder of Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Co., a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based developer of, and consultant to, fine restaurants, says that the sandwich tide will be rising in 2011.
"Last year it was gussied-up hot dogs and hamburgers," he said. In 2011, it’ll be "sandwiches over the moon," according to Whiteman. One moon shot he names is cemitas, Mexican sandwiches with high flavor profiles and ingredients like black bean spread, queso blanco, warm crisp-fried cutlets, lots of mayo, pickled jalapenos, avocado and iceberg lettuce.
"Get a cemita with head cheese, and you’re half-way to banh mi," he goes on. They’re Vietnamese sandwiches which he says are "taking over the world" with their pate and pickled vegetable fillings, and are currently mutating into such combinations as liver pate, head cheese, jalapenos, pickled carrot and daikon shreds, bbq pork, sweet mayo and lots of cilantro in a warm bagette. "There’s an Asianesque meatball version making the rounds, too," Whiteman added.
He also touted baos, which are traditional yeasty steamed buns with savory fillings, but are now being reinterpreted as fluffy flatbreads to wrap around banh mi-like fillings. And tartines have grown from a slice of bread with a simple spread to open-face sandwiches with $15 price tags.
More regional American and ethnic sandwiches will be happening in 2011, according to Whiteman, who says that two-unit #7 Sub Shop has out-the-door lines for its insertions of oddball ingredients into every item: eggplant parm with fontina, yellow squash, pickled jalapenos and barbecue potato chips, or braised lamb with peanut butter, mint jelly and pappadam. Prochetta is a filling to watch, he says.
Traditional Cuban sandwiches started off pretty good, but crashed because Whiteman said they’re "pretty boring." But at Ironsides in San Francisco, he noted, they’re made with pork shoulder brined in orange juice and molasses, along with chipotle, aioli, ham, gruyere and pickles.
Sandwiches have reached the point, he concluded, that several big-time name chefs are toying with the idea of starting their own upscale sandwich shops.