My husband decided to whisk me away to the beach this past Sunday, which in theory sounds like an amazing idea. I’m originally from a small island in Alaska so I love the beach, water and ocean air. However, being from Alaska, I know that the beach can be cold, and as we’ve established, I love to be hot — I wanted to go to the river where I knew I could bake in the sun.
But he promised me the coast would be perfect. Less people, the promise of salt water taffy and maybe a visit to the Rogue Brewery. And, he said tantalizingly, on Saturday the coast had hit record high temperatures, somewhere in the mid-80s.
“Fine,” I said, giving in. “I’ll make some sandwiches.”
* It was a perfect opportunity to make a sandwich that seems to be incredibly trendy right now — the pressed sandwich. I had seen it all over Pinterest and had seen recipes posted on Martha Stewart’s website as well as on numerous blogs. So, basically, I was just dying for a chance to make these:
But back to the story:
So we woke up early and began the drive to Newport. It was already nearing 90 degrees in Portland and I was dying to be out in the sun. And after two and a half hours of driving, I was getting downright itchy to be out of the car and on the beach. The weather was gorgeous the whole way — blue skies and hardly a cloud could be seen.
Until we hit Newport’s city limits.
It was as if we drove into a wall of fog. As we drove by the bay, I gazed sadly out the window.
I looked at my husband and he looked (slightly guiltily) back at me and said, “You said you wanted to cool down.”
“No,” I said, with more than a hint of brattiness. “I said I wanted to be by the water…in the sunshine.”
We parked. After a moment of digging out sweatshirts and long pants from the back of the car, we grabbed our picnic basket and headed to an overlook by the beach.
I have to admit it was beautiful. Not sunny, but still beautiful. The air was thick with the smell of salt water and we could hear the crashing of waves and the screams from a few brave souls who were wading in the ocean.
And we did go to Rogue to get beers. We also sat by the harbor and watched the fog roll in.
Then we walked the Bayfront promenade and bought taffy. My husband bought me a lovely new necklace and some cherries from a little fruit stand.
We watched the sea lions.
The Day of Disappointments became a joke between us. In reality it was a perfect day at the coast — the temperature lingered in the high 60s which was more than comfortable and without the crowds, the town was peaceful.
And I was happy.
How to make a very un-disappointing pressed picnic sandwich:
Shopping List (customize as you wish, almost anything will be good in here!): a loaf of ciabatta (or other hearty crusty bread), sliced salami and pepperoni, roasted red peppers, olives, pesto, fresh mozzarella and zucchini. I diced the zucchini and sautéed it with garlic until it was tender. Then I took the mozzarella and sliced it into rounds, drizzled on some olive oil and hit it with red chili flakes and some sea salt.
Cut the ciabatta in half and tear out most of the bread, leaving mainly crust. I could have taken a little more out of my loaf in hindsight, but no worries, it worked.
Then it’s time for the sandwich assembly, which will take some thought — you want everything to meld together but you don’t want your bread to get soggy. I started with pesto, then layered on salami, mozzarella, zucchini and roasted peppers (the wettest of all the ingredients) and finally pepperoni to seal it all in.
Then the sandwich must go through one more very important step — the pressing!
I wrapped it in foil and weighed it down with a Dutch oven full of cans of soup. After it sat for 2 hours, I carefully unwrapped it and cut it into four sections. It looked wonderful!
And they kept very nicely — I actually made these the night before and the next day they were still fabulous. A tiny patch of sogginess where a rogue roasted pepper soaked in, but besides that, the bread was dry and the flavors had married together. It’s really the perfect picnic sandwich. Trust me, like a day at the beach, it won’t disappoint you!