It was my intention to celebrate the sandwich when I started this column early last year by finding as many tasty examples as possible. The emphasis was on fringe styles, but also presenting sandwiches that were considered normal 30 years ago that now seem quaint. I have done this weekly, and periodically presented round-ups of the ones I consider best.
Anyone who’s visited Ireland knows that breakfast is often the biggest meal of the day. The meat component alone is impressive: slices of smoky Irish bacon rimmed with fat (in the States we often call it Canadian bacon); blood sausages known as black pudding, crumbly and tasting of the night; white pudding, or thick pork sausages almost like bratwurst; and thinner pork sausages with a mild flavor not unlike what you find here in diners, but minus the sage.
This meat hoard is typically served with a pair of fried eggs, and grilled tomato half, more for color than flavor. Indeed, it often gets left on the plate. Toast is a further important component, to be heaped with egg and sausage, or used to mop the runny yolk, depending on how you like your eggs done. This giant breakfast is often a free part of a night spent in a bed and breakfast, and it makes that sort of an accommodation all the more economical.
The Irish have long had a food and drink presence in New York City, as owners of corner pubs, butcher shops, and bakeries. In Sunnyside, find Butcher Block, an Irish butcher that sells a broad range of specialties but most especially Irish groceries and meat products, many imported. The store is vast, and just strolling the aisles and looking at the products is fascinating to an outsider unfamiliar with Irish goods.
A vast counter offers prepared foods in either sandwich or complete dinner form, the meats running to beef roasted in-house, corned beef, black and white puddings, pot roast, pot pies, and shepherds pies. The sandwiches are a particularly good deal, warm and overstuffed.
Among the crew is the Irish breakfast sandwich ($7.50). It overloads a kaiser roll, a bread more Austrian-Jewish than Irish, with all the components of a traditional Irish breakfast except the tomato. It’s heavy on the sausages, and in fact, the sandwich is so overloaded, nuggets of blood sausage may shoot out the side like dumdum bullets.
Despite problems in eating this thing, the taste is loamy and delicious, with a porky and herbal aftertaste, while the pair of fried eggs were left just a little runny for further lubrication. You’ll walk away from this hefty sandwich with a new respect for the traditional cuisine of the Emerald Isle. 43-46 41st St., between Queens Boulevard and 43rd Avenue, Sunnyside