I would’ve thought it was pretty hard to fuck up a toasted sandwich. I mean, come on, it's pretty simple. Some bread, a slice of cheese, a piece of ham.
Maybe some tomato, maybe not?
I've changed my opinion about the need for tomato in a basic toasted sandwich. I don't think it's necessary, and it’s not my preferred build, but I'm not gonna die in a ditch over it.
If you are on the toe, as I was on Saturday, lurking around the Apple Store in Westfield Chermside, it's not a completely terrible option for a light feed.
Unless you get the toasty I got. I'm not gonna name and shame the place. It was just some basic cafe in a shopping mall. I figure they got their own challenges to meet. But making a half-decent ham-n-cheese toasted sammy, was a challenge they comprehensively failed.
Bitching about them is not the point, though. What happened about an hour later is. We were heading back through Albion, a really weird part of town that I don't know particularly well, but Jane does. Her PT has a studio over there. She said there was a decent wine bar near the studio, and we should check it out. A place called Wineism.
I'm like, sure, it's not as though I need an excuse. And I was thinking, I will admit, maybe there might be some nibblies there that could fill the sad, toasty-shaped hole in my existence.
Not only did they have nibblies, but they were free! There was a wine tasting on when we arrived. A visiting French wine guy was entertaining a dozen or so people and the boys from Wineism were taking the edge off the drinks with some nice little prawn rolls. Gratis.
We didn't join the wine tasting, although we did get a free prawn roll and we did end up talking to the French guy and buying one of his chardonnays to put aside for Christmas Day.
We had a glass of it there. Oh, alright then, I had two. And because I was still hungry, not having finished the disastrous ham and cheese toastie, I ordered a baguette with some butter and a small pot of pork rillette. This is what arrived.
It took about fifteen minutes to come out. I think they made the baguettes fresh. Or perhaps they were processing batches of them through the afternoon. Either way, this bread stick arrived super fresh, straight from the oven. And it was huge. A perfectly balanced, crusty sourdough with some pretty amazing salted butter. I don't know whether they had smoked the salt or somehow smoked the butter, but that was some smokey motherfucking butter, lemme tell you. It would have been enough on its own.
But of course, I’d also ordered the pork rillette. Oh man, that was some good pork. When we were in Paris just before the pandemic, I used to go to a cafe and have a glass of wine and a pot of rillette to build up my energy reserve for all of the wine and pork we'd be having later. Drinking this guy’s Chardonnay or Chablis or whatever it was, and slathering my freshly made baguette with smoked butter and tender pork put me right back there.
And here's the rub.
Yes, it was more expensive than the terrible ham-n-cheese sandwich at Westfield. Matter of fact, it was twice as expensive. The toasty was $9. The rillette—with the better part of its own baguette—was eighteen bucks.
And sure, not everybody has twenty bucks to drop on fancy bread and pig meat. Not everybody wants to. And for sure, spendy glasses of French white wine are neither to everyone’s taste or budget.
But for me, I feel like I wasted my money on the cheap toasted sandwich. I still resent it. But in paying twice as much at Wineism, I got a great deal. I would drive all the way back to do it again.
It was a small lesson in the difference between price and value.
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