The Midwest and East Coast collided in my kitchen this weekend. A loaf of (gluten free) baguette from West Michigan met a delightful sandwich spread from Virginia…and the rest is history.
Saturday was an odd day for me. I got a late start in writing for a client and forgot about a dinner I was supposed to go to that night (but was reminded in time about it, thank goodness). After a few other things went awry, I was ready for a little downtime.
Enter: Wealthy Street Bakery.
Wealthy Street Bakery, Eastown, Grand Rapids
Although I love love love Grand Rapids (GR) as a whole, Eastown – a neighborhood within the greater Grand Rapids area – is a favorite of mine as it’s like the chilled out and relaxed little sister of GR. While it boasts many fine qualities (too many to mention here), the food scene is especially incredible with favorites like Electric Cheetah, Yesterdog, Donkey Taqueria, Brick Road Pizza, Wolfgang’s, Rowster and of course, Wealthy Street Bakery.
Bread and Pastry Heaven
From the street, the bakery looks exactly like it should: brick, with a beautiful awning out front and large gorgeous windows overlooking the street.
Upon swinging open one of the huge wooden doors, heavenly smells of bread, pastries and coffee flood over you. As your eyes adjust to the light inside, you’re greeted immediately by friendly employees beckoning you deeper inside to browse, ask questions, and order when you’re ready. The sounds of people quietly placing their orders, coffee or teas being made and the conversation of those gathered nearby fosters a relaxed atmosphere that’s rare in many places.
The wood paneling, track lighting, and tables lining the walls and large windows out front offer a warm and inviting place to meet friends or hole-up for a little while by yourself to read a book and relax.
The counter up front however, steals the show. The vast selection of danish, muffins, biscotti, cinnamon rolls and scones glisten under the lights and adorn the counter. Stunning and perfectly baked loaves of Challah, focaccia, sourdough, and cinnamon raisin (to name a few) line a large vertical wooden case behind the counter.
For those who have a gluten sensitivity like myself or who are celiac, in addition to their wheat-based products, the bakery’s gluten-free offerings are incredibly delicious and varied. M&M chocolate chip cookies, muffins and breads are just some of the choices.
Step Right Up
Though my mind was a bit preoccupied with how my day had gone earlier, when I pushed open that door, all thoughts of my strange Saturday flew from my mind as the intoxicating blend of coffee and pastries washed over me. I smiled imperceptibly and immediately stepped into the line.
It was difficult to choose, but my lunch suddenly became an Americano coffee and a poppy seed muffin. Because really, what else does a person need? The gentleman behind the counter gingerly placed my poppy seed muffin, a baguette and cinnamon rolls in a paper bag and I walked (okay, nearly skipped) out and down the sidewalk to my car.
Mercy, it was a heavenly Saturday afternoon.
Have Baguette, Will Make Sandwich – Virginia STyle
As soon as I saw the beautiful baguette in the case at the bakery, I immediately snagged it and decided to make a sandwich inspired by one (okay, several) I’d had while I was attending the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia for an American history class.
The roast beef sandwich with House Dressing and bean sprouts on a baguette from The Cheese Shop in Williamsburg is an experience everyone should have. Ever since my first one on a hot and humid Virginia afternoon seated on a picnic table adjacent to a Civil War battlefield, I’ve been hooked.
The secret to what makes this sandwich so good is The Cheese Shop’s House Dressing that is the perfect replacement for plain old mayonnaise. The flavors of mustard, Worcester sauce and other spices in this mayo-based dressing marry all the flavors of the sandwich together into one delightful culinary side trip.
The Cheese Shop, Duke of Gloucester Street, Williamsburg
As a deli, The Cheese Shop offers delicious specialty foods in addition to their vast array of sandwiches just steps from campus and the heart of Colonial Williamsburg. Immediately upon walking in, your eyes and nose are drawn to the cheeses, olive oils, coffees, cookies, and jams lining the walls and cases. The sandwich counter near the back is manned by incredibly friendly and helpful employees who can offer guidance if you’re ever at a loss as to what you should order.
The Recipe: House Dressing
Instead of waiting for a jar of the dressing to be shipped to my front door, I discovered a recipe on Sunday that is incredibly similar and was concocted by a House Dressing-lover like myself.
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 large clove of garlic
1 tsp light brown sugar
dash of salt and pepper
In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients until well blended and smooth. Refrigerator for an hour or overnight to let the flavors mingle.
On a baguette, generously slather the dressing and top with roast beef, bean sprouts and greens. Serve next to a salad or chips. Enjoy!
A Delightful Substitute
Even though I’m not able to swing by The Cheese Shop for a sandwich to take on a picnic alongside a Civil War battlefield, the baguette from Wealthy Street Bakery, a knock-off House Dressing recipe and a local park will serve as delightful substitutes.
Now please pardon me, I have a roast beef sandwich calling my name. 😉