As soon as I’d given up my morning love for carbs (bye bye, bagel), I’ve discovered two wonderful sandwich shops near work – one brought to my attention by Pete (that devil!). We made plans to meet up for lunch one day (shortly after the start of my new job) at Salume, a two day old and very bright and small modern space on West Broadway. After greeting me with his customary “You look amazing!” (isn’t he sweet?) followed by a new “…but depressed.” we sat down with our menus, and without too long a pause settled on the Langhirano (parma ham, buffalo mozzarella, tomato, extra virgin olive oil) and Tropea (hot salami, brie cheese, gherkins, tabasco sauce). Having already browsed several early reviews of the place, I knew full well what to expect and Pete’s exclamation “Oh, how cute!” when the sandwiches arrived was not surprisingly more than accurate – the sandwiches were barely bigger than the palm of my hand, which, for more than $12 each had me imagine that it’d been made from edible rubies and gold.

the adorable baby panini in its wrapper

But, size doesn’t matter right? The super tasty sandwich contained little bites of fresh ingredients, and altogether, a palm sized sandwich was the right sized serving. My stomach managed to stay silent the rest of the day.. perhaps partly due to the good dent in my wallet.

Now down the opposite side of Broadway is Despana, a place known for their amazing Spanish coldcuts and delicious sandwiches. Having already been sent to purchase a few for various “important clients” of the showroom, the walks back to the office (while cradling the sandwiches in the crook of my arm) are always fraught with a terrible argument – Conscience against The Natural Instinct of Human Survival. I can not begin to count how many times each sidestreet navigating away from the direction of work would call out to me, each alleyway and turn perfect opportunities to claim as unfortunate crimescenes for muggings.. had it still been the 80s or early 90s. I could smell the meats – chorizo and serrano ham – warmed by the press, and the fresh baked scent of the bread, soft and springy, when I arrange them onto the plates to be served. And finally, one day I gave in, and convinced coworker Patrick to split a sandwich with me for lunch.

The Picante bocadillo, warm pressed, was a sandwich layered with slices of spicy chorizo, cow’s milk cheese, tomatoes and spicy peppers… with a light smear of aioli sauce. Each bite was punctuated by an affirmation: Yes, this was the right choice for lunch today. Yes, sandwiches can be very delicious. Yes, Despana is my sandwich god. Yes… carbs. And even better? The price of each sandwich is mostly below $9, and each half is the size of one $12 Salume creation.

image from Serious Eats

The harsh realities of a formal paycheck set in, tax deductions and all, meant that today (and all foreseeable future days) was a day for a more humble sandwich – a Vietnamese banh mi from the Saigon Bakery. A long but speedy line meant I was in and out of there in under 5 minutes, and at $3.75, with half that I could save for tomorrow, I can now put my $5 savings towards… shoes. Yep, the purchase won’t be for a while.

image from Midtown Lunch