I have visited Miami only two times, each just for a day: first in 1998, when my wife’s family treated us and her siblings and their spouses to a Caribbean cruise that left from there; and second, this past April (2013).
In 1998 we flew in, went to the beach, and gawked at the creamy green hue of the water (rollover above photo for a recent shot). My wife reminisced about the year she had spent living there and how she had rollerbladed the path along the ocean nearly every day. When we got hungry we hit two different food spots ― La Sandwicherie, and a Cuban coffee shop ― and then headed to the ship. La Sandwicherie made a lasting impression and I knew, one day, I would return.
It's the sort of place that can exist only where the weather is warm year round. About ten stools line a counter and face from the outside looking in, into a tiny space where employees, who can barely fit past each other, work their butts off making sandwiches all day long.
It was fifteen years ago but I remember that I had a tuna sandwich. I mean, of course I had a tuna sandwich. I associate tuna sandwiches with Florida because my grandparents made them ― along with Sizzlelean beef bacon ― when I visited when I was younger. I also recall that of Sandwicherie's many gratis toppings, the cornichons were what made the place French. I know, not much to go on, but continuez svp....
Time passed. I visited Florida several times over the years but did not make it back to Miami until last month. Again, a one day visit― and again, beach, then La Sandwicherie. No Cuban coffee this time: we were with our seven-year-old daughter and my 94-year-old grandfather, and we had to get back to Boca for pool time.
It took a few minutes to snag seats but I was happy once again soak in the details of this unique place. An easygoing all-ages crowd dines at the counter while employees somehow fit into tight prep space inside.
Customers’ orders scribbled on tickets arrive from the counter, the to-go window, and via telephone. A sandwich guy assesses and prepares each order, one at a time. He grabs and slices bread, lowers himself to reach into a refrigerator cabinet below the counter, and pulls out plastic-wrapped meats and cheeses. These packages fly from his hands like curve balls toward home plate, some landing precisely on the cutting board, others missing by a long-shot and landing into the bins of vegetables beyond. With metal tongs in one hand and a glove on the other, he opens each baguette-length packet with the tongs and layers them onto the bread. He then races through the collection of those gratis sandwich toppings: cut squares of romaine lettuce, tomato slices, green & hot peppers, black olives, onions, cucumbers, cornichons, mayonnaise, and vinaigrette.
Okay, hold it right there. Rather than continue this description of Sandwicherie’s amazing sandwich process, we must address the vinaigrette. This is the secret sauce that makes Sandwicherie stand out. Time and again, we watched as customers with their sandwiches would first add a drop to their next bite, taste it with intrigue, and turn it into a habit.
This vinaigrette mania could redefine how we make sandwiches.
In the video linked from the above photo, you can see for yourself how Sandwicherie rolls. (Or view higher res version of the video on Pizzacentric's Vimeo page, here.)
And if Miami is not in your upcoming travel plans but you want to try the vinaigrette ― Sandwicherie sells on its website for $5 a bottle.