The Hippo


May 31, 2020








The Romper. Emelia Attridge photo.

The Romper

In A Pinch Café & Bakery, 
2 Pillsbury St., Concord
Assignment: The panini. This sandwich must be a grilled panini and should incorporate meat, melted cheese, vegetables and spreads. Cheese should be melted throughout. For the bread, use ciabatta or focaccia (or a similar alternative).
Recipe: Panini sandwich with thick layer of pastrami, prepared with cracked black pepper and Italian seasonings. Made with poupon mustard, cheddar cheese, red onion and slice of tomato on ciabatta bread, then grilled in a panini press.

The Romper
In A Pinch Café & Bakery, 2 Pillsbury St., Concord


 Kitchen manager Sarah Chadwick was inspired by the classic New York delicatessen when she created The Romper.

The sandwich is made with layers of pastrami for a thick, pink core, heated up on a plate with cheddar cheese and red onion. The sandwich is then assembled on ciabatta, with poupon mustard spread on both sides and slices of tomato. Chadwick adds oil to the panini grill as well as both sides of the sandwich to guarantee the panini’s signature texture and a “crunchy, crispy, buttery taste,” she said.
“Basically the pastrami that we buy is already flavored [with] cracked pepper and Italian seasonings,” Chadwick said. “So when we use that, and we melt the cheddar, I think that heated brings out a lot of the flavor it wouldn’t if it was a cold sandwich. And I think the mustard that we use gives it a little more tang, a little more spice and a little more flavor.”
She said she didn’t want to add more vegetables, since the tomato and red onions paired so well with the rest of the sandwich, and the ingredients were selected to complement one another.
The Romper gets its name from its pastrami center. Originally, Chadwick and Schafer thought of calling it “The ‘Rami,” but another staff member thought of “Romper,” and the name stuck.
The menu at In A Pinch Café & Bakery features panini grill sandwiches like the Ilana Cubaba (an herbed pork sandwich with Swiss cheese, ham, tomato, Dijon mustard, sliced pickles and a house Mojo sauce spread) and the My Bleu Chicken (sliced grilled chicken breast with melted blue cheese, tomato, bacon, red onion and tomato). In A Pinch also runs cheeseburger and steak bomb panini specials. 
But the two most popular panini sandwiches are The Gobbler (made with roasted turkey, bacon, American cheese, tomatoes, pickles and a house honey cup mustard spread) and the Vegetarian Mozza Melt (thick pieces of fresh mozzarella cheese with house pesto, tomato and basil), which owner Sandy Schafer said is her favorite.
“The pesto smells so good,” Chadwick agreed. “The bread alone is great.” 
Chadwick noted that customers appreciate that the house pesto is made without pine nuts.
The American interpretation of the Italian “panino” is a pressed and toasted sandwich (in Italy a panino is any sandwich made from bread that’s not sliced bread and may or may not be pressed and served warm). Here, Chadwick said, paninis are almost like a gourmet grilled cheese. The bread and high-quality ingredients are what separate the gourmet from the ordinary, she said.
“The panini is a more intricate sandwich,” Chadwick said. “I definitely think it is more of a modern trend. You see even Panera Bread doing their thing with the chain.”
What makes a gourmet sandwich?
Sarah Chadwick, kitchen manager at In A Pinch Café, Concord: The quality of meat, the quality of cheese. And it would be more of something that you wouldn’t find every day or everywhere. I think pairing the different meats and the different cheeses and accommodating that with the different vegetables makes it what it is, so it isn’t your average panini. 
As seen in the March 20, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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