Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cheese Sandwich Day - Flog My Blog Cheese Sammich

The Great Cheese Sammich Controversy! Everyone has an opinion. Voices have been raised higher than the alleged silent movie gesturings on most food blogs.

Some food bloggers were indignant that a member of the community was picked on and many suffered niggling suspicions that they were the proverbial cheese sammich blog that received such a grilling. Others took the high road and declaimed the whole “ickiness” of it.

I, for one, am a happy, cheesy person.

Gasp! Say it is not so!

Yes! So! Me!

I tell anyone who would listen, or read in this case, what I had for lunch or dinner all the time. Because that is what you do in Singapore. Come on! In this country, a typical greeting is, “Have you eaten yet?”

Am I in the motherland of cheese sammiches then? Here, everyone tells you what they had for lunch, what they are having for lunch and what they intend to have for lunch all the time! Can you blame me for lapsing into inevitable cheese sammichness? I am but a poor, hapless victim of my circumstances.

Just before the sage
Sam decided to calm the tides of wrath in an increasingly heated discussion in Food Blog School, an industry observer (let’s call him S) identified a comment I had made as particularly snarky. He even honoured me by quoting part of the post, which I proudly insert here with deft and nifty two fingers –

“The thought of sharing spit with him is more than I can bear. *Inserting finger down throat and making gagging noises*.”

I actually followed this up by stating that I was behaving particularly maturely that morning because ... well, it was very early in the morning and I had not had my coffee yet. You wouldn’t have known this from S as he did not quote the entire post - probably because he had not had the benefit of my masterful two-finger skills. Which are marginally superior to my one-finger talent.

This erstwhile defender of Pete Wells had done the exact thing that I took offense to in the
Food & Wine article. Not Mr Wells’ opinion, as I am a strong believer of agreeing to disagree and he did have a couple of valid points, but the way particular quotes were taken out of context. My post was in response to a suggestion to send our half eaten cheese sammiches to Pete Wells. I do not know how things are done in S’ part of the world, but in mine, sharing spit with anyone, Pete Wells or otherwise, would definitely induce me to stick my finger down my throat. I take that back. I will make an exception for Hugh Jackman but I am not sharing my toothbrush!

But of course, in his post, S made no mention of the conversation before or the context in which it was made. I posted a rather humorous response (to me anyway) which I think only
Kalyn saw before Sam wisely decided to take down the entire forum. Now my sparkling pre-morning coffee wit, such as it was, is forever lost (sic).

I also made a recent comment at
Matt Bites! that pretty much sums up my sentiments.

The article from Pete Wells offended because he took a fairly narrow viewpoint and advocated that as a benchmark for all food blogs. Worse, he did it in a way which denigrated some people by taking passages from their blogs out of context. That to me is irresponsible journalism. It was unkind and unnecessary.

We all have our favourite blogs or blogs which are unable to hold our interest - choices arising from our personal values, beliefs and environment. They need not and should not apply to others.

It is, of course, a wonderful thing that he brought greater attention to some deserving sites. But is it Food & Wine USA or just Food & Wine? Because his evaluation of most of the sites, sans Noodlepie, appears to be very borough-centric.

Being a rather provincial person, I liken food blogging to performance arts. When I dosh out money to watch a performance, I expect a fairly high standard because ... well, I paid money! But when I attend a performance that is free, I'm typically just grateful that these performers have dedicated their time and talent to entertaining me. That's not to say I do not have standards, but simply that I do not expect them to outshine or equal the professionals.

Should the performance be particularly horrific, I exercise my right to make a bolt for it instead of perching on the conductor’s box, demanding a mass exodus while heckling the performers. Admittedly, I might be tempted to do so if I had paid for the trauma. But since it is free, I bring my Nikes. Tip: There’s a wonderful little thingamajig at the upper left corner of your screen irreverently entitled “Back”.

That saying, I started my blog not to entertain anyone except a few close but hungry friends around the world who constantly harped at me for recipes, photos of food and anecdotes of the strange-going ons in my life. So yes, I tell them what I had for lunch just to rub their noses in it. The fact that anyone else reads it still amazes me. But to be honest, I would be happy plodding along on my little cheese sammich blog even if no one did.

So I guess my mission statement is not to become a legend in my own lunch time.

But hey, I just had dinner and holy cow, I am going to tell you about it! Oh the cheesiness of it all. The gruyere! The asiagocity!

In honour of this day, I christen my simple cheese sandwich, Flog My Blog Cheese Sammich.

Flog My Blog Cheese Sammich
A small walnut bun sliced into two horizontally
1 small flank steak
- mine was about 120g and about 1cm thick
Marinade for the beef (loosely based on Nigella Lawson’s Black & Blue Beef):
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- about ¾ tsp of minced garlic
- about 3 tbsp of light soy sauce
- 1 tsp of sesame oil
- 1 stalk of spring onion, minced
- 6 massive dashes of ground black pepper
- 1 tsp of honey
2 slices Harvati cheese
About 4 slices of mozzarella cheese
1 whole red pepper
7 cloves of garlic
½ red onion, sliced
Olive oil
Basil leaves
Garlic crème (majorly deviated from Bill Granger’s recipe in Sydney Food):
- 7 cloves of garlic
- Olive oil
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- sea salt
- ground black pepper
- about 1 cup of sunflower oil

1. Place the marinade with the whole flank steak into a Ziploc bag and let it all just sit there and stew, like all the food bloggers over the weekend, for an hour

2. Start the garlic crème by cooking the 7 garlic cloves in olive oil really slowly on extremely low heat for about 30 minutes

3. Remove the garlic cloves and set aside

4. Caramelise the red onion in the garlic oil till a rich brown and set aside

5. Start searing your red pepper over the flames till the skin is charred and put it into a sealed plastic bag for about 20 minutes

6. Remove the burnt skin from the pepper and remove the stalk and seeds and slice it into thick strips

7. Put the slowed cooked garlic cloves, egg yolks, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper in a processor and blend

8. Add the sunflower oil a spoonful a time, blitzing constantly till the sauce begins to thicken, before adding the oil into a steady stream till well emulsified. Taste the sauce to see if you need to adjust the seasoning. I didn’t so I started ambling around aimlessly licking my sauce-stained fingers

9. Heat a non-stick pan on high till smoking

10. Sear the steak on high, unmolested, for about 1 ½ mins on each side and let it stand for a wee while before slicing it. Try not to sneak bites like me. Oh, sorry, am I making too many personal references?

11. Lightly butter the two cut sides of the bun and toast till a sun-bronzed hue

12. Start layering, mates! From bottom up were:
a. The bun’s bottom (hey, it’s a cheesey post, alright?)
b. Harvati slice
c. Basil leaves
d. Caramelised onions
e. Beef slices
f. Mozzarella slices
g. Basil leaves
h. Caramelised onions
i. Roasted pepper strips
j. Garlic crème
k. Beef slices
l. Harvati slice
m. Top bun

13. Put the bun in pan and squish the blighter with another heavy pan. Talk sternly to it (pretend it's the school bully - that was just for you, Kalyn) as you turn up the heat so that the cheeses start melting a little

14. Remove, cut in half and eat it

I was trying for a Dagwood sammich but my innate love of small portions kicked in. You see that basil leaf in the picture? It’s there to show you that the bun was actually barely the size of my palm. See? I can be scientific and submit evidence. I’ve given evidence in a court of law too ... does that count? Am I being too personal again? Darn.

The Flog My Blog Cheese Sammich is an all original Mana Makan creation. Juicy and full flavoured, each of the ingredients managed to assert itself without cowing its brethren. Modest cheese sammich blogger that I am, I think it was pretty fantastic and rate it a 8/10 for taste and 7.5/10 for health. OK, it’s more of a cheese and steak sandwich but I’m experimenting with the excitement of taking things out of context here.

Can it be improved? I hope so because I still have 4 buns left and I’m stuck with sandwiches for the rest of the week now! Luckily I just had a brilliant idea for a chocolate sandwich so just 3 more to go. There, I just exhibited a purpose and an overwhelming urge to eat towards a finish line.

After all that is said, done and eaten, the food blog community has taken this in stride. With high humour and tasteful good nature, we’ve raised our cheese logs and keyboards at dawn to poke gentle fun at high-minded criticism and ourselves.

The result is a wonderful plethora of creative, colourful and delectable cheesiness. Who knew a cheese sammich could be such delicious fun?

Mr Wells, can I make you a cheese sandwich, please? After I’ve photographed and posted it, of course. I am a food blogger, after all.

Categories - Call Me Others, Meat Me For Dinner, Rambling Prose


Blogger ilva said...

Wow what a sandwich! Sounds and looks delicious! Lets live and let live, don't you think! Viva il panino con formaggio!

10:06 pm  
Blogger Kalyn said...

Just brilliant. You do have such a way with words! And the sandwich sounds wonderful.

10:17 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice step-by-step instructions! Thanks for sharing your yummy-looking sarnie!

10:55 pm  
Anonymous pieman said...

"I do not expect them to outshine or equal the professionals."

Nor does Pete Wells. He compared blogs with blogs. Not blogs with the mainstream media. He found some of those blogs shit, some not.

Are you saying you disagree with that? And if you do, do you think all foodblogs are universally brilliant?

12:18 am  
Blogger a said...

Hi MM,

Wow-that was real delicious sandwich - can I take a bite?

Belated Happy Valentines Day!


12:36 am  
Blogger sailu said...

MM,that was a pretty looong post but worth reading.You have a way with words,dont you?
Great pics,MM.

12:40 am  
Blogger MM said...

Hey Pieman, I was expecting you. Welcome. Firstly, congratulations and I hope your journalistic endeavours continue and flourish. I am a frequent visitor to your blog as I love Vietnamese food and you have great food porn.

If you read my rambling post carefully, you will note that I said he had some valid points. I do not think all food blogs are universally brilliant just as I do not think all periodicals are universally brilliant. I judge them for what they are. There are a lot of blogs and food magazines that I think are inadequate for my needs but may actually meet the needs of others.

Comparing blogs to blogs will always be a challenging task and at the risk of sounding cliche, it is much like comparing oranges to apples. Someone who used to be or is an aspiring journalist or published writer would, of course, churn out better content than a (generalising here people, so please do not get mad) sheltered housewife whose first language may not be English?

To me, when I come across a blog that is written by a current or former member of the media, I pretty much consider them as content from professionals. I enjoy and appreciate their blogs as much as the sheltered housewife's by curbing my expectations. Just as I sometimes use the Back button on your blog when I come across something that I am not interested in. Does not mean that what you wrote that day was shite, just that I have different interests from you.

As I've said, I respect Mr Wells' opinion (each to his own) ... I just did not think his tone or how he got his point across was necessary.

Have a great weekend, Pieman.

12:41 am  
Blogger Michele said...

Beautiful sandwich!

10:02 am  
Anonymous Tricia said...

Gorgeous sandwich - and I love the name of it! And I appreciated the cultural insight as well. (In certain parts of Baltimore, when people ask "Did you eat yet?" it sounds like "jeet jet?")

11:00 am  
Blogger mrs d said...

Well said (and tasty!) ::applause.::

11:21 am  
Blogger Gourmetish said...

That is definitely a sandwich I'd pay for (and I'm a cheapskate!). Looks great!

1:06 pm  
Blogger MM said...

Sorry all, real life ... so inconsiderate ...

Ilva - Thanks! It was and I was tempted to make another. I love yours though. Yummers! And aye, aye to that!

Kalyn - Thanks so much! That's what my mother used to say before she punished me too.

Pille - Thanks for visiting. I like step-by-step instructions when I look at cookbooks and sites so I try to do the same for likeminded peeps. Also, I have a couple of friends that are a little challenged in the kitchen so it's for them.

Tin - For you, I'll make a whole sammich! Congrats again!

Sailu - Yes, am actually embarrassed I was so mouthy but I knew there would be a lot of deliberate misunderstandings otherwise. Thanks so much for visiting. Your site is one of my favourites! I love your sandwich!

Michele - Thanks!

Tricia - Thanks and how funny! Never been to Baltimore but if I'd heard that, I would be taking a step back and preparing to make a run for it ... LOL.

Mrs D - Thank you! Thank you. Please no autographs ...

Gourmetish - LOL. Me too! Thanks for commenting!

I really enjoyed everyone's sandwiches - they were fab!

5:25 pm  
Blogger mg said...


Love your steak & cheese sammich! mmmm, drooling over the photo. It's 10am here and my tummy is making that noise again... such a risk visiting your site.

I really wish i could write like you.

6:16 pm  
Blogger MM said...

Hey Mae! How funny .. there I was at your site drooling over yours! I'm so inspired by yours I think I am gonna make something similar over the weekend!

Thanks so much for the compliment but psst ... a little secret. I used to have to write speeches and some of them were soul-eviscerating. Let's just say my flag of shame is writing for a politician once. When I was threatened with dismissal after I refused to write an article about how an organisation donated a (obsolete) computer to a dying boy and take photos of it for publicity purposes, I decided to hang up my typwriter by its blood-stained ribbon. However, my writing is "shit" here as I do not pay proper attention and just ramble. Because I can, unlike in real life.

Hey, it's my blog and I'll flog is I wanna ...

11:20 pm  
Blogger Antti said...

Food porn at its best, and I luv'd the name :) I realized I've totally neglected fancy sandwiches in my diet lately... I'll definitely try yours very soon :)

2:42 am  
Blogger hereandthere123 said...

Fantastic! I don't eat meat, and I still think it looks mighty tasty.

Nicely done!

2:51 am  
Blogger Barbara Fisher said...

This is my first visit to your blog, and you had me laughing the whole way through this post.

There is nothing wrong with your writing here.

And at the risk of sounding like your mother--you -do- have a way with words.

I'll definately be back.

2:24 pm  
Anonymous zorra said...


8:51 pm  
Blogger MM said...

Antti - Yeah, have one for me too! Thanks so much ... I rather like the name myself! LOL.

Hereandthere - Actually I thought of making it vegetarian but I had this slab of beef that had to be used before it declared a state of emergency so ... I like your recipes too!

Barbara - Thanks so much! It means a lot coming from you. Please do come back and hopefully I do not disappoint ... oh noooo .. the pressure ... the pressure!

Zorra - Yeah, baby, yeah!

1:29 am  
Blogger Boston Chef said...

An amazing sandwich - this feat will be recreated in a kitchen in Boston (ours!) in the not-too-distant future...

Love your blog, we learn so much about cooking and get such awesome recipes from yours and the other millions of food blogs out there!

We'll post our results when we attempt your cheese steak sandy adventure... And thanks for visiting our humble blog, as well...

6:22 am  
Blogger Gourmetish said...

oh YUM!

6:52 pm  
Blogger MM said...

Aw, thanks Bostonchefs & Kady!

Isn't it wonderful how we get inspired by each other? I really love that ... I do not get that kind of feedback from my other writings except when peeps buy the book or work. This is so much more satisfying.

6:11 pm  

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