We are going through what some have described as a sandwich revolution. The days of ham and processed cheese between two layers of white bread are behind us. Now sandwiches are loaded with exotic fillings and can pull prices way above a pub lunch.
“The change in sandwiches in Australia over the past few years has been extraordinary,” says food and travel expert Jane Lawson.
The next evolution
“Think truffle and lobster as star ingredients in a sandwich. Think pulling in influences from other cultures,” she says. “The sandwich is an English invention but by mixing in food from other cultures you have an entirely different offer.” She refers to the rise of the katsusando, a thick schnitzel of pork or chicken slathered in mustard and mayo, bookended by two thick slices of shokupan, Japanese-style soft bread that melts in the mouth.
Sando's at Hôntô
Hôntô, in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, has taken the katsusando one step further and used real lobster, chopped and formed into a patty, crumbed then deep-fried until golden brown. This is laid between soft, fluffy white bread and blanketed with creamy dill slaw and salted cabbage. Other top-end sandwiches see fillings like ‘Bunnings’ duck sausage; deep-fried tempura oysters in soft white rolls; sardine, garlic and tomato; wagyu meatball and Barolo jus, chicken liver, onion and sherry. The list goes on.
“This trend sees sandwiches elevated way beyond their traditional perception as office lunch or picnic food,” says Jane. “They are high-end, can be sold with a glass of wine and are good business.”
Totally hot toasties
Even hotter are toasties! “They remind people of their childhood, coming home to a toasted cheese sandwich,” says Masterchef contestant and toastie aficionado, Ballarat’s Tim Bone. His take on his childhood ‘spaghetti jaffle’ is a macaroni and beef ragu toastie with plenty of cheese. “The secret to a great toastie is cheese, and heaps of it, it adds salt, fat, gooeyness, flavour and holds the entire thing together,” says the genial chef. “We have seen the toastie rise from the humble ham and cheese on white bread to a beautiful hot meal with fillings like slow-braised lamb shank, lamb shoulder and toasties that layer great salume and different cheeses.”