by Max Hodge, Ellie’s Bakery Manager
Summer is always an interesting time, with the frantic energy of spring subsiding into long days and a slower pace. The greens of spring have long been harvested, and tomatoes and other juicy vegetables are taking their time bathing in the sun, slowly developing flavor and becoming sweeter every day. This is the time of year to delight in simple pleasures; to cherish simple ingredients and let Mother Nature cook lunch.
This summer, Ellie’s is celebrating the bounty of all that our local farmers have brought to us. Ripe tomatoes from Scratch Farm, mozzarella from Narragansett Creamery, garlicky basil pistou; all of these ingredients are served on our crusty baguette, unadulterated and fresh, which really serves to be the hallmark of what you should be eating in late summer.
I know I shouldn’t pick favorites; however, our ham sandwich is to die for. Black Forest ham is sliced incredibly thin and layered high on our pillowy Pain de Mie with pickled peppers, whole grain mustard, and Cabot cheddar cheese. Throw in some fresh greens and tomato and this sammie is one for the books. It’s one of our more hearty sandwiches, and I personally like it toasted on the panini press. It doesn’t travel the best once toasted, but it really doesn’t stand a chance to last that long. This is a two-handed operation to manage in the best way; the type of sandwich you would expect to discover tucked away in some Rhode Island institution, yet we’re serving it up smack downtown.
When it warms up outside, our menu has to keep pace. We generally try and have some sort of chicken sandwich, which is usually some kind of chicken salad. When it hits the dead of summer, we pull back from our homemade mayonnaise dressings and opt out for a simple grilled chicken sandwich. Baffoni Farm in Johnston has been raising beautiful flocks of chickens since 1935, and the quality of their chicken is unrivaled. The care they put into their livestock is evident in the excellent quality of the meat they produce. The chicken is soaked in a buttermilk mixture before being grilled, and then stacked on our fresh bread with avocado smash, Grafton smoked chili cheddar cheese, lettuce, and of course, more fresh tomato.
And last but not least is our good ol’ faithful pork belly sandwich. We are shaking this bad boy up with sharp provolone to help play off of the spicy mayo and crack spice seasoned pork belly. Get it toasted, order a second one to stash away for a midnight snack, bring a date to share it, or hoard it to yourself—any way you have it is a good way to have pork belly!
Insider tip: Does your breakfast sandwich have more bite to it these days? We have always made our own bacon, and now we’re cutting the bacon a bit thicker than we have before. It’s a pretty good time; I like to have my breakfast sandwich with double egg, bacon, and avocado smash. The bacon is the rockstar add-on in my books, and if you haven’t gotten down on it… no day like today!