What's for Lunch? Beyond the Turkey Sandwich

turkey with swissI'm the first to admit I resort to the old turkey and cheese sandwich standby a little too often for lunch. Especially when it's one of those days when I only have time to run downstairs to the cafe and slap together a sandwich then run back to my desk, scarfing it down between conference calls.

But every time I visit the UK, and marvel in the amazing selection of sandwiches available from Marks & Spencer, I always vow to do better.

Here are some of the inspiring sandwiches they have ready to grab and go:

  • Wensleydale cheese and caramelised carrot chutney
  • Cheese and onion
  • Free-range egg and watercress
  • British roast chicken and stuffing
  • Lochmuirâ„¢ poached salmon and cucumber
  • British smoked ham salad
  • British roast chicken and bacon

With these ideas fresh in my mind, I'm committing to shaking things up in my lunch sack once I head back to work next week. The first step? Making a list of all the possible building blocks I like on sandwiches and can use to go beyond the boring.


  • Pumpernickel
  • Multigrain
  • Sourdough
  • Lavash
  • Pita pockets
  • Flour tortilla
  • Baguette
  • English Muffin


  • Mayo
  • Mustard
  • Hummus
  • Ranch dressing
  • Butter
  • Peanut butter
  • Apple butter
  • Plum jam
  • Fig jam
  • Strawberry jam
  • Honey


  • Turkey
  • Tuna
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Bacon
  • Roast Beef
  • Salami


  • Swiss
  • Cheddar
  • Havarti
  • Goat cheese
  • Feta
  • Blue cheese
  • Provolone
  • Mozzarella
  • Brie


  • Lettuce
  • Watercress
  • Sprouts
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Bell peppers
  • Green beans
  • Tomato
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Banana

In order to not avoid not following through due to being overly ambitious, I'll just aim to try to have at least one creative sandwich per week, targeting Mondays so I can make it ahead on Sunday night. I'll share some of my more inspired results here.

What's for Lunch?

This thread over at Serious Eats gave me a solid dozen ideas for going beyond the sandwich for packed lunches. I can not wait to put some of the into action. Were it not for the fact that we are awaiting delivery of a new refrigerator on Monday, I'd be writing up a shopping list now. Cross your fingers our landlords are going for Energy Saver tax credit and not bargain basement mini fridge.

Finanical Districts Eats

This morning, I stopped by La Boulange Bakery on Market Street, a very new replacement for the shuttered  Oh La La. After a little investigating, it appears to be a new location for the Bay Bread folks. Nice to have more than just a once-a-week fix from them (they have a stall at our weekly farmers market.)

In geographically related news, Sellers Markets has updated their seasonal include...southern fried chicken sliders. I am so splurging on some of those next week.

Leftovers for Lunch

Last night, we ate dinner at the delightfully old skool Joe's of Westlake. As I would have expected for any neighborhood Italian joint worth its salt, we came home with a significant amount of leftovers. I'm reheating my  leftovers (spaghetti and meatballs) for lunch today. But I took my boyfriend's leftovers (Steak a la Don) and made a hearty sandwich on toasted sourdough bread with swiss cheese on top..

I've been doing a lot of that lately-- transforming solid meaty dinner leftovers into sandwiches. We've had a few leftover pork loin or pork chops sliced in 1cm thickness pieces, on toasted sourdough bread, mayo and mustard on meat side, thinly sliced apples and provolone cheese on top. It's a nice break from the usual roasted turkey sandwich.

Where to Lunch in the Financial District

Every time a group of my current and former coworkers tries to get together for lunch in the financial district, dozens of emails fly back and forth while we try to determine what our options are for a tasty lunch. Next time this topic comes up, I am going to zip out with this list of my favorite places to have lunch in downtown SF.

  • Metropol. Yummy European cafe food, friendly service. The grilled salmon and their ever-changing pizzas are my favorites here.
  • Boxed Foods Company. Focused on tasty organic seasonal sandwiches and salads, and with outdoor seating.
  • Yank Sing. Hands-down my favorite place for dim sum. They also have great meal-combos-to-go.
  • Out the Door, the Slanted Door spinoff in the SF Shopping Centre, is a sleek sit down place with fast service -- and without the wait of its parent.
  • Zebulon. Great burgers and grilled sandwiches and my favorite Cobb Salad in SF.
  • Town Hall. I think that every time my friend Carolyn and I have been here in the pest 3 years we've gotten the burger.

Work Day Eats

I stopped to do the math this weekend regarding how much money I have been spending on eating breakfast and lunch downtown every day. It looks like I am spending about $20/day. Sure I have a few work at home days each month, but we are still talking about spending $300 per month on eating (often mediocre food) each work day. I am bored to death with the close by lunch places anhow, so I have gone back to bringing my breakfast and lunch, like I used to do almost every day.

The breakfast is usually the hardest part. I can not get up and eat breakfast. I have to wake up before I can even think about eating. So that rules out eating at home. And our kitchen at work = refrigerator and a microwave. No toaster. With those limitations in mind, my breakfasts at work are now instant oatmeal or Galaxy almond crunch granola with milk.

My favorite lunch item these days are sandwiches. sometimes more fancy, but usually pretty basic. I don't actually want sprouts or pickles on my sandwiches. Give me a good quality bread with roasted turkey and some havarti, easy on the mayo and mustard, and I'm happy. Today's sandwich is ham and mozarella on La Brea Bakery pugliese. And thanks to our Costco visit yesterday, I have a wee bag of goldfish crackers to accompany it.

It's going to be a good week, rain or shine.

Sellers Markets expands

I love it when good places are able to grow. In today's email inbox, an announcement from Sellers Market on doing just that. I wonder if they are going into the old Briazz space that was briefly rumored to being close to being leased by Chipotle?

Very Exciting times at Sellers Markets!

Our success at store #1 has given us the opportunity to open a 2nd location. We will be opening this fall 2006 at 595 Market St.(2nd/Market). We will be expanding our menu to include dinner, wine/beer, and evening delivery/catering (M-F). Dinner will include rotisserie items such as Niman Ranch Ribs(to die for), Leg of Lamb, Pork Tenderloin, and Salmon. In addition we will have seating that accommodates 160 with an elaborate fenced in outdoor patio...can't wait to see you there!

I will keep you posted on the opening date...thanks again for your support!

Let's Not Do Lunch

It's depressing but true -- unlike our European counterparts, Americans don't give a hoot about a long leisurely lunch. I'm lucky enough to work with folks who can easily be coerced into lounging around Beale Street on a Friday afternoon. But apparently more than half of all Americans are more likely to work through lunch than to sit down and enjoy a tasty midday meal. All this depressing news is courtesy of a survey conducted by  Smoothie King, a franchise I've not personally ever seen before.

On the flipside, if we *do* bother to head to a restaurant to eat, we get testy if we are rushed on our way.

You just can't win.

I can't recall the last time I saw a leisurely San Francisco lunch taking place. Our downtown and financial district areas are full of office workers scarfing down overpriced junk food or getting cheap takeout from Lee's to eat back at their desk while sifting through emails. What a bummer. It would be so much nicer to have a 2-hour midday break for shopping, napping, or having a nice chat with friends over lunch.

I think I need to compile my downtown lunch list and start corralling people.