A bánh mì for verdi requiem

Picnic in Millennium Park for the last Friday performance of the Grant Park Music Festival: Closing Night – Verdi Requiem.  The menu? Bánh mì sandwiches!

I love picnics and sitting outside in the great summer weather to enjoy music and the company of great friends.  Chicago is a wonderful area for all these things, whether it be Ravinia or the free music in Millennium Park, there are so many great venues to take advantage of the trappings of summer.

Today, I decided to make Vietnamese sandwiches, bánh mì, to bring to the picnic.  I have never made these sandwiches before and didn’t bother even looking up any recipes because it was so last minute.  I felt that since I’ve eaten an army’s worth of these sandwiches at various sandwich shops popping up around the city that I could replicate my own version of this delicious sandwich.

I started with a few ingredients I picked up at the store:

  • fresh baked baguette
  • whole roasted chicken
  • cilantro
  • bean sprouts
  • cucumber (english style seedless)
  • romaine lettuce
  • carrots
  • jalapeno peppers
I also had a few ingredients in my fridge/cupboards at home:
  • fish sauce
  • vinegar
  • sugar
  • salt/pepper
  • soy sauce
  • sesame seed oil
  • cream cheese
I first chopped up thin slices of cucumber and carrots and fast “pickled” them in a mixture of vinegar, sugar and fish sauce.  I sliced up generous chunks of roasted chicken breast and drizzled them with some sesame seed oil, soy sauce and salt and pepper to taste. As a quick trick, pop the baguette in the oven at 350 for 5 minutes to get it nice and crunchy before making the sandwich. Allow the bread to cool and spread with cream cheese and then layer the chicken, romaine lettuce, pickled cucumber/carrots, bean sprouts, slices of jalapeno and sprigs of cilantro.  Make sure you get rid of excess liquid from the chicken and cucumber (or else you’ll end up with soggy sandwiches!).  Luckily the cream cheese adds a nice layer between the filling and the bread to help it keep during your trek to the park.  Add cracked pepper to taste. Nom Nom!
My friend brought this refreshing riesling from Trader Joe’s.  The spicy and vinegary sandwiches washed down so well with the sweet riesling.  I think I added one too many jalapeno slices because the peppers, the alcohol and the warm weather were making me sweat!  There was also a sweet and crunchy corn/tomato/avocado salad which paired well with the sandwiches.  The pita chips and milano cookies didn’t hurt either!
The weather was so wonderful.  Please don’t leave me summer!
My friends and I are such dorks that we decided to make it Threadless / Woot shirt Friday at the lab/office.  Hooray for novelty tees!

Picnic by the lake…

This picture was taken at Lake Michigan near Belmont Harbor.  I thought it would be fun to take Peter for a picnic by the lake, but the  foggy lakefront masked the pretty view of downtown Chicago.  We still had fun and the fog actually made for an interesting photo.  Peter shared his love for “malta” soda pop which he acquired while helping his father manage the family’s Mexican liquor stores.  The malta washed down well with my sandwiches!