Running through Saturday is 30 Mile Meal Restaurant Week, designed to showcase what local farmers produce.
About 20 area restaurants have special menu items this week or are making an extra effort to feature goods from the area's farmers (both crops and livestock), wineries, bakeries, cheesemakers, etc.
So the timing seemed right to do the same thing with this week's food page.
This sandwich by famed chef Thomas Keller, prepared by Adam Sandler in the movie “Spanglish,” has been dubbed “the World’s Greatest Sandwich.”
Especially in the summer, I often draw food page inspiration from the bounty at the Howland Farmers' Market, but this week I looked for ideas that could be as local as possible and settled on an old favorite and a first-time (but definitely not the last time) recipe.
I spend most of my time writing about entertainment, not food, and those duties include a weekly DVD column.
I would argue the greatest DVD extra I've ever seen - certainly the one I've used the most - was included in the 2004 movie "Spanglish." Adam Sandler played a famous chef in the James Brooks' film, and Thomas Keller (owner of Napa Valley's The French Laundry) served as a creative consultant on the film.
One of the bonus features on the DVD has Keller explaining how to make what is called "the world's greatest sandwich."
Essentially, it's a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich with Monterey jack cheese and an over-easy egg, but those additions really elevate it.
It's a sandwich we make at least a couple times every August/September to take advantage of the in-season tomatoes.
Brooks says it on the DVD, and it can't be stressed enough: use good bread. This isn't a Wonder bread sandwich. Something substantial is needed to hold all of those ingredients together.
I bought a loaf of crusty Tuscany bread at Giant Eagle in Howland for our sandwiches; however, everything between the bread was local.
The bacon and the eggs came from Miller Livestock in Kinsman. The Monterey jack was made by Middlefield Original Cheese Co-op. The tomatoes were purchased from Shipula Farms of Jamestown, Pa. And while the recipe calls for butter lettuce, I used red leaf lettuce from Hershberger's certified organic farm in Middlefield.
I left the mayo off (and added a second egg) to keep it more local, but it is the perfect condiment for this dish.
Here's a word of warning: This is a sandwich to eat with family or close friends. It's big, it's messy, you're not going to look pretty eating it, and there's a good chance you could end up wearing some of it. Juicy tomatoes and drippy eggs do not make for a dainty dining experience. But it's so good, no one at the table will care.
The other recipe came in a Food & Wine email about a month ago and has been sitting in my inbox waiting for local corn to come into season. It's a creamed corn with bacon recipe from Cleveland "Iron Chef" Michael Symon.
I love Symon's food, but his dishes are labor intensive and, like many cookbook recipes, always seem to take longer to make than it says it will.
The time-consuming aspect for this dish is making the corn stock. It's worth the effort, but it took a lot longer than the half hour listed for my stock to reduce (I did double the recipe). I didn't have any corriander seed at home, so I just tossed some cilantro in the pot.
Again, this was made primarily with local ingredients. The bacon, garlic and butter were from Miller's. The corn came from Shipula. The onion was from Hershberger's. The sour cream, cilantro and lime weren't local.
This is a dish where the corn is the star, and its summer sweetness is accentuated by the smoky saltiness of the bacon. And the cilantro and the hint of lime from the zest seem to brighten the other flavors.
Both of these are recipes, conceivably, that could be made year round, but they'll never taste better than they will for the next month or so. And they'll never taste better than they will with local ingredients.