Salame, Figs, Fennel and a Sandwich Showdown

  Figs, Fennel Salami, Goat Cheese, Arugula, Apple-Fennel Slaw
plus 1 Mystery Ingredient

Yesterday I participated in “TopWichSF” a sandwich-showdown hosted by San Francisco’s Colombus Salame and Sean Timberlake, author of Hedonia and founder of Punk Domestics. I am a big fan of Columbus products, and was more than pleased to be 1 of 3 bloggers invited to this event to promote Columbus’ new line of Farm to Fork Naturals salame. The setting couldn’t have been more perfect, outside on the sunny terrace of Hotel Vitale’s Cafe Americano, overlooking the San Francisco Embarcadero in the company of my formidable competition, John Mitzewich and Michael Procopio.

To begin with, Sean had created a sampling of small bites he created using Columbus products for us to taste. We were then introduced to the Colombus company, and given a little back ground on its 100 year history and the intricacies of flavoring and shaping various salame. I didn’t realize how important a role the casings play in distinguishing flavor – and, apparently, size does matter.


Before we donned our aprons, we were whisked across the street via Pedi-Cabs (picture a bicycle rickshaw with crossfit drivers) to the San Francisco Ferry Building, a bastion of glorious food purveyors, restaurants and specialty shops. We were given ten dollars and ten minutes to purchase the secret ingredient of our choice which would catapult our sandwiches to the highest level and propel one of us bloggers to the winning title. We then had a brief yet scenic trip back to the hotel where we returned to our battle stations on the patio, providing extra entertainment for the restaurant patrons at the nearby tables.

In 20 fast minutes, we had to create our sandwich masterpieces and plate for 5 esteemed judges from Chow, Tasting Table, SFWeekly, YumSugar and Columbus. No time to get nervous. And no time to taste my sandwich either – the time just flew by. After the judges compared notes and tallied scores, the winner was … John! He made a smoked turkey and soppressata sandwich embelished with a pluot and pinenut relish and harissa (no wonder). Michael’s  sandwich was beyond creative with grilled turkey and soppressata with apples, slathered in  bone marrow butter. (These guys are good). As for me, I kept things fresh and made a fennel salami, fig and goat cheese sandwich topped with fennel-apple slaw and a sprinkle of fennel pollen (my secret ingredient). John generously donated his cash prize to the San Francisco Food Bank, and I think we all won by experiencing a fun and fabulous day and opportunity to meet a few friends in the blogging community and the friendly faces behind Columbus Salame.

As for my sandwich, I’ve recreated it here – mostly for you, but also for me, since I never had a chance to take a bite of the one I made yesterday. Buon appetito!

Fennel, Fig and Salami Sandwich with Goat Cheese

Many specialty stores will carry fennel pollen with their spices, but don’t despair if you can’t find it. A little sprinkle definitely adds an extra boost of flavor, but this sandwich is equally delicious without. Alternatively, add 1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon to the oil in place of the pollen. Makes one sandwich.

Mustard Fennel Oil:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1/4 teaspoon fennel pollen
Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Apple Fennel Slaw:
1/2 small green or fuji apple, thinly sliced in small matchsticks
1/2 small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt

1 ciabatta roll

2.5 ounces soft, fresh goat cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon fennel pollen, or to taste
1 – 2 figs, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 ounces thinly sliced fennel salami
Small handful fresh arugula leaves

Make the Mustard-Fennel Oil:
Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Make the Apple-Slaw:
Toss all of the ingredients together in another small bowl. Set aside.

Assemble sandwich:
Horizontally slice the ciabatta roll in half. Spread the bottom half with the goat cheese. Sprinkle with black pepper and fennel pollen. Arrange the figs over the cheese in one layer. Top with 2 layers of overlapping fennel salami slices. Top the salami with arugula, then top the arugula with some of the apple-fennel slaw (you may not need all of it). Spread the cut side of the top half of the ciabatta with the Mustard-Fennel Oil and cover the sandwich. Eat immediately.

16 responses to “Salame, Figs, Fennel and a Sandwich Showdown

  1. what an amazing day!!! congratulations – sounds like if you played you won!

  2. Yours sounds the best to me! Add a glass of rose and your lovely company outside along the waterfront and it would be pure heaven.

  3. My goodness.. that sounds exciting, fun and definitely scary for me! Making anything under pressure would be a challenge.. you’ve made a wonderful sandwich! I’m not sure how they could select just one winner! xx

  4. Fennel pollen, hmm, like pollen from the fennel flower? I had not idea that could be used as a taste. That is stunning. I think I would have loved shopping there .. I did like your selection of tastes, what a fun competition.. c

  5. Oh my goodness! Who needs a dinner entree with such a flavorful sandwich! Just irresistible!

  6. What an incredibly fun day it must have been!! Congrats on being one of the three lucky bloggers to compete – and IMHO I am more drawn to your sandwich with the apple fennel slaw than the others, although the pluot and pinenut relish and harissa sounds amazing. Pinning this!!

  7. Congratulations! What a fun and exciting experience, I really enjoyed reading about it. Your sandwich looks divine- I love the fresh flavors!

  8. Sounds fun and I think you have a winner here!

  9. So cool that you got invited to do this! I have to say this does look/sound like a fantastic recipe.

  10. So great you got to participate! Sounds like a fun event, although I would be scared out of my mind… don’t “do” well with contests, I don’t think. Actually presenting a seminar already freaks me out enough ;-)

    Fennel pollen – I almost bought some a while ago, but decided against it, I already have too many exotic spices waiting for a good use – but, of course, now I want to make your sandwich, so I better get it ;-)

  11. Now THAT is a sandwich worth celebrating!

  12. Pingback: Skillet Pizza with Caramelized Fennel, Onions and Salame | TasteFood

  13. Pingback: about Columbus Discovers New Sport – Competitive Salami Sandwich Making | food

  14. Pingback: Columbus Discovers New Sport – Competitive Salami Sandwich Making | Daily food for good health

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