I think of myself as sandwich agnostic. It's not that I don't believe in them, per se; I just rarely acknowledge their existence. I need hard cold evidence; you have to really shove a good sandwich in front of me, and then all of a sudden I become a believer all over again.
This sandwich did that for me, many years ago, and it's enough to make a devotee out of any sandwich skeptic; it's utterly simple and yet captures the best of summer, so it's time to make it right now.
Many years ago I lived in central Florida, and my favorite beach getaway was St. Augustine, which had the advantage of a little history and architecture to go along with the simpler pleasures of sun and salt water. After a pleasant day at the beach or wandering the little touristy streets, the next best part of St. Augustine was a hip, chill beach cafe in the quieter part of town, just a block from the ocean. Cafe 11 also had a seriously good taste in music; they were constantly bringing in indie acts I loved, big and small, and giving them a stage in a place that barely held 50 people. It doesn't get much better than that.
But wait — it does. They had this sandwich, and it was called The Mozzacado. It was an odd yet sublime mix of avocado smashed on bread, layered with fresh mozzarella cheese, tomato, and pesto. Think of it as an upgrade to that wonderful classic, the tomato-mozzarella sandwich.
I haven't been back to Florida since I moved away, and I don't think of St. Augustine very often, but this sandwich brings it all back. I keep it simple — with good toasted sourdough bread, the last of the summer tomatoes, and a few leaves of basil in place of the pesto. If you need just a few more beach days, take one of these sandwiches along with you; it's one to believe in.
4 thick slices sourdough bread
1 small ripe tomato
4 thick slices whole milk mozzarella
6 to 8 fresh basil leaves
Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lightly toast the bread. Meanwhile, smash the pitted avocado with a little salt and pepper. Spread a thick layer of smashed avocado on the warm bread.
Layer the cheese with the basil and tomato over the avocado.
Make two sandwiches, slice, share with someone you love, and enjoy!
Updated from post originally published May 30, 2007.
(Images: Faith Durand)