Hungry? Me too, I could really use a sandwich. I’m particularly fond of what we called “hoagies” in the north east. You might know them as “submarines”, “po-boys” or “grinders”. Hmmmm? Oh, not that kind of sandwich? Ahhh. Too bad, really, but that’s okay. How about a smørrebrød instead? Bill Sheckels, the fine furniture maker from Greenfield Massachusetts, has got just the thing. Bill makes classic and custom fine furniture in the Scandinavian and Shaker styles which reflect his Denmark training and heritage. He also happens to enjoy puzzles, and applies his considerable skill to that pursuit as well. On his Black Dog Puzzle Works etsy shop you will find all sorts of beautiful hand-made interlocking and stacking wooden puzzles, all crafted and finished with a fine furniture maker’s touch. Many will be familiar with his “Caged Coin” puzzle, which was exchanged at IPP32 in Washington, D.C.. It’s a compact and clever little puzzle, and keeps your quarter well secured – at least my Texas state quarter has never been freed from its cage. I featured Bill’s Book Puzzle Box last year, which is a nice addition to the bookshelf although some consider it to be a challenging read. Bill has a wonderful new puzzle box, which he has very generously sent to me, knowing my fondness for such things!
|The Sandwich Puzzle Box by Bill Sheckels|
The “Sandwich” Puzzle Box is a bit of a hybrid and will appeal to a broad audience. The box is composed of lovely lacewood, with its shimmering scales and waves brought to a fine polish. The two halves of the box make up the sandwich, I suppose, and they do resemble a few slices of perfectly toasted bread. Not so fast, however, as this sandwich is locked (you might even say sandwiched) between eight notched pieces of walnut. Like many of Bill’s puzzles, the whole thing can be disassembled, if you can figure out how. I actually needed a little hint from Bill, as I did not want to risk any damage to this gorgeous gift. No force whatsoever is needed, however, and he has hidden a wonderful trick here in plain sight. I even enjoyed the burr-like disassembly on this box, and I’m not “PuzzleMad”. The Sandwich box has a perfectly satisfying mechanism and as a bonus there’s plenty of space inside the box for your lunch. So if you’re feeling hungry, grab a Sandwich – Bill’s in the kitchen now.
|Beautiful lacewood and walnut|
Naturally, we need something to drink with our lunch. Bill’s box inspired me to create something apropos as well. I present to you the “BLT”. I found a few versions of this cocktail out there which were either a variation of the Bloody Mary or a clever acronym which had nothing to do with the sandwich (bourbon, lemon, tonic – which does sound delicious). I wanted to make an actual bacon, lettuce and tomato cocktail, which retained the essential flavors and tasted good somehow. I’m not sure how well I succeeded but it was fun trying.
|The BLT Cocktail|
A hugely popular trend in mixology emerged about ten years ago called “fat washing”. It was started by Don Lee, a bartender at New York’s iconic PDT bar (Please Don’t Tell). Lee infused bourbon with bacon fat and created the famous “Benton’s Bacon Old Fashioned” which caused a sensation at the time. That sounded like a great place to start. I made bacon fat washed bourbon for the BLT, and used Weller’s Special Reserve, a smooth wheated bourbon, for the “bread” and bacon aspects. I used an heirloom tomato syrup, which gives the drink a sweet tomato flavor while avoiding the overpowering effects of actual tomato juice. The lettuce comes in as a bit of muddled arugula, which lends pepper spice too. Shake it all up and enjoy it with a fresh BLT on some Texas toast while trying to turn this puzzle box into an “open-faced” sandwich. Thanks Bill, and Cheers!
|Go ahead, it's completely healthy ...|
2 oz bacon fat washed bourbon (such as Wellers)
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz heirloom tomato syrup
Dash of salt and pepper tinctures
2 dashes celery bitters
Pinch of baby arugula leaves
Gently muddle the arugula with the tomato syrup. Add the remaining ingredients and shake vigorously with ice. Double strain into a favorite glass over a large cube. Crumble crispy bacon over it for your very best friends.
|A pair of atypical sandwiches, and "Both Look Terrific"!|
For more about Bill Sheckels and to purchase the Sandwich Box see:
For his Book Puzzle Box see: