I’m not really a ham and cheese kind of girl. I like a good turkey or veggie sandwich for everyday and maybe an Italian sub when I feel like going for it, but I barely give a passing glance to ham and cheese on a menu. The fact is they rarely impress, and ham usually has one flavor profile–salty.
There’s one variation that refuses to be ignored: Auntie Em’s Black Forest Ham And Mustard Seed Gouda. This sandwich from the Eagle Rock cafe is something special and (caution) crave inducing. Perhaps the most important thing is that it comes on delicious pretzel bread, which is thick but pleasingly pillowy. None of that hard stuff they try to pawn off at you at, say, Whole Foods. Secondly, the smokey ham is folded and stacked high above a couple of slices of creamy Gouda, which is flecked with mustard seeds, giving it a fantastic intensity that wakes up the whole combo. It’s definitely as crucial as the pretzel bread and should never be substituted for a simple cheddar or jack. Dijon mustard is spread on the top piece of bread, complementing that robustness of the cheese while a healthy schmear of mayo on the bottom slice keeps the flavors under control. Lettuce and tomato finish it off.
I’m not usually one to crown anything “the best,” but for my money, it really is the best ham and cheese sandwich I’ve ever had (not counting trips to France). Plus, it’s so hearty that you only need to get half, which opens you up to the full array of Auntie Em’s lovely seasonal side salads.
4616 Eagle Rock Blvd
Los Angeles, 90041
Valentina Silva writes about food and restaurants. You can also find Valentina’s reviews and stories on her blog, Eastside Food Bites.