Ten slices of bacon closes the deal
Sometimes I know exactly where I want to eat for the week’s Chow story. Other times I play it by ear. This was one of those times: A little internet research led me to a Winston-Salem joint called Rose’s Deli right around the time we celebrate the birthday of our own little Rose. It seemed perfect.
I went deep on University Parkway to find Rose’s nestled in the storefront of a gas station’s convenience store, which never scares me — some of the best meals in the Triad can be found at gasstation outposts like this one. The Burger Spot in Greensboro comes immediately to mind.
The inside was clean and cozy; a quick perusal of the deli case assured me of the quality of the product; but the menu I initially found uninspiring: a generic selection of deli-style sandwiches with some hot items like hot dogs, a cheesesteak list and pork tenderloin in various configurations. Then I saw the BLT on the list, with a detail line that read: “10 slices of bacon.”
Sold! The bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich is a study in minimalism, taking its name from the only ingredients, besides a thin schmear of mayo, that it needs. I had a BLT once with pickles on it. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t a BLT. My wife, who does not eat bacon and is therefore unfamiliar with the rules governing this particular sandwich, once brought me a BLT with black olives and Italian dressing on it. Delicious? Perhaps, but not the thing I was of a mind for.
Rose’s version is of the most basic, with layers of head lettuce, thinly sliced tomato and, as advertised, 10 slices of decent bacon. Yes, I counted them. I had mine on a croissant, because what the hell, though it plays equally as well on a roll or any kind of toast.
Like all BLTs, it was delicious. There’s something about the way bacon plays off tomato: smoky, sweet, salty, crispy and lush.
And while I was immersed in my sandwich reverie I had a minor epiphany.
Seems to me we are always looking for regional identifiers here in the Triad: transportation, biotech, nanoscience, universities and the like. We have a regional cuisine in barbecue, but that’s really a statewide phenomenon. As I polished off the second half of my sandwich it occurred to me that the NC Piedmont Triad should be home to the best BLTs in the country.
North Carolina is one of the largest hog-producing states in the nation, and I can personally attest to the extraordinarily high quality of the bacon I’ve procured here, particularly the type they slice right in front of you.
And our tomatoes! I was once an aficionado of Creole tomatoes, deeply red and almost spicy with flavor. But I’ve come to love German Johnsons, Cherokee Purples and the other varieties of heirloom tomatoes that rise from the fertile soil of the Piedmont even more.
Honestly, I could eat a German Johnson as a hand fruit, like an apple.
As for lettuce — a BLT need not be bound by a commitment to iceberg— we have all manner of leafy greens at our disposal, not to mention the work of a dozen or so high-quality artisan bakers in the Triad able to craft a bread worthy of such product.
I need someone to make me a sandwich like this, or I will do it myself. And then I say we own it: Name it the “Triad BLT” and make it as ubiquitous as tenderloin biscuits in Indianapolis, gumbo in New Orleans, chili with spaghetti in Cincinnati. We would finally have a dish to call our own.
This may be the best idea I’ve had all year. I’ll keep everyone posted as it progresses.
Rose’s Deli; 5000 University Parkway, Winston-Salem; 336.744.9543; rosesdeliws.com