Ingredients: Brioche, French cheese, ham
Croque monsieur literally means “mister crunch” and it first appeared on a menu in Paris in 1910. This ham and cheese combo took top honours as the best bread in 1918 when it was famously mentioned in Marcel Proust’s literary masterpiece In Search of Lost Time.
Typically eaten with a knife and fork, it also has a female equivalent called the Croque Madame, which is topped with a fried egg.
Find it in Paris: Possibly the best croque monsieur in Paris is to be found at the famous Cafe Les Deux Magots in Saint Germain. This quintessentially Parisian cafe makes the best bread. Opened in 1873, it was once the meeting place for literary luminaries like Ernest Hemingway and Jean-Paul Sartre.
Make it yourself at Fraser Suites Le Claridge Champs-Elysées: The French may have elevated the humble grilled cheese sandwich to gourmet status but this crunchy meal is easier to make than it looks. Making use of your kitchenette, just stuff French cheese like gruyere or comte and baked ham into sweet brioche bread. Layer more cheese on top, and if you like, add homemade or store-bought bechamel cheese sauce. Then bake or fry until the edges are crisp.
Ingredients: Batter, egg, chopped scallions, pickled mustard greens, cilantro, crispy wonton wrap, sweet soya bean sauce
Jianbing is one of China’s most popular grab-and-go breakfasts today. Legend has it that it originated in Shandong province in 220 AD when the army, under the command of the famed Zhuge Liang, lost all its woks. So the accomplished strategist ordered his men to hold their shields over an open flame and use it to cook pancake batter with a handful of other ingredients. Jianbing was thus invented and it fuelled the hungry soldiers to victory.
Today, Jianbing fills the stomachs of famished Shanghainese every morning. Jianbing stalls typically open around 6am and each pancake is meticulously layered with an egg, chopped scallions, pickled mustard greens and cilantro, sweet soya bean paste and a piece of crispy wonton wrapper – an addition that is typical of food from Shandong. Although not technically a sandwich, it’s eaten in much the same way.
Thanks to the trend for global street food, Jianbing has since found its way outside China to New York City, Los Angeles and London. But perhaps the best place to eat it is on the streets of Shanghai during morning rush hour.
Find it in Shanghai: Look for Jianbing street food carts outside subway stations early in the morning, and choose the one with the longest line. Or try Hele Refreshment Stand in Xiangyang Road, a second-generation Jianbing stall widely regarded as the best bread.
Make it yourself at Fraser Residence Shanghai: Not far from Xiangyang Road is Fraser Residence Shanghai, a tranquil sanctuary with fully equipped kitchens in each apartment. To create your personal Jianbing, first pour the batter into a skillet to make a thin crepe, then spread the egg evenly on top, followed by the vegetables. Add the wonton wrap and sweet sauce before folding the pancake.
Ingredients: Bun, tripe, vegetable broth, salsa verde
The lampredotto – panino con il lampredotto in full – is the quintessential Tuscan street food sandwich and it can be found almost everywhere in Florence. Once considered peasant food, Italy’s best bread can now be found all over the city today from food carts, serving both locals and tourists.
Sniff out the fragrant lampredotto broth to find it, or just follow the sound of church bells in Giotto’s bell tower to the piazza at the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. To order like a local, choose to have your bread roll bagnato, which means dipped in broth.
Find it in Florence: You can find lampredotto at tourist traps, or you can go to where the locals enjoy the best bread, at Lupen e Margo near the San Lorenzo market on the corner of via dell’Ariento and via Sant’Antonino. Here you’ll find a food cart operated by Beatrice Trambusti’s family since 1872.
Make it yourself: Take tripe – one of a cow’s four stomachs – and slow cook it in a vegetable broth preferably made with carrot, celery, tomato puree and onion. Stuff it into a bun before topping with some tangy salsa verde sauce to complete this robust delicacy.
Reuben Sandwich (USA)