Grilled Mini Muffalettas/Barley Island Brewing Barfly IPA/Witchcraft “The Alchemist”
We decided to do a new, smaller take on our traditional full size muffaletta. We keep the tomato foccacia base, just opting for the “burger” size bread instead of the “hubcap” size of the original. We did, however, make wholesale changes to the meat. We went with sopresetta, spicy pepperoni, boiled ham and the kicker (damn you Guy Fieri for stealing that word) is the crisp, char-grilled pancetta. We added mozzarella to the traditional provolone and topped things off with Italian sub dressing and a spicy olive salad. The beer we went with is the tasty Barfly IPA from Noblesville, Indiana’s Barley Island Brewing Co. For the music, we needed a little retro doom and who better to provide that than Sweden’s Witchcraft and their stellar 2007 release “The Alchemist”.
Grilled Mini Muffalettas – This whole meal can be completed grill side, so grab a big old tray to carry all these goodies outside.
The first thing we need to do is crisp up the pancetta. Place a grill pan over a medium flame and toss in several slices of pancetta.
Carefully toss the pancetta in the pan just until it is browned and slightly crisp. Since pancetta is a type of bacon, it has that “bacon-y” quality of continuing to cook and brown even after it is off the heat. What results after you let the bacon sit is a wonderfully crunchy element that will be added to the sandwich.
Next we slice the foccacia in half and place the bottoms cut side down on the grill just until grill lines have formed then we can flip them over and scoot them to the cool side of the grill.
A few splashes of Italian sub dressing goes on the bottom halves followed by a few slices of the sopresetta and pepperoni.
|We could blame this picture on the beer, but the reality is we needed to reach over a scorching hot fire for this pic. Another couple of seconds would have resulted in either a melted camera, melted hand, or quite possibly both.|
The next layer is the imported boiled ham which we strewn across the top of the pepperoni, followed by a few pieces of the crisp pancetta.
Now it is time for the cheese. Each half gets a slice of provolone and slice of mozzarella. Cover the grill and let the cheese melt for 2-3 minutes.
Time for the tops of the foccacia bread to get some grill time. These go cut side down over the flame just until the underside is toasted. Remove from heat and spread the spicy olive salad over the top half of the bun.
Remove the bottom portion of the sandwich and slap the top on it. Slice it in half and serve. As similar as these smaller muffalettas were to their larger original, the crisp and salty pancetta made all of the difference. It produced a smoky note that really worked well with the spicy olive salad.
Barley Island Brewing Barfly IPA – From a place called Noblesville, Indiana comes this dignified IPA from the aptly named Barley Island Brewing Co. The beer pours a clear dark orange with minimal head and carbonation to speak of. The aroma is difficult to pinpoint, displaying some traditional pine and citrus notes but also some tinny ones as well. The flavor is sharp and pungent, blurring the line between bitter and boozy. There is a pleasant tangerine-like sweetness that takes the edge off a bit. The beer finishes a little spicy with hints of black pepper and coriander. As for the mouthfeel, it leans a little more toward the viscous end thanks to a fairly sturdy malt backbone. As you can see, there is quite a bit going on with this one, but what results is an interestingly complex and tasty ale. Just about any cold beverage would have worked with the sandwich. With the amount of salt and spice packed into those little sandwiches, this beer stood up to both by quenching our thirst and taming the heat.
Witchcraft “The Alchemist” – Prior to the release of “Legend” (one of our nominees for 2012s album of the year), The Alchemist was our choice for Witchcraft’s best album. If you were to throw The Doors, Pentagram and Black Sabbath in the stoner rock blender, the result would be “The Alchemist”. The tone is eerie and dark, but every song rocks with such a cool swagger reminiscent of all three of the above mentioned bands. “Walk Between the Lines” is the opening track and it drips with all the heavy psychedelics of classic Blue Cheer tempered only by singer Magnus Pelander’s controlled and deliberate vocals. The chugging riff that kicks off “If Crimson Was Your Colour” also harkens back to the late 60s as does the wailing organ. The vocals are delivered with a Morrison-like sneer which again creates this great contrast of a band that is letting it out all hang out musically only to be reined in by the excellent tempered vocals. “Leva” is the best Swedish blues song we’ve ever heard. Alright, so it’s the only Swedish blues song we’ve ever heard, but that doesn’t stop it from being great. It’s basically Thin Lizzy’s “Dancing in the Moonlight” with Swedish lyrics. “Hey Doctor” is the best track on the album, if not the most somber. The riff that begins the song is an Iommi-esque monster, mostly due to its uncanny resemblance to Sabbath’s “Under the Sun”. It’s dark, heavy and loud, what’s not to love about this track. The rhythm section gets to show off their chops to start off “Samaritan Burden” with some great drumming and a fat, rolling bass groove. The guitar comes in to provide yet another fantastic riff and the vocals are the most Bobby Liebling-esque on the entire album. The tracks ends with some atmospheric acoustic guitar work, sounding a little Rush-like. Very cool tune. “Remembered” has a chunky, distorted riff that recalls early Blue Oyster Cult, it’s got a great groove and great solo making it sound like it was recorded 40 years ago. Toss in some saxophone and it just furthers the point. It wouldn’t be a Witchcraft album if it didn’t end off with an epic. In this case the 15 minute title track serves as the curtain call. As you might guess, there is lot you can do with 15 minutes and the band uses their time in a variety of ways. A slow, dark intro with eerie vocals lasts about 3 minutes, before the band starts to heat up. The pace gets picked up a little and things get a tad heavier. After another minute or two, things do a 180 to purely spaced out Pink Floyd with a little Rush thrown in for good measure. This is about as progressive as the band gets. The cycle repeats again before the listener is treated to an awesome jam that even Skynyrd would be proud of. There’s not a bad a track on this gem of an album that we would put just slightly above their self-titled debut for second best in their catalog.