Sometimes, an idea comes in to your head that’s so great that you have to pursue it immediately. Such was the case when I was watching Eurovision a year ago and suddenly had an epiphany; why not combine this kitsch farce with a sandwich competition?
It was such genius that I thought, akin to when John Lennon wrote the opening bars of ‘Imagine’, surely someone had done this before? Well, apparently not, so I set out to organise this veritable celebration of all things Eurotastic, and where better to hold it than at The Cube Cinema‘s mega Eurovision party?
I approached a few of my favourite sandwich purveyors to take part – our final list of participants was nothing short of impressive and a good mix of local businesses who are well known for top quality, tasty food. I couldn’t wait to see what they brought to the table (quite literally) and set about randomly assigning their countries. Here’s who got what:
Source – Italy
If you’re unfamiliar with Source in St Nicholas Market you should give yourself a stern talking to, as not only do they have excellent meat and fish counters, but also a tasty selection of deli treats, and a great cafe to boot. I’m particularly fond of their veggie tarts, ridiculously scrummy cakes and extensive list of events.
Bosh! – Greece
Whether you’ve been to their brilliant supper clubs or scoffed their dizzyingly rich brownies and cakes (available at several cafes around town, including Playground, Full Court Press and Small St Espresso), you’ll know that Bosh! mean business, and are particularly strong when it comes to sweet stuff and veggie fare.
Bearpit Social – Spain
Another champion of vegetarian and vegan fare (although they also do treats of the meaty variety), Miriam is the head honcho here and is well known for providing healthy, balanced lunches and snacks which also manage to be very yummy indeed.
The Wicked Lunch Co – Germany
Tucked away on the corner of St Stephens St and Colston St, this unassuming cafe does some of my favourite sandwiches and salads in the city – their jerk chicken is particularly special. They’re all about bold flavours and top ingredients, so you can’t go far wrong with any of the menu choices.
Brew Coffee Co – Sweden
Famed for some of the best brunch in town (and the rest), you’re in for a treat here whether you opt for their lip-smacking breakfast options, fresh salads or tarts. I particularly like this place for the chilled atmosphere, nice decor and the sun trap of a terrace – plus the staff are ridiculously lovely.
Chris & Jo’s Kitchen – Azerbaijan
Relatively new to the Bristol food scene, Chris & Jo first ran the kitchen at Be.In Bristol, before moving to The Vittoria on Whiteladies Road, where they now provide generous roast dinners and doorstop sarnies for nothing short of thigh-slappingly good value. Needless to say, they felt slightly apprehensive once they were told which country they’d drawn.
The only rules given to our contestants were that we needed enough small sandwich portions for 20 people, and that the sandwich they create must in some way represent the country they’d been assigned. Beyond that, it was all down to their imaginations.
I used my creativity to make a rather stunning trophy for our eventual winner…
Before long, Competition Day was upon us. I was excited, our contestants were nervous, there was a fair bit of sandwich smack talk going down – the tension was palpable.
Having picked up some of the sandwiches from around town and taken delivery of the rest at The Cube, it was time to set up for the tasting and judging.
So, allow me to tell you a bit more about our incredible entries. Needless to say, it was going to be a close competition – everyone had brought their A game to the Eurovision table,
Plus, not only were the sandwiches of a mouth-watering quality, but the standard of pun-tastic names was also admirable.
Bearpit Social (Spain)
‘El Momento en el que Todo Cambia’
Chorizo, white bean & red pepper patê, grilled pork and slow roasted pepper pinxos.
Brew Coffee Co (Sweden)
‘Knowing me, Knowing Brew – Aha!’
A traditional Smörgåstårta (sandwich cake) containing smoked Salmon, cray fish, mayo, dill, lemon, chilli, coriander, labneh, cucumber, radish, carrot and tomato on sourdough bread (pic at top of page).
‘Things Can Only Get Feta’
Whipped feta, marinated grilled aubergine, pickled cucumber & carrot and smashed chickpeas in a mini pitta.
The Wicked Lunch Co (Germany)
‘The Wicked Pastrami München Club’
A triple decker club sandwich with pastrami, smoked cheese, mustard, gherkins and salad.
Chris & Jo’s Kitchen (Azerbaijan)
‘I Can’t Believe it’s not Baku’
Saffron, sumac and honey buns filled with roast butternut and chestnut, wilted greens with nutmeg, date purée, lemon and fresh herb goats cheese, salted chickpeas and pickled red onions.
‘Save your Kisses for Salami’
Source focaccia filled with fennel salami, pesto, tomato and mixed leaves.
After a couple of hours of tasting, with over 100 sandwiches consumed, more than 38 people fed and a lot of deliberation, the votes were counted (several times mind – I’d had a couple of ciders by this point, sandwich hosting is thirsty work)
The winners of the debut Eurovision Sandwich Contest were…
The final votes were incredibly close, with only a few points between each contestant – unsurprising given the quality of all the entries. Overall it seemed that the Azerbaijani sandwich packed a real punch of different flavours so was scored especially high by our voters – plus they had mini milk buns and tiny flags, and people will always vote for cute.
It was a pleasant surprise to see the two vegetarian sandwiches come top – just goes to show that us Bristolians don’t give extra weighting to meat!
I was bowled over by the effort all six businesses went to, by their enthusiasm and their creativity. They also kindly donated all profits to The Cube Cinema, which is a volunteer-run establishment and a gem of the Bristol arts scene (seriously, pay them a visit – they show great films, put on some fantastic gigs and also have one of the cheapest bars in town).
Thanks again to Bearpit Social, Bosh!, Brew Coffee Co, Chris & Jo’s Kitchen, Source and The Wicked Lunch Company – make sure you support these wonderful independent businesses; now you’ve seen what they can do you’ll have to go and taste their wares for yourself!