Friday, May 17, 2013

The Village Stand

About a month ago, I was invited to participate in a sandwich-making competition for bloggers where we had to "Create a Gourmet Sandwich in 10 Minutes". It sounded pretty cool so I ironed out my apron, and got ready for the challenge. This Top Sandwich-Maker showdown was held at The Village Stand, a quaint culinary market in Miami Shores, located at 216 NE 98th Street.

An Assortment of Jams and Sauces

The Village Stand, owned by husband and wife team Alison Duran and Jorge Espinosa, is a haven for foodies and gourmands alike. From the welcoming ambiance, to the charming decor, the gourmet shop reminds you of the kind of grocery stores our grandparents used to shop at. Their primary goal is to feature healthy, organic products from local vendors, and they scope the Farmer's Markets in the area to find them. Their shelves are stocked with palate-pleasing gems and to bring the best variety to their customers, they also offer tasty brands from out-of-state that they have found in their culinary travels.

Picante Salami
Manchego Cheese
Now back to the competition. A group of us foodies gathered around the table and Alison explained the ingredients we could choose from to make our creations. Some of these delectable items were fresh baked Crackerman sprouted bread, organic tomatoes, picante salami and my personal favorite: Truffle Mousse Pate and Cornichons from Le Trois Petits Cochons. Our choices also included Cremont goat cheese from Vermont Creamery, Ponce de Leon Manchego Cheese, mouthwatering sausages from Proper Sausages,  Pascales Artisanal and Gourmet Specialty JamsPika Sauce and SYLTBAR finishing balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Jorge judged the sandwiches on taste and presentation
The timer was set and we got to work. I decided to make half of my open-faced sandwich the "weekday" version and the other half, the "weekend" version. I kept the weekday version lighter on the ingredients and more traditional in form, with items such as a bit of Braswell's Select Raspberry Honey Mustard, picante salami, manchego cheese, organic tomatoes and a dash of salt and pepper. The "weekend" half was wild. I spread some more raspberry honey mustard (you know me and my sweet and savory fetish), but added a chunk of proper sausage to the middle, with creamy and delicious Cremont cheese on either side. I topped the cheese with truffle mousse pate and tiny yellow, heirloom tomatoes. The proper sausage was crowned with onion slices and then everything was drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Biting into it erupted a mega flavor explosion.

Voila: My Sandwich Creation!
Jorge was the judge of the competition. He tasted every sandwich and gave us his knowledgeable feedback. At the end, there was a tie for the prize. Drum roll please....the winners were: Tony, from Miami Food Lovers and yours truly, the Foodaholic! I was so excited to win and I adored my prize: an assortment of chocolate bars from Sucre Chocolates.

I won't tell you how long they lasted at
home before I ate them.
Jorge giving my sandwich the
 taste test
Chocolate Cheesecake from
the Cheesecake Gallery
After we enjoyed our specially created sandwiches, we indulged in some locally made Roc Kat Ice-Cream (totally loved the salted caramel) and mini cheesecakes from the Cheesecake Gallery. It was a fabulous afternoon in a place that truly personifies what a neighborhood gourmet shop should be.  By the way, I'm looking for suggestions on what to name my sandwich. Any ideas?                              

For more information on The Village Stand, you can visit them online at‎.

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