It’s a wrap: Sandwiches abound at Wytheville eatery

Published 1:31 pm Tuesday, August 1, 2023

It’s a wrap.

I just concluded my fourth year participating in what has now become a summer tradition known as “Take a Break from the Interstate.”

Always the last weekend in July, the event featured a 3-day road market along scenic, historic Route 21 – a 100-mile trip that began in Harmony and stretched all the way to Wytheville, Va.

We headed out on Friday morning and once past Harmony, we continued ahead at a peaceful, leisurely pace. We winded along the less-traveled, scenic road – I was reminded of simpler days. Staggered rows of Christmas trees dotted the hillsides as we made our way to Sparta, spending the night at historic Doughton Hall, an idyllic countryside bed and breakfast.

The next morning, we continued our trek for miles while enjoying passive mountain views and rolling hills. Open-air markets, yard sales, artisan booths, and food truck treats appealed to the bargain shoppers and avid foodies traveling with me.

After arriving in Wytheville, we stumbled upon a delightful dining spot – a log establishment dating back to 1776.  With a colorful flower garden out back, we caught glimpses of live turtles, doves, and rabbits living among the flora. An old carriage house served as the gift shop. Everything about the place was as big a treat as the unpretentious menu. When the time came for us to order, lunch offerings gave us a glimpse of what might have been eaten in a bygone era – a long list of nothing but simple, yet satisfying, sandwiches.

What is it about plain, crusty bread that we love so much?

For me, it’s the smile-provoking memory of Mama packing a picnic for the pool or park. Or an effortless suppertime meal eaten at our kitchen table or in the backyard while watching the sun go down.  As kids, we wolfed down stacks of “sammich” triangles during those now-gone-by humid days.

The no-fuss, easy, manageable, and ordinary sandwich is a much-beloved choice for any meal. We love it, and it loves us right back. A crusty bread Sammy can stand alone – it doesn’t need much filling; it loves us when we’re too tired to make dinner and when it’s too hot to cook. It’s never high maintenance unless you demand it to be piled upon, and it doesn’t insist on being complicated to emote good taste. The bread combo gets along well with lettuce, tomato, and usually onion – and always shows love for peanut butter and bananas. The great American sandwich – it’s the one meal that scores high in taste and is everyone’s favorite. When served alongside a plain, leafy green salad drizzled with a homemade vinaigrette – you’ll never eat better. Simple eating. And don’t forget the homegrown tomatoes that beg inclusion.

Solomon wrote most of the book of Proverbs to teach people how to attain wisdom and apply it to their daily lives by living Godly. One translation of Proverbs 17: 1-2 reads, “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.” (NIV)

For a word that means easy – simplicity is a profound word. Often, building a simple life gives way to a smoother and more even-keel existence – one without so many complications. Fewer conflicts don’t mean life will always be easy, but you will face fewer resolution-demanding issues. Build a solid foundation with loving attitudes toward others and a love for God.

Kind of like when building a simple sandwich – you will build a more peaceful life through love – and remember,  “better a bread crust shared in love than a slab of prime rib served in hate.”


4 oz. softened, log goat cheese

2 Tbsp. balsamic syrup

8 toasted slices brioche

1 lb. ¼-inch sliced, marinated chicken

2 cups sliced pickled beets

1 thickly sliced granny Smith apple

4 Tbsp. pure honey

On each piece of toasted bread, spread 1 Tbsp. of goat cheese. Drizzle with 1 tsp. of balsamic syrup. Set aside. Divide the chicken up and place on top of the other 4 slices of bread to form the sandwich bottoms. Spread sliced beets on top of chicken. Add sliced apples on top and drizzle all with honey. Top with remaining bread slices. Cut on the diagonal. Makes 4 sandwiches.


1 ½ lbs. red beefsteak/heirloom tomatoes

½ cup Basil Vinaigrette

½ cup torn fresh basil leaves

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

½ tsp. sea salt

Basil Vinaigrette

1 ½ cups chopped fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

½ juiced lemon

¾ cup canola oil

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. light sea salt

In a bowl, quarter the assorted, colored heirloom tomatoes. Pour the vinaigrette over top. Gently toss while making sure not to smash tomatoes. Add basil leaves and season with pepper. Gently toss again. When ready to serve, add only enough salt, to taste. Serve at room temperature. For the vinaigrette, in a blender, combine basil, parsley, lemon juice, oil, pepper and salt. Blend until smooth. Pour into a container, cover, and refrigerate.


2 cups hearts of Romaine lettuce

½ cup homemade or store-bought Caesar dressing

½ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

½ cup premium mayonnaise

¼ cup whole grain Dijon mustard

8 slices toasted whole grain bread

½ lb. each ham and turkey breast

2 ¼-inch sliced fresh tomatoes

In a bowl, toss lettuce pieces with Caesar dressing until evenly coated. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and pepper and toss again. In another bowl, combine the mayonnaise and mustard until well blended. To build sandwich, spread 1 Tbsp. of mayo mixture on each piece of toast. Set aside 4 of the pieces. Evenly divide the ham and turkey on top of the remaining 4 bread slices to form bottom of sandwiches. Add 2 slices of tomato to each. Top with ½ cup of Caesar salad. Then top with remaining 4 slices of bread. Cut on the diagonal. Makes 4 sandwiches.


2 lbs. fingerling potatoes

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Sea salt, to taste

½ cup sour cream or nonfat Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

1 sliced shallot

½ cup Lemon Vinaigrette

Lemon Vinaigrette

1 lg. egg yolk

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 juiced fresh lemon, plus

½ tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. sea salt

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

On a large baking tray, spread out potatoes and drizzle with oil. Toss and spread out in single layer. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in a preheated 400-degree oven for 25-30 minutes stirring occasionally until golden and tender. Set aside to cool. When cool, slice potatoes into ½-inch thick slices. In a mixer bowl, combine the sour cream, dill, and shallot. Toss. Add ½ cup of Lemon Vinaigrette and toss again to coat thoroughly. Season again, to taste with salt and pepper. For the vinaigrette, combine the egg yolk, mustard, lemon, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth. Add more lemon juice if needed for desired thinness. Pour into container, cover, and refrigerate.


4 chunked ripened avocados

1 pint halved grape tomatoes

¼ toasted pine nuts

¼ cup fresh lime vinaigrette

Freshly ground black pepper

Sea salt, to taste

Lime Vinaigrette

3 juiced limes

1 Tbsp. pure honey

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 minced cloves garlic

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2/3 cup canola oil

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

For the salad, in a bowl, combine avocados, tomatoes, pine nuts, and vinaigrette. Toss gently without mashing the avocado. Season with salt and pepper. Chill. For the vinaigrette, in a blender, combine lime juice, honey, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper. While slowly processing, slowly add oil until processed. Stir in cilantro. Pour into container, cover, and refrigerate.


Whole grain Dijon mustard

8 slices toasted brioche bread

12 slices Swiss or Gruyere cheese

1 lb. roasted, sliced chicken or turkey breast

Cranberry or other fruit relish

Pickled red onions

For each sandwich, spread 1 Tbsp. mustard on every piece of toasted bread. Set aside 4 pieces of bread. Divide turkey evenly on remaining 4 slices of bread to form the bottoms of sandwiches. Spoon 2 Tbsp. of cranberry relish and spread on each of the 4 turkey meats. Top the 4 with 2 Tbsp. of pickled red onions. Add 2 thin slices of cheese on top. Top with the remaining 4 slices of bread. Cut on the diagonal. Makes 4 sandwiches.


1 lb. fresh/frozen whole cranberries

¼ cup dried cranberries

1 cup sugar

3 tsp. grated fresh ginger

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

1 juiced, zested orange

¼ cup water

In a food processor, combine cranberries, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, orange juice, and zest. Pulse off and on until mixture is left chunky. Add water, a little at a time, while pulsing until you reach the chunky consistency you desire. Allow to stand for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate. Yield: 3 cups.