If you ever find yourself on the island of Lefkada, in Greece, and you happen to be wandering around the center of town on a sun-soaked afternoon--maybe on your way back from the beach, or on your way to dip your feet into the crystal blue water, you might stumble upon a particular sandwich shop. It doesn't look like too much from the outside (or inside, really). You might, in fact, mistake it for some touristy place and make tracks instead for the local bakery, where you can find a flaky cheese or spinach pie--and I wouldn't fault you for that, either. But IF you find yourself in that town square in Lefkada, you should stop at the sandwich shop and order a panini, you really should.
I love that place. You can pick from a huge selection of fillings--feta cheese, olives, roasted vegetables, cold-cuts, cooked meats, fresh vegetables, and spreads ranging from the mundane (mayonnaise) to the exquisite (tzatziki). Then some harried, over-heated person assembles the sandwich for you, disappears for a few moments, and returns with a beautiful toasted panini covered in criss-crossed golden grill marks, melted cheese oozing from the sides.
Because I've always had the memory of those sandwiches in the back of my mind, and I'm always on a quest to recreate my beloved food-related Greek memories--especially in the summer when I ache for a chance to get back to Greece again, I have been coveting one of these for some time now:
A panini press. And, guess what? I got one for my birthday! Since Monday I've been in sandwich heaven--mixing and matching fillings and pressing them to my heart's desire. T. has been enjoying hearty after school snacks every day this week--sometimes a cheese quesadilla, or her favorite, a peanut butter, Nutella, and banana sandwich, perfectly grilled and washed down with a mug of vanilla soy milk.
I've spent the week googling panini recipes (go here and here for some good ones) but the best thing about grilled sandwiches is that you can add almost anything to them and they always turn out just right--minus the sun-soaked town square, of course, and the promise of a dip in the Ionian sea.
This is an actual picture of the town square, but the person who took the picture must have been in the sandwich shop, enjoying a panini, so you can't see the shop here.