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Fresh, local ingredients set this BLT apart

Never one to do things the easy way, I decided to get a little exercise before a shift at the Reel Inn for White Marlin week. I figured that I would loosen up the ankles and the knees after the first two days behind the grill. The old joints were stiff, and it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Yeah, exercise; about that.
Let’s just say that my stint in the emergency room on Monday didn’t take too terribly long. Now I’m trying to gather my wits as to whether I should finish the week out or let this knee rest. What was the size of a respectable grapefruit on day one is now down to a baseball-sized knot with some commendable hues of blues and purples that I’m pretty sure shouldn’t be associated with anyone’s knee.
But this is what happens when we, the aged, try to keep up with the young. If I had to be brutally honest with you, as many of you readers insist that I be, I’ll be right back at it as soon as I am up and able; and well after this knee doesn’t resemble something out of the “Alien” franchise.
Having been pardoned from this evening’s dinner service by Captain Nick, I decided to focus on grown-up things, paying bills and getting some long-overdue errands completed. I stopped by Gilbert’s Provisions to see what was cooking down there, and picked up a couple of things and then went over to see Matt and Stephanie Dove at their studio.
It feels good to be able to spend time just roaming around Berlin, and getting to know the amazing people who have made this the great little town that it is. There are so many wonderful things to see, artisans to meet, craft beers to drink and truly good food to enjoy.
Upon finishing our conversation, Matt and Stephanie offered me some vine-ripened tomatoes, which I immediately accepted if for no other reason than their deep-red color. Even in the middle of summer, the tomatoes that I’m seeing in many restaurants and grocery stores are terrible, flavorless gassed abominations. I mean, not that I have a strong opinion about them or anything.
Offer me what you will from the back of a truck, but there is nothing like tomatoes fresh off the vine. My wife and I grew them in Baltimore, but never had luck with them down here. My parents grew them at our place outside of Annapolis, and as I look fondly back on that period of my childhood. It was just a normal day for my father to pluck a tomato off the vine, with that singular nightshade smell wafting through the air, fighting the ethereal smell of the compost pile. My dad prided himself on that heap of rotting leaves and grass.
He would cut a chunk of tomato off and hand it over to me, and we would stand there and eat our glorious harvest like apples. I still do that to this very day as long as they are good, warm tomatoes.
And as soon as they handed me the tomatoes, I knew exactly what I needed to make. While there’s nothing wrong with a tomato sandwich on wheat toast with Duke’s Mayo, I wanted to go right back to Gilbert’s and buy some of his homemade bacon. It was perfect, and would round out my most-interesting day of healing, bills and puppy ownership. Man, this puppy. No, I’ll save that for next week, if he doesn’t put me in the grave before then.
As I close this out, I realize that I need to grow some tomatoes next year, if for no other reason than to hand my son a chunk of one right off the vine. Maybe in my slower, older days I’ll take up gardening, and avoid the emergency room.
makes 4 sandwiches
8 slices multi-grain toast
8 leaves Fresh romaine
1/2 cup Spicy Hank Mayo (recipe follows)
12 ounces Old Bay Bacon from Gilbert’s Provisions
8 slices of beefsteak tomatoes, fresh

1. I’m not sure what this sandwich kick is as-of-late, but I like it. Sometimes we just need to take a step back from the cutting board and get back to basics
2. For this sandwich to truly stand the test of time, you need to seek out fresh tomatoes. There is no substitution and you will know when they are true. They are a different creature altogether
3. Toast the bread slices and slather top and bottom with the spicy mayo
4. On a medium heat, fry some of Toby’s Old Bay bacon – which they usually slice uber-thick – until it is to your liking. Personally, I’m not a fan of crispy bacon, so I’ll always make sure that there is some chew left in it
5. Stack the tomatoes, lettuce and bacon on the bread and skewer the sandwich halves
6. Split and serve
Spicy Hank Mayo
makes about 1 cup
3/4 cup Duke’s Mayonnaise
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 Tbsp. Hank’s Hot Sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Combine everything and adjust the seasonings to your taste
2. This will keep for a good long time in the icebox