What: The bacon, tomato, fontina and basil panino
Where: Clementine Gourmet Marketplace and Café, 72990 El Paseo, Palm Desert
How much: $10
Contact info: 760-834-8814; www.clementineshop.com
Why: The pickles brighten things up nicely.
For the first couple of bites, it was simply a sandwich—a tasty sandwich made with great ingredients, yes, but still just a sandwich—that was pricey and on the small side.
And what was on the plate alongside said sandwich, frankly, wasn’t looking too great. The potato chips were unremarkable, and the vegetables, as you can see above, looked … well, past their prime, to say the least.
But then something possessed me to take a bite of one of those carrots … and I felt really, really stupid. I should have known better.
Turns out those pieces of carrot and broccoli were pickles—tart, vinegary pickles. And it turns out that those pickles served as a palate-cleanser, of sorts, that helped make subsequent bites of that sandwich sing.
Before a pickle, a bite of the sandwich was good, but dominated by bacon, with the other flavors well in the background. After a bite of pickle, the pesto jumped front and center, with the basil bright and floral. The fontina’s sweetness also came forward, and the bacon moved from being the only star to being one of the three ingredients on the sandwich marquee.
This visit to Clementine was my first, and it sure won’t be my last. The café part offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the gourmet-marketplace part offers all sorts of goodies, including a pasta bar, refrigerated foods (the soups got my attention), a deli and a patisserie that’ll add a half-inch to your waistline just by looking at it.
Who could have known that among all these great foods, some rough-looking pickles would be so important?