Bear Market Sandwich Extravaganza: Alexia Four Cheese Tuscan-Style Panini

Dec 10, 2008 at 6:14 pm

This week the Bear Market embarks on a great adventure: the sandwich. Last weekend we bought a stack of frozen grocery store panini and flatbread and stockpiled them in the RFT freezer. Barring theft, we will try out a new one every day this week.

A colleague was concerned about our new frozen panini-eating regimen.

"How many preservatives were in that sandwich?" she asked us Monday afternoon after we sang the praises of the Stouffer's Corner Bistro panini.

We checked the packaging. Some of the ingredients seemed familiar, like chicken and cheese, but indeed there were a lot that appeared to be chemicals. We would not be able to whip up anything that tasted like the Southwest-Style Chicken Panini on our own.

"Um... a lot," we confessed. "But it was only two dollars at Schnucks!"

"I think I'm going to pick up some sandwiches at Dierberg's," our colleague said primly.

She was referring to the Alexia panini, said to be all natural and developed by a gourmet chef. After our beefy misadventure yesterday, those sounded like magic words.

Is this the magic frozen panini? Find out after the jump.

Name: Alexia Tuscan-Style Panini, Four Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes & Basil on Tomato Herb Bread

Cost: $4.99 at Dierberg's. (Also available at Whole Foods.)  It appears preservatives not only make food last longer, they make it cost less. Who knew?

Preparation Time: Two minutes, thirty seconds in the microwave.

Quantity: Why is it that food packaging makes it look like you get much more than you actually do? If you go by the box, you'd think you would get two half-sandwiches. But you would be wrong. You get one half-sandwich. (Photography is a tricky art.) It's still enough to hold you for an afternoon.

Bread: The tomato herb bread is said to grill in the microwave. Like Stouffer's, Alexia also provides a tray for baking and crisping their sandwich, although their tray is not patented. It doesn't really matter. I am fully convinced you will never be able to toast bread in the microwave. Still, the bread is sweet and sturdy and not too chewy.

Filling: This is where the Alexia panini fully earns its $4.99 price tag. Normally the Bear Market feels churlish about paying so much for a frozen sandwich. Today we are converted. The filling was a perfect melding of cheese, tomato and basil (and we don't even like basil), all gooey and melty with the tomatoes evenly scattered so each bite tastes exactly the same. That is the sign of a competently-prepared sandwich. It also smelled delicious, so delicious, in fact, that we forgot we were supposed to photograph it before we ate. The words of our health-conscious colleague echoing in our ears, we checked the ingredients. We could probably duplicate this at home, if we were a competent sandwich-maker.

Note: Also comes in Grilled Steak, Smoked Chicken and Grilled Chicken Pesto. We are not sure what is especially Tuscan about these sandwiches but, then, we've never been to Tuscany.

In short: The Bear Market will be eating this sandwich again -- in moderation -- during the winter when we are too lazy to brave the cold to walk out to our car and drive to the city's best sandwich shops.

- Aimee Levitt