I’ve been blessed with travel opportunities that have taken me across Europe. Without question, my favorite place I’ve visited is Czech Republic.
There’s something special about Czechia and its capital city, Prague. Every time I visit, I feel the appreciation of hard-earned freedom pulsating in the streets: the Czechs are a people who, as recently as 1989, experienced the deprivations of totalitarian communist rule.
And they haven’t forgotten.
I’m unaware of any Czech heritage I may possess. But the pull I feel towards the country, and my heritage from the countries surrounding Czech Republic—coupled with the countless boundary changes that have occurred in that region over recent centuries—have convinced me that there must be at least one drop of Czech blood in my veins.
(Or maybe I just want it that badly.)
Prague and Brno
My most recent travels to Czech Republic took me to both Prague and Brno, a city I likely would not have visited had life’s circumstances not guided me there.
And I’m glad they did. Brno is a beautiful city with a rich history, still largely undiscovered by tourists.
English fluency is not common in this university town. I took it as the highest compliment whenever passersby assumed I was a Brno native, and greeted me with a “dobrý den” (good day). Not long into my roughly four month stay in Brno, I was able to return these greetings and say “thank you” (děkuji) convincingly enough to get through entire transactions at the grocery store, airport, and restaurants without having to admit I was a tourist. I’m still proud of this simple accomplishment.
The Brno Dean Martin Sandwich
One of the first places I successfully passed as a native was a bakery just outside of the city center. It was lunchtime, and I was excited to see that, amidst the many beautiful sandwiches the bakery offered, there was a vegetarian option.
It was a unique sandwich, to say the least: a brie-like cheese, slivered almonds, arugula, and dried cranberries, all layered on a fresh baguette.
Based on the ingredients, I knew the sandwich would be good. But nothing could have prepared me for how good. After that first bite, I knew that Brno had just introduced me to my new favorite sandwich.
My recreation of that Brno sandwich strays very little from the original. The brie and the arugula remain the same, but I substitute dried cherries for the dried cranberries. And instead of almonds, I use toasted pine nuts or cashew pieces.
You’re probably wondering how I worked Dean Martin into this sandwich name.
I’ll tell you.
It’s all in the bread.
As much as I love sandwiches, I do have one complaint: with most sandwiches, the bread is too thick, and over-powers the textures and flavors of the other sandwich components.
Apparently Dean Martin wasn’t a fan of too much bread either. According to Dino’s daughter, Deana, her father would always:
“pull the soft center out of the bread and only eat the crust. It’s something I do to this day because Dad once told me, ‘If you don’t eat the middle of the bread, you won’t get fat.'”
Following Dino’s lead, I take the center out of my sandwich bread. Whether a French baguette or a ciabatta roll, I slice the bread into thirds, and omit that middle third from the sandwich. It’s amazing what a difference this small adjustment of bread ratio makes.
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Make The Brno Dean Martin Sandwich
If you’re looking for a classy sandwich that’s delicious any time of year; one you can eat alone or impress guests with, look no further. Make my Brno Dean Martin sandwich.
A Few Things
Don’t worry about cutting the bread into perfect thirds. It’s near impossible. Just do your best and don’t worry if the slices are uneven. Take a look here at another of my favorite sandwiches that takes the bread center out.
I like to sprinkle a little finishing salt over the sandwich components before putting the last piece of bread over the top. Here’s my favorite finishing salt, fleur de sel, on Amazon [aff. link]. You can also find fleur de sel in my Amazon store.
Use whatever brie you prefer for this sandwich, but my favorite is Petite Breakfast Brie from Marin French Cheese Co., the oldest continually operating cheese maker in the United States. You can find this mild, easily sliceable brie at Trader Joe’s.
The Brno Dean Martin Sandwich
- 1 18 oz baguette, cut in thirds
- 4 oz brie cheese, thinly sliced
- ½ apple, thinly sliced (about 12 thin slices), Cosmic Crisp, Fuji, or Granny Smith apples work well
- 1 Tbsp butter, softened
- 24 dried cherries, (I use Trader Joe's dried bing cherries)
- ¼ cup pine nuts or cashew pieces, toasted (about 27-36 nuts total)
- arugula, (substitute spinach if you don't like arugula)
- fleur de sel, for sprinkling
Toast the nuts
- If you haven't already, toast the nuts in a skillet over medium heat until lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes.
Cut the baguette
- Cut the baguette into thirds. (One baguette will make three sandwiches.)
- Rather than cut each of the three baguette pieces in half, use the photo above, and cut each baguette piece into thirds, lengthwise. I prefer to hold the bread vertically for this step.
- We'll use the top and bottom slices of each baguette for the sandwiches. Save the middle third of each baguette for later use.
Compile the sandwiches
- Lightly butter the top and bottom pieces of each baguette.
- Place a generous amount of arugula on the bottom piece of each baguette.
- Next, layer 3-4 apple slices over the arugula.
- Place 3-4 slices of brie over the apples.
- Now put 2 dried cherries on top of each slice of brie.
- Next, scatter the nuts between the dried cherries. (I use 8-12 nuts per sandwich.)
- Last, sprinkle a pinch of fleur de sel over everything, and place the top half of each baguette over the sandwich filling.
Serve and enjoy
- Serve the sandwiches alone, with your favorite chips, or a salad like this one.