The Big Apple and The Pope Sandwich

We made a trip Monday to NYC for a Fox News Live show about papal themed foods. Rumors in DC is currently featuring my creation – The Pope Sandwich – as a special to honor the visit from Pope Francis. Owner Dick Tolbert is donating some proceeds to Catholic Charities meal programs. Father Ken Gill and his friends at St. Matthews are supporting the promotion as well. We started it last Wednesday and by Thursday afternoon I was speaking with a Fox producer about plans to make the sandwich in NYC Monday , two days ago.

So after an agonizing delay in transit, my Amtrak train arrived at 11:00 AM and we needed a quick cab ride to arrive at the Fox Studios by 11:15. Everyone there was friendly and helpful, especially since I couldn’t figure how to use the elevator to reach the 14th floor. I felt like Gomer Pyle attempting to work a particle accelerator – they have no buttons inside, just a keyboard in the lobby to punch in your floor number; the elevator letter is then displayed and you enter that elevator and it automatically takes you to your selected floor – cool but confusing in the frenzy to get there on time.

We immediately encounter DC connections – on site producer Sky McCarthy is a daughter of local newswoman Lark McCarthy and host Ali Rosen’s husband is a G-Town grad. The segment went very well and all the crew enjoyed the sandwiches I prepared for the show. anyone can access the video on under the Lifestyle heading and scrolling for the papal themed food video, which runs about five minutes. It will be highlighted throughout the weekend on the website.

I should describe the sandwich: Chimichurri Marinated Grilled Chicken Breast with Melted Provolone and Arugula on a Ciabatta Roll with Holy Land Relish served with Potato Chips – the flavors reflect the Pope’s makeup with a mix of South America, Italy and the Holy Land.

Now it was time to relax in Manhattan and Marie and I headed straight to the restored Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station for a lunch of oysters, clams, scallops and beer – great food and memories of many trips there for me in the 1970’s and 1980’s. With more time to kill before returning to DC we decided to try Bobby Vans on E. 54th and see how it compares to our DC branch and top bartenders Cochise and Mike. Bartender Connor is a solid pro and kept our glasses full while providing interesting conversation and local color. He has been there three years and seemed to have a firm grip on the situation – as well as attracting an interesting group of regulars. He also informed me that my standard drink – Tito’s, Soda and splash of OJ – is called a “Sully” there. Most bartenders in DC don’t need a name to make my preferred drink – they just make it and ask questions later. However, I may use Sully’s name on occasion and discuss it with him when we meet someday.

I know DC is considered a big city but New York is still amazing and truly the Big Apple. I’m trying to run interference on the sidewalk for Marie to walk behind me – it was lunchtime in midtown. Of course Connor is lamenting how dead the streets are because of the Jewish holiday and Marie and I are barely able to negotiate the crowded sidewalk. But he’s been there seven years now after moving from Wisconsin and has become a real New Yorker – he lives across the river in Sunnyside and makes it to work quicker than the trip from Old Town to downtown DC in rush hour. So Washington has that dubious quality over Manhattan, while their Bobby Vans locations outnumber ours by 3-1.

So, to summarize we left DC at 6:20 AM and returned at 11:00 PM – in between we did a TV show, had lunch, drank some happy hour cocktails while wagering online on Kentucky Downs races and took a few cabs around town. Pretty good road trip.

I’m supposed to do some additional Pope Sandwich promos this week – maybe the local news channels – but will try to write a post next week about our Saratoga trip over Labor Day. I will be signing and selling my book at the Celtic Festival in Shirlington Saturday afternoon and the following weekend at the Baltimore Book Festival in the Inner Harbor.

Stop by Rumors for a Pope Sandwich and Walk With Francis.

Chef Soper


Road Trip

I tried to put a lot into the last post since we are going to Saratoga for five days with the Pony Players Party Express – Vinny Baretta, Boomer, Bill Valis, and  Tom Markey make up the main group for the Labor Day weekend. We may see guest appearances by Danny Scalurati, Tony Kotler, Ron Beal,  Mike Burke and wife Martha. Too much going on to craft a coherent post – hope to have some new material from the events this weekend.

Chef Soper