The overriding question is this: How much sport can a man follow? Right now Chelsea Football Club and the Toronto Maple Leafs rely on me. So does the England cricket team and Andy Murray. So do I want to clamber slowly back onto the Blue Jays bandwagon and see where it takes me this year? Who knows what wandering path it will trundle along, what emotional landscape it will pass through? I was a serious follower 20 years ago, but…
Meanwhile, to help everyone make up his or her mind, the bench coaches at Oliver & Bonacini have come up with something delightful, a sandwich to honour the Blue Jays and especially knuckleballer R. A. Dickey. They’re calling it the Knuckle Sandwich. Chef Markus Bestig (who goes wherever in the organisation he is needed and is currently at Canteen in the TIFF Lightbox building) invented it and I had a chance to taste one this afternoon.
Today’s date didn’t go unnoticed as I made my way to Canteen but the Knuckle Sandwich turned out to be real – and undeniably delicious. Chef Bestig begins with a big, soft, lightweight, yellow hot dog bun from Champs (it has a fine ballpark look to it). Into this he piles a tiny bit of lettuce, some sauerkraut and a sweet jumble of smoked pork hock and pulled pork shoulder cooked with apple and onion and a hint of caraway. The treat is finished with crispy fried onions and a lot of good hot mustard made with apple and Mill St. porter beer. That tangy mustard is forward in the sandwich’s flavour when you bite, followed by the sweetness of the tender meat, the soft, moist crunch of the ’kraut and the crisper crunch of the onions. It’s all surprisingly delicately textured and yummy. The Knuckle Sandwich will be on the menu at Canteen whenever the Jays have a home game. It costs $8 and comes with a $5 20-oz tankard of Mill St. Tankhouse ale – an ideal match.
But the link to the Jays doesn’t stop there. Chef Bestig, egged on by Chef Anthony Walsh, will also create a dish at Canteen to “honour” visiting teams. When the Red Sox come to town on April 5th, for instance, that dish will be Jerk Chicken – in homage to Boston’s new manager. Too funny.
I guess I will have to climb onto the bandwagon now that I’ve tasted the Knuckle Sandwich. I still have my Ernie Whitt shirt somewhere, I think, and a baseball signed by Jeff Musselman.