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Larry Blake's Salmagundi Sandwich

From: Joy  
Sent: Friday, October 20, 2017 7:48 PM
Subject: Looking for recipe--salamagundi, Larry Blake's, Davis, California

In the 1970s in Davis, California (about 75 miles east of San Francisco), there was a restaurant called 
Larry Blake's; there was also one in Berkeley, California.  I'm not sure when these establishments closed, 
but I believe they had a loyal following and disappointed fans when they closed.

One of the popular entrees on the menu was an item named "salamagundi," although I may not have it spelled 
correctly.  What I can remember is that it was about the tastiest sandwich I'd ever had...inside a crusty 
French roll was the most incredible filling...probably ground veal with a mixture of so many delicious 
ingredients--completely impossible to describe but wonderfully delectable to recall.

I know I'm not providing sufficient details, but there might be somebody in northern California who recalls 
this awesome sandwich.

Many thanks...Joy 

Hello Joy,

This search turned out to be a bit more complex than it might seem at first blush.

Larry Blake’s restaurant, with a basement bar called “Rathskellar’s” opened in 1940 on Telegraph in Berkeley. It became so popular that a second one was opened in Davis, which later became known as “Brewster House.” Both locations have been closed for several years. This is what “localwiki” says about the one in Davis:

Larry Blake's Brewster House was a restaurant in an old shingled dwelling in the 1970s, a branch of a Berkeley business. The basement was called “The Rathskeller,” and prior to its opening students were invited to write their names on the ceiling with candle smoke. The place was known for its beer and its "Blakeburgers."

I could not find any mention of “salmagundi” or a “salmagundi sandwich” connected with either location. I did find that a lot of folks would like to have Larry Blake’s salad dressing recipe, which he is said to have never given out but once, and then only to a Mafia guy who forced him to write down the recipe at gunpoint. Blake said that he developed the salad dressing recipe while serving in the Army.

As for “Salmagundi Sandwiches”, I found two recipes with that name (see below), but neither had any connection to Larry Blake’s. There are also recipes for “Salmagundi Salad,” an old British dish that’s said by some to be the forerunner of “Cobb Salad” and “Caesar Salad”, but it does not appear to be something from which one would make a sandwich. There is a recipe for that salad at: Ancestors in Aprons

The word “salmagundi” is derived from a French word, and simply means something like “a mixture of things”, similar to the meaning of “potpourri” or "olio." The only link that I could find between dishes called “salmagundi” is that they all seem to call for salad dressing, even the sandwiches.

I will post this for reader input, but even if someone recalls the sandwich, it’s unlikely that they would know the recipe, particularly if it calls for Larry Blake’s special salad dressing.

The one hope that I can offer you would involve you contacting Chef Richard Ortiz, who worked with Head Chef Irving "Herb" Finger (deceased) as Sous Chef at Larry Blake's Brewster House in Davis, California. Since he was Chef Finger's Sous Chef, Chef Ortiz may know something about the “Salmagundi Sandwich” recipe. Chef Ortiz is now Head Chef and owner of The North Shore Café On Big Bear Lake in Fawnskin, California.
See: North Shore Cafe
If you have any success, please let me know.


Salmagundi Sandwich 

To 1/2 cupful of thick mayonnaise, add 2 tablespoonfuls of whipped cream, 
1 dessertspoonful of grated horseradish and 2 of finely chopped cucumbers. 
Spread this mixture on bread, then a layer of finely chopped rare beef and 
cover with more salad dressing. 
Salmagundi Sandwich from ”Kentucky Receipt Book” By Mary Harris Frazer

Have thin slices of bread toasted, trim off the crust, butter and spread
with potted ham; then minced pickle cut in thin slices; cooked asparagus 
tips at each corner, and slices of chicken breast. Cover with a boiled 
salad dressing; garnish with shredded olives. Serve cold.

lt. Robert E Lee Stuffed Mushrooms

-----Original Message----- 
From: Christine 
Sent: Saturday, October 21, 2017 8:12 PM
Subject: Stuffed Mushrooms from Robert E Lee Restaurant in St Louis

Hell Uncle Phaedrus,

For the past month I have been visiting my brother.  I live on the east 
coast.  He lives on the west coast.  He is 12 years older than I am, so by 
the time I was 5 years old he had joined the Marines and moved away from 
home.  We are both in our senior years now and I am really enjoying getting 
to know each other.

Anyhow, about 3 days ago Bob got a craving for stuffed mushrooms.  At the 
moment he is working on batch number four... still searching for a great 
recipe that satisfies.  No success yet.

Earlier today he was reminiscing about the stuffed mushrooms he used to get 
near the arch in St. Louis at the Robert E Lee steamboat restaurant.  It 
turns out that this was a restaurant that we both stopped at as we made road 
trips across the United States.   I immediately googled the restaurant and 
learned the restaurant closed around 2006, and the boat was destroyed by 
fire a few years later.  I thought that surely I could google Robert E Lee 
Menu, stuffed mushrooms and find a recipe or a copy of their menu with a 
description of this dish.   No such luck.  I can't even tell you what they 
were stuffed with... but both of us have good memories of those stuffed 

So here I am...

Thanks for taking the time to read this... and good luck!


Hi Christine,

I didn't have any success at all with this. I am familiar with the "lt. Robert E. Lee" riverboat, as I did a search for the "vegetable chowder" from there a few years ago. See: 4-21-2014

I searched again today for your request, but I had zero success. I could not find even a mention of their stuffed mushrooms anywhere. I'll post this for reader input.


My Bill of Fare 5

Breakfast is my favorite meal, except at dinnertime. The breakfast food that I miss the most since moving to New England is grits. (You knew I was going to say that...) Home fries and hash browns are fine. I love 'em. But hot grits with salt and pepper and butter are special. Some people eat them like a cereal and sweeten them with sugar, or even mix syrup with them. I like them as a vegetable - savory - with salt and pepper and butter - no cheese. Add some scrambled eggs, crispy bacon or sausage or ham, and toast or biscuits, and that's a good breakfast. I prefer a savory breakfast of bacon and eggs and toast over pastries and things that you eat drowned in syrup. Here, I have hash browns or home fries to replace the grits. Yes, our supermarket has "instant grits" - a poor substitute for the real thing.

We don't cook big breakfasts at home. One of the great things about traveling is that you get to eat big restaurant breakfasts, but breakfast in restaurants on the road can be unreliable. Scrambled eggs in some places are soft, fluffy and delicious, but in others they're chewy and flat. Sausage is really unpredictable. I've been served tasty sausage patties that were even better than Jimmy Dean's and breakfast link sausages that were even better than that, but I've also been served sausages that were not quite edible. Even bacon can be a mystery, too. Sometimes you get tasty, crisp bacon, and sometimes you get tough, chewy pieces with little flavor. Cracker Barrel and IHOP are generally safe bets if you don't want to take a chance. The best breakfasts that I've had, though, were on some of the occasions that I did take a chance and ate at small local places. However, so were the worst ones.

There are many kinds of biscuits, with names like "beaten biscuits", "drop biscuits", and even "cat-head biscuits." They're all good if they're hot from the oven, but I like big, fluffy baking powder biscuits best. They're good with gravy, particular "sausage gravy", but the best way to eat them is hot, with butter and sorghum molasses. They used to be my only exception to the "nothing drowned in syrup" thing. When I was a child, I ate them with Karo white syrup, but later I switched to sorghum molasses. Delicious. I also like to split and butter biscuits and make a sandwich of them with a sausage patty. I used to spread jam or jelly as a dressing on my biscuit and sausage "sandwich," and it would be even more tasty. Another exception to the preference for a savory breakfast. Now, of course, I don't eat either syrup or jelly or molasses with biscuits, only butter.

How do you spell "barbecue?" Barbeque? Bar-B-Q? BBQ? I think that "barbecue" is likely the original way, since the word is said to have come from the Spanish "barbacoa", which in turn came from a similar Native American word. The other spellings appear to have come from imaginative sign painters.

When I was a child in North Mississippi, I remember having barbecue sandwiches at a place in Tupelo called "Johnnie's Smoke House." Johnnie's is still there, with a couple of smokers out back of the restaurant. When we lived in that area, my Dad kept goats, and once in a while, he would take a young goat over to Johnnie's to be smoked. Quite tasty, as I recall. So were Johnnie's pork barbecue sandwiches. Johnnie's seems to be more celebrated these days for its dough-burgers and for the fact that Elvis ate cheeseburgers there way back when.

I honestly can't recall any barbecue restaurants on the Gulf Coast during the time we lived there. If there were any, they weren't on any of the main roads. I did eat barbecue sandwiches, but I got them at various drive-ins that had them on their menus. Those places didn't do their own barbecuing, so I suspect that they must have used a frozen or canned barbecue product.

I can't really say that I "miss" Mississippi style barbecue since moving to Maine. There are some darned good barbecue places here. Sometimes I think the owners of them must have moved here from the South. The thing is, even though they serve good barbecue and coleslaw and beans, they serve cornbread with it that is sweet! I don't recall barbecue restaurants in the South typically serving cornbread, anyhow. That, like fried catfish on the menu, is something that I've only noticed in Northern bbq restaurants. It seems to me that Southern barbecue places served white bread, or Texas Toast with bbq. I guess that Northern barbecue restaurants are trying to offer a variety of things that they consider "Southern," including catfish, cornbread, and the country music that's usually on their sound systems. They're almost the only places here that serve fried catfish, so I won't complain too much about the cornbread.

It's a mystery to me that Mark Twain omitted barbecue from his "little bill of fare." He must have eaten barbecue in St. Louis or Memphis or New Orleans. I know he couldn't get it in Europe, so why didn't he list it? Was he a Southerner who didn't like barbecue? Is there such a thing as a Southerner who doesn't like barbecue?

If you want recipes for any of these things, e-mail me.


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