The Fall Harvest Series – A Thanksgiving Sandwich! Fresh Turkey, Cranberry Compote, and Focaccia at Atelier Cafe

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Thanksgiving may have come and gone for us here in Canadaland, but that doesn’t mean I – or everyone else – should do away with the traditional Thanksgiving foods.  Things like the roast turkey, the stuffing, the cranberries, the pumpkin and apple desserts, and all the delicious vegetable dishes using potatoes, squashes, beans, and root vegetables.  It’s the fall season, I love the traditional Thanksgiving food with all the trimmings and really, I’m just getting started!  I think we can all enjoy those holiday favourites any time throughout the season and I love finding different interpretations of these classic meals and dishes whether they’re with meat or without, because I have seen some amazing vegetarian and vegan Thanksgiving spreads over the past week!  Regardless of the fact that Thanksgiving happened a week ago, I’m happy to indulge in all the goodness so long as it’s still available and the way I see it, my American friends won’t be celebrating their Thanksgiving for another month so I think it’s a perfect excuse to continue the holiday meal love. 

Enter the Thanksgiving sandwich.  You can think of it as Thanksgiving leftovers, or just Thanksgiving in a neat, delicious sandwich.  I love the sandwiches at Atelier Cafe, and after having my amazing smoked salmon, cream cheese, and guacamole sandwich on sundried tomato focaccia my first timethere, I wanted to eat my way through their menu. 

I noticed there were entree salads listed after the sandwich items on the menu and I smiled when I saw a Thanksgiving inspired one: turkey salad with cranberry compote, guacamole, grape tomatoes, cucumber, and salad greens.  How perfect is that for the Thanksgiving and harvest season?  Cranberries are in season and the turkey fits the bill quite nicely.  And the guacamole is just a delicious added bonus.  I hesitated when it sunk in that the menu item was a salad though.  I like salad, but I really wanted it as a sandwich.  Being the charmer that I am (or so I’d like to think), I sweetly asked if I could have the salad as a sandwich and the server was extremely nice and told me it wouldn’t be a problem at all.  Score!

Piled high on crunchy toasted focaccia bread was my Thanksgiving meal in a sandwich.  Thick wedges of roasted turkey, sweet and juicy cranberry compote, juicy grape tomatoes and cucumber sliced in half, and a leafy layer of spring mix greens.  This sandwich was fabulous.  Sandwich-loving Joey Tribbiani fabulous.  The cranberry compote was a wonderful complement with its sweetness and fruitiness.  Before I ever had compote, I had no idea what the difference was between that and jam.  I sighed in exasperation whenever I heard the term because I just thought the term was being used as a synonym for jam.  You know, a fancy French word that we unnecessarily use to take the place of the same thing in English so we can feel like we have air of sophistication.  To my relief, not so. 

Although compote is indeed a French word, compote is not jam.  Aside from having a little less sugar content than jam, compote, in this context, is made by boiling whole or chopped fruits in water and a little sugar.  The main difference is consistency.*  Compote can sometimes take the form of fruit and syrup, fruit puree, or even as a dessert or drink, whereas jam is much more gelled because of the pectin released from the fruits during the boiling and cooking process.  With the cranberry’s sweetness and tanginess, it added a great dimension of flavour that played off the turkey really well.

I’m a fan of Atelier’s focaccia and their roast turkey for this sandwich was amazing.  Although turkey is such a star and staple in Thanksgiving and other holiday meals, so many people complain about its dryness and compare the experience to how one would envision eating paper.  Lucky for me, I’ve had relatively good experiences eating turkey but I know others have either gotten stuck with the bone dry variety or the dripping, greasy parts that aren’t all that appetizing. 

Not this turkey.  It wasn’t greasy or “juicy” in a gross way, it wasn’t desert dry, and there was plenty of it in the sandwich to my delight.  It had the skin on, the turkey meat was moist and flavourful, and it was cut into nice thick wedge slices.  Turkey sandwiches are one of my favourite kinds of sandwiches and I’m so happy the staff at Atelier were nice enough to turn the salad menu item into a sandwich for me.  In a way, each bite was like a delicious mouthful of Thanksgiving holiday festiveness.  Just without the food coma at the end of the meal.


Source*= Metro website

Atelier Cafe Lounge is located at 510 King St. West, west of Spadina Ave.  They serve both breakfast and lunch during the day and turn into a lounge and nightclub at night.