Last week, I was surprised by a visit from to Tom Szebeni, the CEO of Duran Sandwiches with a huge box of his handmade European-style open-faced slices of wonder. I knew I was getting a complimentary taste of his creations, but I never expected that the President himself would walk over from their first U.S. location in NoMad to deliver them. But after talking to him for ten minutes, it made perfect sense. The guy just oozes passion for what he’s doing. He explained to me that he worked on the Budapest version of the reality TV show “Big Brother” for years and used to leave the dark studio (and his 48 monitors showing people stuck in a house doing the most mundane things) to get sandwiches across the street at one of the Duran locations. He wanted something more, though, so he decided to leave TV and spend weeks in the shop learning to make the sandwiches so he could bring them to NYC. He kept emphasizing how this is real food. Food that someone cared about when they made it.
I was like, “Yeah, yeah, I’ve eaten sandwiches before, buddy.” And then I opened the box, and a light shone down from heaven.
They were ~so beautiful~. My friend said they looked mid-century modern. And not only were they gorgeous, but they were all so different and exciting. Shrimp with tomato and lemon, goat cheese with cucumber and olive, Black Forest ham with horseradish cream, Hungarian paprika sausage with pickles and egg. The breads were soft and chewy but had substance enough to hold the toppings without buckling. Everything was so delicate: a subtle smear of cheese under the sausage, a sprinkling of chives over the roast beef.
The hot pepper and egg salad was my favorite because I’m addicted to spice, but the best thing about these sandwiches is that they’re light enough that you don’t have to eat just one. I was able to share several with my friend and nibble at a few more throughout the afternoon without ever feeling heavy or grossly full. I can imagine picking up a box of these before a summer tea party, especially the ones with a spread of cucumber and farmer’s cheese, and letting my lady friends ooh and ahh over how artful they are.
Having taken a trip to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest last fall, these sandwiches transported me back to my time in Europe. They’re like nothing else I’ve seen in NYC, and I feel lucky that I live in a city where I can eat a little slice of the world.
62 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016 (map)