Dreaming of Brian Luscher's Italian Beef

Win, indeed
Win, indeed

Last week while I was watching Antoine Cantarel and Clint Cooper blister flatbreads in the parking lot outside Village Baking Co., Brian Luscher pulled into the lot and jumped out of his car. He was there for the same reason I was, to see if these two characters could conjure something delicious from the dark cavern of a wood burning oven, but Luscher had an extra agenda item. The owner of The Grape recently announced his yet-to-open restaurant on Gaston Avenue. Now he was inquiring about some rolls. I was eavesdropping.

"How about a demi-baguette?" offered Julie Brown. She works for Village Baking Co., too. Luscher said it wasn't right. He said he needed something with a bit more structure and chew. "He needs something that can stand up to being dipped in a giant vat of gravy," I interrupted. I'd heard enough. I knew what he was up to.

Luscher has already turned the pedestrian hot dog on its head. Composed almost entirely of hand-made ingredients (he sources the bun), his take on the Chicago classic stays true to tradition while achieving new heights of hot dog ambrosia. What he serves up at the White Rock Local Farmers Market most weekends looks like a Chicago-style hot dog, but you walk away feeling like you've had a significant culinary experience.

Luscher owed it to Dallas to do the same for Italian beef, and I told him as much. He got this quirky little grin on his face, but wouldn't confirm that he was planning to take on the sandwich. Instead he winked at me. Twice. He even said "wink, wink," while he did it. My heart raced a little.

I thought about freshly made, crunchy giardiniera with a lot of heat. I thought about beef, slowly roasted over a steaming pool of stock and sliced into thin, velvety folds. I thought about the resulting gravy, light but full of beefy flavor, running in rivulets down my arms to my elbows as a single tear cascaded down my cheek.

I thought about asking for a perfect gyro too, but I didn't want to be greedy. One thing at a time, I guess.

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