Sandwich of the Week: Turkey Crunch in the San Fernando Valley
One of the eternal challenges of Los Angeles dining is sussing out those little places tucked into strip malls and building lobbies. So easy to drive by, the hidden gems aren't always marked by a Pink's-sized line out front nor do many places get the advantage of foot traffic that other urban eateries do. Partly because of its nook-like location and partly because it's in the Valley, Nuts 'n Berries is one of those places that you'd likely not know about unless you frequented that stretch of Ventura Boulevard.
There are maybe two tables inside and a few tables just outside the doors of the office building it's set in, so it's fair to say that the café, which is only open until 5 p.m., is primarily a takeout place. Its focus on fresh, organic ingredients is not unique to the LA food scene, but its creative roster of sandwiches sets it apart.
"Be good to yourself" is the Nuts 'n Berries motto, and there's one particular sandwich that fulfills it perfectly — it's wholesome, light, and satisfying. But it's the curious construction of the Turkey Crunch that creates its appeal: sliced turkey and Provolone with a layer of whole raw cashews, a smattering of dried cranberries, julienned carrots, and a double smear of light, zesty basil pesto.
Best served on multigrain, the Turkey Crunch has a great range of textural elements, from crunchy and dry to tender and moist, as well as that whole savory-sweet combo that can be hard to balance. The cranberries provide the sweet but with tartness, and the basil pesto is so green and fresh tasting, it pulls the whole thing together. I love the idea of adding whole nuts to a sandwich — it reminds of me crushing potato chips into a hoagie when I was kid — but this version is guilt-free and a bit more grown-up.
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