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I can’t think of a single person, living or dead, who had such terrible eating habits and yet inspired so much copy about his favorite dishes and favorite recipes and his complicated relationship to food. As the Village Voice‘s Robert Sietsema laid out in this well-researched Salon essay, Elvis didn’t like fish or food with bones in it. (He insisted that his fried chicken be served sans bones.) What the King did like was meaty, soft-textured dishes, like meatloaf, sloppy Joes, cheeseburgers, and chopped barbecue pork sandwiches.
Most of these dishes have, at some point, been given the chef treatment or at the very least been accorded the respect they deserve by diners who’ve come to understand the toil that, for example, pitmasters put into their smoked meats. But arguably Elvis’ favorite dish, the one that still lingers in the public imagination some 33 years after his death, has rarely (to mind my at least) been elevated to gourmet status.
Of course, I’m talking about that midnight snack of sheer convenience, the fried peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich.
Firefly chef Daniel Bortnick has assumed the challenge of turning this refrigerator-raid of a sandwich into something worthy of a $11 lunch plate ($12 on the weekend brunch menu). He comes pretty close.
Actually, Bortnick says, his sous chef created the dish with ingredients laying around the kitchen, including bread usually reserved for French toast. “And I loved it,” the chef says.
Firefly prefers to play with the version of the famous sandwich that includes bacon, and I can understand why. Without it, the sandwich has a soft, mushy quality that only babies (and Elvis) could like, depending of course on what kind of bread is used. Firefly’s dish is called The Elvis, and it starts with thick slices of challah. When fried, the bread, with its honeycomb-like crumb, provides an airy crunch that’s pleasant to both the palate and ear.
Pressed between these slices are a thin layer of peanut butter, a simple spread of wildflower honey and maple syrup, caramelized bananas, and some crispy apple wood smoked bacon. Personally, I would have loved more apple wood smoked bacon. Not only would it have supplied even more texture but it would have better balanced out the sugars of the caramelized bananas.
I was very thankful for the pile of french fries on my plate — not only because they helped suppress the raging sweetness on my tongue, but also because they were fine damn, thin and crispy and salty and irrepressibly tasty.