Chicken Salad Sandwich at Bergey’s What to Sing About – The Virginian-Pilot
I am a big fan of chicken salad and all its variations.
My grandmother, who raised me from childhood, made a wonderful simple chicken salad with large chunks of diced bird, thinly sliced celery, and a simple seasoning of salt and pepper. In the late 1990s and early 2000s when I owned my catering business, An Entertaining Idea, my chicken salad was the best seller.
In my version, I simmer the bird with lots of aromatics, pulling the white and dark bits into fine threads. A vinaigrette of mayonnaise and seasonings, including a hint of curry, dresses the chicken, celery and onion.
But I’m open-minded. Mix grapes? OKAY. Add chopped pecans? Kudos to my books. I like to try different kinds of different places, and I loved the traditional classic variety that I recently enjoyed sandwiched at one of the area’s true culinary gems, Bergey’s Breadbasket.
Now, before any eagle-eyed reader who knows what I’ve written about mayonnaise in the past wonders if I’ve gone to the dark side, let me explain.
The only chicken salad I’m not a fan of is the one with too much mayonnaise. There are foods I don’t like, but there’s one I despise, and that’s mayo – when used as a condiment, or as the base of a salad dressing or sauce. But just enough to tie a dish together like a chicken salad, adding texture but not taste, I can enjoy it as an ingredient.
THE EAT: SANDWICH WITH HOMEMADE CHICKEN SALAD, WHOLE, $8.29
Many people think of Bergey’s Breadbasket, the bucolic farmhouse, for their sweets. Their delicious ice cream, hand scooped into crispy cones, is hard to beat, even in the winter.
And the pies – don’t get me started on the pies. Peaches are in season now, but later in the year I’ll order an apple or a pumpkin. And the classic Amish fly shoo is a year-round favorite.
Then there are the fruitcakes at Christmas, and all the cookies, muffins and more.
But they also have a deli, with a short menu of wonderful sandwiches, all offered on fresh bread.
On a recent summer day when the temperature was hovering around the 100 degree mark, my partner Douglas and I stopped for a light and refreshing lunch, and we were immediately drawn to the chicken salad sandwich home.
In the mix: whole chicken breast, grapes and celery in a special sweet vinaigrette, served with lettuce, tomato and red onion on wheat. The salad ends up a sunny yellow hue, likely due to the dressing ingredients.
All the components together for a perfect dish. The chicken was cut into good sized pieces, and it was tender and moist. There was just enough raisins and celery in the mix to add texture and flavor, while still allowing the bird to be the star. And that special sweet dressing tied it all together.
It’s not overly sweet, but the kick it adds plays well with the other ingredients and is a big part of what makes chicken salad addictive. There’s also a nice underlying twang, bringing some extra elements to the party.
The bread the sandwich is served on is soft and supple, and provides an excellent platform for the generous amount dropped on top. Crisp lettuce, sweet tomato and sharp onion add extra interest.
As a side, I ordered the Amish Macaroni Salad, priced at $1.99. The macaroni was tender and the chopped vegetables including celery and onion gave it some texture as a contrast. They should use the same special sweet sauce that they use on the chicken salad to bind the macaroni together because the result is a similar shade and has a similar underlying flavor profile. It was amazing.
The sandwich is also available in half for $4.59. If you want to serve the chicken salad at home, Bergey’s sells two pounds of entree, along with four sandwich rolls for $27.95.
For dessert, we enjoyed one of the noted sweets at this former dairy farm-turned-deli/bakery (and petting zoo): a carrot cake muffin.
The muffin was dense, rich and decadent. Full of flavor, the cake was accented with baking spices, offset by the creamy cream cheese frosting. I admit it, I licked the paper liner.
THE DRINK: PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH DIET BIRCH BEER, CAN
There’s no alcohol at the Mennonite-run Bergey, but an assortment of non-alcoholic drinks are on offer. I chose a can of Pennsylvania Dutch Diet Birch Beer.
Made since 1936, it has a decidedly old school flavor among sodas. Birch beer, made with birch bark as a base, also tastes similar, but slightly different, to root beer, which is made with sassafras root and bark as a base.
The can was ice cold and welcomed on a hot day. The drink had good appeal with the dishes enjoyed.
Bergey’s Bread Cart is located at 2207 Mount Pleasant Road, Chesapeake. Call 757-546-9225 or visit www.BergeysBreadbasket.com.
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A LA CARTE
Take one Lasagna and Wine Tour of Italy at Pizza Bella Vista. The event starts from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on August 1.
The dinner features three favorite lasagna dishes from different regions of Italy, with wine director Angela Signorelli presenting selected wine pairings with each course. The meal begins with local tomato bruschetta over homemade focaccia and burrata, and ends with olive oil cake and marsala bananas. The cost is $75 per person.
Pizza Bella Vista is located at 927 N. Battlefield Blvd., Chesapeake. Call 757-478-7783 or visit www.PBVPizzeria.com.
Sunday Jazz Brunch Series at Soulivia’s Art + Soul Cafe continues August 3 and 10. Brunch runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays with a live band as the backdrop. The performances, which run from approximately 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., feature different groups.
Soulivia’s Art + Soul Restaurant is located at 141 Hillcrest Parkway, Chesapeake. Call 757-908-2355 or visit www.SouliviasArtAndSoul.com.
Patrick Evans-Hylton [email protected]