For people who eat sandwiches and who’ve spent time in Williamsburg or Charlottesville, two words are apt to cause rhapsodies of gastric nostalgia: “house dressing.” The Cheese Shop in Williamsburg and Take It Away in Charlottesville, both started by Tom and Mary Ellen Power (who were also responsible for the Cheese Shop in Hidenwood that I remember growing up), both feature deceptively simple sandwiches (home baked bread, meat, cheese, limited vegetables including sprouts, cucumbers, and recently, sundried tomatoes), and both feature the also-deceptively-named house dressing.
I’ve tried to create a version of this over the years (as have others), and came up with something I liked rather a lot based on a recipe posted on Food.com (which itself credits Epicurious, so who knows?):
- 1 cup mayonnaise (use the good stuff)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar (2 packets of Sugar-in-the-Raw)
- fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
Place mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, sugar and pepper in a blender or food processor. Start at a low speed and graduate up to a higher speed. You may need to turn off the blender once or twice and press out air the bubbles with a spatula to get it all blended well. Transfer the mix to a bowl. Stir in the 1 teaspoon of mustard seed. Put in a covered container and store in refrigerator overnight, to let flavors marry. After 24 hours, the spread is ready to use. Use as spread or dip for sandwiches. Enjoy!
The taste is quite good, especially on turkey sandwiches at Thanksgiving, but it’s not quite right. I didn’t realize the disconnect until I was able to visit Take It Away again a few times for reunions and grab another taste.
Fortunately, the point is rendered moot by the new availability of House Dressing in the jar, over the Internet. I’ll wait until cooler weather to order it and check it out, but maybe our long nightmare is over!