There are those in the culinary world who live by an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. Thankfully, Chef Pete Blohme isn’t one of them.
The “Pete” behind Panini Pete’s in Fairhope is always open to trying new things, even if it means tampering with a classic.
That being said, you won’t confuse Panini Pete’s Muffaletta with the original sandwich from New Orleans. For starters, Panini Pete’s uses slices of sourdough bread instead of the distinctive Sicilian sesame seed bread that signifies the New Orleans original.
There are other differences but there are also similarities.
Panini Pete’s uses sliced mortadella, salami, swiss and provolone cheese and a homemade olive salad. It adds tomato, olive oil and vinegar. The whole sandwich is pressed in a panini press until the outer layer of the sourdough turns golden brown.
The result is a sandwich that definitely reminds you of the classic muffaletta but is different enough to be its own thing. It’s also great enough to make the Alabama Tourism Department’s list of 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die.
“It is a great sandwich and I’m happy to have it on the list,” Blohme said. “It’s very list-worthy and it is a delicious sandwich.”
It’s an example of the kind of food Blohme set out to make when he opened his Fairhope restaurant 14 years ago.
“With my background, I wanted to make everything great, fresh, from scratch and bring some new flavors that weren’t that popular at the time but I knew they were going to be delicious,” he said.
Mission accomplished, Pete.