As a kid, my vision of paradise looked like the candy aisle of the local convenience store with an unlimited tab. I dreamed of the day when I would have enough money to go to the 7-Eleven and buy all of the Gobstoppers, Lik-M-Aid and Choco Tacos I could eat, and nobody could stop me. It’s one of life’s cruel ironies that once one has money to buy the candy, one no wants it anymore. My fantasy remains intact, however, but instead of the candy aisle, I imagine eating everything on the shelves at Fromagination. It’s like Disneyworld for food-lovers: everything salty, savory, jarred and cured that your little foodie heart desires. There are even a few candies.
Of course, just as tastes change with maturity, price tags rise accordingly. While it’s easy now to buy Gobstoppers by the crate, I can’t treat Fromagination as a one-stop grocery store and gorge myself on hand-crafted Italian salumi and imported macarons with impunity. Fortunately for the cash-strapped gourmand, they do offer a selection of expertly-curated sandwiches that bring together the best the store has to offer in meats, cheeses and condiments, for a price tag that’s shockingly comparable to what you’d pay for a pedestrian fast food chain sandwich. And its Capitol Square location makes Fromagination’s sandwiches an ideal choice for Concerts on the Square dining.
Walk into Fromagination and it’s instantly obvious you’re not in a typical deli. There’s no glaring overhead fluorescent lighting or gigantic bricks of bright-orange cheddar ready to be sliced. The sandwich counter is tucked away in back of a store that resembles an adorable jewel box, its shelves lined with colorful jars of locally made jams, salsas and relishes. Under wee bell-shaped domes are elf-sized cheese samples, which you will taste at your peril lest you fall rapturously and irretrievably in love with some pricey fromage.
The sandwiches at Fromagination let you dine like a king by combining its own crusty bread with those same fancypants meats and cheeses that lay tantalizingly under glass at the counter. For a mere $7.50, you can get a turkey sandwich that combines Nueske’s smoked turkey breast and crisp lettuce with slabs of creamy brie and a layer of sweet-tart Quince & Apple cranberry relish on a crusty roll studded with sunflower seeds.
Or try a roast beef with red-wine-tinted shallot confit, Swiss cheese and grainy mustard. Or best of all, an Italian salami and provolone on a floury white baguette spread with salty, piquant olive tapenade that is the exact sandwich I imagine myself eating on a train through the Alps after I abandon my family to relive those collegiate backpacking-through-Europe adventures.
If attending the Concerts on the Square this summer, Fromagination’s sandwiches are the perfect gourmet hand-held dinner, conveniently located right across the street from all the action. No ordering ahead is required; the folks at Fromagination are prepared for crowds. If a full sandwich is too much, get a half-sandwich for $4; if you want variety, get four different varieties to share between two people.
Best of all, if your sweet tooth has never truly gone away, Fromagination carries a selection of Gail Ambrosius chocolates for $2.50 apiece for a dessert that’s more sophisticated — and far more delicious — than an entire box of Gobstoppers.