Ploughman’s lunch

Plouhgman's lunch ©DPaul Brown

My company recently moved offices. On the one hand, this is a good thing, as our old digs were in a dowdy, sad building on the wrong side of the tracks in Redwood City. Our new office is more modern, cleaner, lighter and the roof doesn’t leak. It’s in Belmont, under the looming grey-green towers of Oracle. The grounds are pleasant enough, and the commute is a few miles shorter for me. All good.

Nablo09.90x33However, the only source of food that is within walkable distance is a small cafe in the building that managed to fall out of my good graces on the second day of our occupancy. Aside from the inconvenience of having to get in the car to forage for lunch, I also don’t know where’s any good. It took months to get the lay of the land in Redwood City, and I just don’t have the time to take on the trial-and-error process of vetting restaurants throughout Belmont and San Carlos.

It’s just as well, really. DPaul and I have been on something of a fiscal diet of late, and the less money I spend on lunch the better. Normally our style of brown-bagging involves bringing leftovers from the previous night’s dinner or perhaps the occasional sandwich, but very frequently we assemble a nice ploughman’s lunch.

Classic English pub grub, a ploughman’s comprises a hearty hunk of rustic bread, a good wedge of cheese and some pickles, and then commonly accompanied with some crisp apple, a slab of pâté and perhaps a nice stein of beer. These would typically be local fare as well, especially good sharp cheddar or Stilton for the cheese. We sub in some nice Pt. Reyes Farmstead Cheddar or Achadinha Capricious.

Our fridge is generally full to bursting with housemade pickles, and we throw in whatever seasonal fruit we’ve got. We get liberal with the components, throwing in some pita and hummus in lieu of rustic loaf and butter, and a few slices of salami or prosciutto will not be left unwanted.

This is exactly how I like to eat; I am generally more of a nibbler and grazer. I love the play of the richness of the cheese and the sharpness of pickle, the blandness of bread and the sweetness of fruit. It is at once deconstructed and whole and satisfying.

  • Julie

    That would be Justin’s dinner every night if he had his druthers. Thanks for the lunchspiration!

  • bringing your lunch is great, no matter your fiscal concerns. I love the wonder of opening a lunch I made myself, enjoying it hours after I groggily put it together, and making my co-workers swoon.
    Hey, how about starting a lunch bunch at work? You take turns bringing in lunch for the group? Could be fun! And you could use a crock pot 😉

  • Yeah, Redwood Shores isn’t exactly the friendliest food place, especially if you don’t want to get in your car. I found that I could walk to Steve’s Deli/Cafe, which has really good specialty sandwiches (yesterday I had the Tuesday special marinated portobello, sundried tomato, caper, and provolone sandwich on sourdough), from the office.
    I know you’ve already gone out and made the trip to Marina Foods in Foster City — take me with you next time! The pho (cash only, if I recall), the Chinese bakery, and the Korean restaurant are all good. TapEx, not so much. There’s better pearl tea to be had than at Tapioca Express.
    San Mateo has lots of good Japanese food — Santa Ramen is famous among ramen-loving Yelpers, Himawari is also good for ramen, and Hotaru is very good as well. I haven’t been to Sweet Breams, the taiyaki shop, but I love taiyaki (hooray for fish-shaped pastries!). Izakaya Mai is another good place for Japanese food in downtown San Mateo. There’s also another Japanese supermarket in downtown San Mateo, and there’s a Nijiya just off the 92 ramp on El Camino.
    (Wow, is it obvious that I was a video game tester the last time I was in the area or what?)

  • Wow Jeanne, you are a major font of knowledge. I also just noticed there’s a taco truck at the other end of Shoreway I’d like to check out. And Lisa took me to a decent sushi joint over near EA.

  • I’m a nibbler at heart and love this kind of a meal. It looks so pretty too! : )

  • Don’t know about “Poughman’s Lunch” but we’ve always had “Peasant’s Lunch” that consists of five parts: soup, bread, fruit, cheese and beer. Historically, the beer is essential.

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    How interesting. I've never heard that. And I also think a nice quaff of ale is mandatory, for certain.