Poached fruit and Brie always go together; it seems to be one of our more popular offerings,” says Lola’s owner and executive chef Ed Kowalski, who also owns the highly touted restaurant, Crave, up the street (read the Crave restaurant review here). What’s the recipe for this panini’s sweet success? The pears are poached overnight in a blend of whole cinnamon, star anise, local honey, red wine, orange peel, and bay leaf until they’re soft. They’re sliced to order, placed on whole-grain ciabatta bread, then topped with sliced Brie, balsamic reduction, baby arugula, and microgreens. “We try to hit all the flavors — salty, sweet, spicy, and sour — in whatever we make,” says Kowalski, whose cute eatery under the Walkway Over the Hudson was named Best Sandwich Shop by our editors last year.
“With this sandwich, you get the savory cheese, sweetness and spice in the fruit, a peppery flavor from the arugula, and an acidity from the balsamic,” he says. “Once that cheese melts, it just holds everything together to give you those flavors all at once.” In the summer months, there is a substitute version of sandwich when the pears are no longer in season, but we think this perfectly poached panini is worth the wait.