Desso’s hits the spot in Jericho


Avery Bliss

Desso’s AKA Jericho Center Country Store

It’s a cold and dreary day, just another one in a string that is life in Vermont. I’m sitting in my house in Jericho, searching for sustenance, when I decide that a sandwich would be perfect just about now. Supplies, however, are limited in the house, forcing me to go farther afield in search of a sandwich.

But then I remember the Jericho Center Country Store, or, as it’s known to us locals, Desso’s. This store has been around since 1807, and stylistically hasn’t changed very much. Aside from the refrigerators and other modern amenities on the inside and the lone gas pump on the outside, this building has changed very little.

So I hop in my car to make the short drive up to the store, which is next to the town green and across from church and the town library, all of which looks properly historic. I park my car on the curved strip of pavement opposite the store, on the edge of the green. It’s late in the afternoon, around five o’clock. Walking up to the store and opening the timeworn door, I look to the side as I enter, seeing the early-1900’s era Coke machine sitting on the porch.

Weaving my way through the narrow aisles of the store, I amble over to the deli counter, which is piled high with the tools of the trade, cookies in paper bags, and a rotating pizza warmer. The woman working the counter is energetic and bubbly, and greets me as soon as I step up to the deli.

I decide to order a roast beef sandwich with bacon, a staple of the sandwich community. A large sandwich, of course, piled high with all the standard veggies, some honey mustard, and some good old sharp cheddar. And with that, she’s off, speedily and efficiently constructing what past experiences have assured me will be a masterpiece.

While she is constructing my sandwich, I walk over to the counter to pay. As a large sandwich that comes standard with bacon, I don’t exactly expect the sandwich to be cheap. At $9.25 before tax and factoring in some additional toppings, to the uninitiated this sandwich had better be worth the price. Upon completion of the sandwich, it’s handed to me wrapped in white butchers paper, sealed with a strip of Scotch tape. And so I’m off to the house, to eat this large sandwich.

Unwrapping the sandwich is quite the task, as the toppings were piled high and plentiful, threatening to spill over the sides. Roughly the size of a footlong, the golden brown hoagie stood about four inches tall.

As for the toppings, to me the standards include lettuce, green pepper, tomato, onion, and cucumber. Dressings are honey mustard and a little bit of mayo, and the only cheese fit to top a sandwich with bacon in it is cheddar.

The first bite is an effort, as I’m not sure I can stretch my mouth open that wide. The bread is thick without being overly dense, and the first taste I get is the sweet tang of the honey mustard mingling with the smoky fat of the bacon. The cucumbers provide a satisfying counterpoint of crunch to the soft denseness of the roast beef.

The roast beef is rare and tender, with the meat a gorgeous pink; the edges have turned that familiar brown color from cooking in the oven. The store gets its deli meats and cheeses from Boar’s Head, and it really shows in the overall quality of the sandwich. Boar’s Head roast beef is “coated with salt, pepper, garlic and dehydrated horseradish root then slow roasted,” according to the ingredient list on their website. Every bite of this succulent cow is a little slice of heaven that goes perfectly with the crispy bacon.

In the midst of all the softness of the bread, beef and veggies, there is the crunch of crisp bacon. Yet, despite the crunchiness of the bacon, the fat manages to melt away, leaving me craving more. The sandwich is so large and filling I have to force myself to eat the rest, as I had paid quite the sum for this food. I have to take a break in between halves.

There is a reason that I keep coming back to this store, time and again, for my sandwiches, and it isn’t just because I live close by. I have sampled across the board of their sandwiches, from the roast beef and bacon, to the Vermonter, which is a Panini stuffed with sweet ham, apple slices, honey mustard, Vermont cheddar, tomato and onion, to a multitude of their other sandwiches.

Special sandwiches at the country store are named after things familiar to local Vermonters. The Bentley, which is turkey, bacon, ranch, tomato, onion, green pepper, pickle and cheddar in a hot Panini, is named for famous Jericho resident Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, maybe the Mansfield, Farmboy, or Harvest Panini will satisfy your hunger for a hot Panini.

And if, for some reason, large sandwiches won’t satisfy you, don’t fear. Pizza, burgers, tenders, and more are behind the deli counter. Want a taste of some fresh poutine without going to Canada? Desso’s has both regular and sugar shack poutine, which is fries, covered in Vermont maple syrup, cheddar cheese curds, and bacon bits.

Quality sandwiches of such proportions are hard to find, and relatively cheap ones are even harder. For anyone who wishes to have a quality sandwich and a taste of authentic small town Vermont goodness, Jericho Center Country Store is the place to go.