Thursday, February 26, 2009

Grilled Cheese

Quality grilled cheese has thus far escaped me. The name carries the negative connotation of Kraft Singles and Wonderbread. I can't sleep at night thinking about grilled cheese. Just the name conjures nightmares. I see myself cooking a grilled cheese on the stove top. Chemical odors enter my nostrils- certainly not the kind of pungency I want from cheese. I look out the window for a minute, and the next, the cheese is melting, but along with it, are the chemicals, which far outnumber the actual cheese. A puddle of chemicals forms at the bottom of the pan. The puddle grows until it overflows the pan. I jump back, but the synthetic flavors and colors are onto me. I run away from the stove top, but the puddle follows me. I grab my chef's knife in preparation for an epic battle: Nick versus factory cheese. I take a stab at it, but it overtakes me, virtually forcing itself into my mouth. I'm helpless, screaming in anticipation of what's to come... and then I wake up.
Luckily, I've found a cure. It's called "Red Hawk" and it's from Cowgirl Creamery in California. I had honestly never thought of using washed ring cheese for grilled cheese, until I prepared the grilled cheese at Lacroix which they make for brunch. They put prosciutto, Parmesan, and brie all on top of brioche, and, as I'm sure you can imagine, it's absolutely delicious. A few days later, I went to Philadelphia's premier cheese shop (Dibruno), and told the cheezer like I tell everyone,(good name for the man behind the counter eh?) "the stinkier the better". After sampling a few cheeses, I picked out Cowgirl Creamery's "Red Hawk," which is my new favorite cheese.
This is unbelievably flavorful and rich and unctuous. It's just so goshdarn good. I toasted it between two slices of Great Harvest Honey Wheat Bread, and my nightmares were replaced by wonderful dreams of taking baths in this stuff. Though if I did that, I would never smell good again.

9 comments:

Tim said...

I love a good grilled cheese.

My favorite recipe is asiago, fontina and gruyere cheeses with bacon and thinly sliced apples on slices of brioche. Assemble the sandwiches, butter both sides of the bread, and bake on a cookie sheet. Flip once to brown top and bottom. It's done when the cheese is melted.

This is an imitation of the grilled 3 cheese at Good Dog Bar in Philly. (Their burger is pretty awesome too.)

craigkite said...

Good ideas on technique, Tim. I butter and grill the insides of the sandwich before adding the ingredients and grilling the outside. I saw a video of Eric Ripert building a croque monsieur with smoked salmon that looked killer.
Nick, when are you going to cover the miracle of Chicken Salad? My "dealer" at work retired and I no longer have access to the "bomb" chicken salad every Wednesday. I am hoping to get a decent version before I have to start having her ship me the stuff FedEx from her SunCity retirement condo.

Bob said...

The best cheese in the Philly area is Downtown Cheese. And even better, they're right across from Adriana's Caravan, the best spice vendor in the Philly area, in the Ardmore Farmer's Market in Suburban Square.

Anonymous said...

are you on crack? or maybe pot....JK!!! that was funny.

Anonymous said...

hi nick
ive been reading your blog. im just like you; i live in philly suburbs, and i like to cook, too, and im 10!

same guy who posted the one above said...

red hawk is expensive though $32 a pound

Cory said...

try out raclette from france... at owrk we make our own duck prosciutto with raclette grilled cheese for happy hour

CabotJen said...

Sounds divine! Have you heard of the Grilled Cheese Invitational? Sounds like you'd rock that competition!

http://grilledcheeseinvitational.com/

curegirl0421 said...

I have to beg to differ, my young friend...

Try this one, oh c'mon just try it once!

Butter both sides of some nice simple wheat bread bread, make your sandwich with AMERICAN cheese (oh it's not that bad - get white American if you're afraid of yellow cheese), put it in the pan. Sprinkle some celery salt on top, and then flip it when it's grilly, celery salt the other side too, and cook it until it's as grilled as you like it. The end.

It's bitchin', I promise.