It’s April, and that means it’s National Grilled Cheese Month! A whole calendar page dedicated to gobbling up gooey sandwiches overflowing with glorious melted cheese. Grilled cheese has certainly come a long way from the days of white bread, Kraft American Cheese (product) and butter. Now, even some of the swankiest restaurants offer a signature grilled cheese on their menu along with a hefty price tag. In my area, Café Muse in Royal Oak, Michigan has even managed to snag a coveted “Favorite Things” recommendation from Oprah for their havarti, mozzarella and Danish fontina concoction.
So what makes a great grilled cheese sandwich? Of course, the cheese should be the star, but what is it that can take a sandwich from ordinary to extraordinary? Some may say bigger is better. At Melt Bar and Grilled in Cleveland, Ohio, they offer the Melt Challenge: thirteen different kinds of cheeses, three slices of thick-cut bread along with a mound of fries and slaw make up this five-pound monster. Gulp down this bad boy and you’ll win a Melt t-shirt, pint glass, a gift card and a bellyache that will last for a week.
Others may think price dictates how delectable a sandwich is. Gilt in New York City serves perhaps one of the most expensive grilled cheeses on the market. Made famous on the TV show “Gossip Girl,” this namesake, fontina-based sandwich has two ounces of shaved black truffle and a price tag of $50.00!
Perhaps it’s the creative process that goes in to the sandwich. Grilled cheese blogger, Shane Kearns (www.grilledshane.com) combines ingredients like edamame and carrots or baby bok choy with his grilled cheeses. Shane is so inventive that he is even writing his own grilled cheese book (due out sometime in August).
Great grilled cheese can be composed of pretty much anything. Sometimes the greatest grilled cheeses just evoke a memory. On a personal note, I remember my mom making Lebanese Cheese Bread (shown above) instead of the old standard as a treat. Pita bread layered with Muenster cheese and a dash of Lawry’s seasoning salt, toasted a bit longer than needed to make the pita really crisp and the cheese almost liquid. Mom and I would sit at the kitchen table and eat our sandwiches while we talked about our day, just the two of us. Even now when I eat one, I feel like a kid, safe and at peace.
No matter how it’s sliced, diced, or priced, grilled cheese is comfort food for the masses. Enjoy National Grilled Cheese Month and let The Mouse know about your favorites by leaving a comment.