Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gala Parfait: Grilling Cheese

Grilled cheese.
I'll admit, over the years the union of gooey cheese and crusty pan fried bread has strayed a bit from the polestar of my culinary interest. But sometimes it just takes one night to remember.. A taste of the glory days to bring it all flooding back. Thanks to Andy (@windattack) and a vision, my passion for crispy dairy+carb sandwiches is renewed.
A late addition to this coursed haute potluck conjured up by a posse of bloggers, I was invited when Esi (@dishingdelights) canceled, joining Anna (@bananawonder), Connie (@conbon) and H.C. (@LAOCfoodie) one cold and windy night, under the congenial care of chef @windattack. The design: For each blogger to create an impressive take on grilled cheese, and pair it with a suitable adult beverage.
The inspiration for @windattack's first course - The Roadhouse rye bread from Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Roadhouse bread is an early American recipe combining rye flour and cornmeal with wheat, plus a touch of sweetness from the inclusion of dark molasses.
Filling the slices of chewy rye, sauteed local chanterelle mushrooms and minced capers with taleggio and cave-aged gruyère cheeses.
With a dash of honey on the plate (wouldn't be @windattack without the honey!), course one was raucously successful - sharp, tangy, buttery and robust! 
Since I didn't have time to conceive and prepare a dish, I contributed the pairing for this sandwich, selected with the aid of Jill at DomaineLA. The Domaine du Manoir de Montreuil Cambremer Cidre (cider) from the Pays d'Auge region of Normandy (an appellation contrôlée for cider and calvados) carried aromas of tart apple skins on the head, substantial body sweet with ripe fruit, followed by a surprisingly dry finish. A good pair that could have only been improved perhaps with a touch more funkiness.
@bananawonder presenting her homemade olive oil tsoureki, the star of course two.
Generally, @bananawonder's Greek Grilled Cheese features kefalograviera cheese (a salty, hard sheep milk cheese) and preserved quince on her olive oil tsoureki. But tonight, she confessed, we would know manchego in lieu of the less readily available kefalograviera. But I might not have noticed, the crumbly, light as air tsoureki capturing my full attention, delicately enhanced by the jewels of quince and melty binding.
@conbon and @LAOCfoodie taking a breather.
For @windattack's next course, he too went ethnic and "one-upped Ludo." Inspired by the vadovan naan that opened Ludobites 5.0, @windattack spiked his naan dough with sauteed leeks, cumin seeds, vadovan curry powder and chopped garlic - then used this as the base for his Indian adaptation of the classic grilled cheese and tomato soup. The cheese was fresh homemade paneer, marinated in a cilantro-mint-ginger-garlic yogurt-based sauce for 24 hours. In place of tomato soup, an addictive homemade masala sauce. The naan was slathered with salted coconut butter, filled with the grilled paneer and onions, served with the masala on the side. And a tasting spoon of salted coconut butter - because it was too good not to enjoy on its own! 
@windattack paired his sandwich with Maui Brewing Company’s Coconut Porter, lightly echoing the nutty nuances of the dish.
Crazy good.
By now, it was hard to deny - We were getting full. So while slowly beginning to prepare his dessert grilled cheese, @LAOCfoodie mixed up his paired cocktail for us to sip on first while we rested. The tart Granny Smith Fizz made with homemade granny smith apple syrup and sparkling wine was a hit - and the refreshing tonic our tummies needed.
For his offering @LAOCfoodie melted mascarpone with fresh blackberries, mesquite honey and black currant jam on honey whole wheat Panera bread. The sweet smells from the kitchen made me down a couple glasses of water, desperately trying to find the appetite for this treat!
Gorgeous, and delectable.
Naturally, dinner was followed with a bow tying demonstration by @windattack. And droopy eyelids. The wind howled outside and Granny Smith Fizzes were sipped, the kitchen now quiet. Cameras and phones were set aside. Documentation ceased. The bloggers were sated, and in place of bread and cheese we shared some laughs.


  1. I love your pics and missing our grilled cheeses like crazy. You should come visit Portland when Andy comes up and we can have another round... or stew up some rabbit and forage our own mushrooms.

  2. Great pictures! It's like reliving it all over again.

  3. Anna I am so long overdue and most definitely DO see Portland happening in 2011... Rabbit stew and foraging are will happen!.. and a dindin at Grüner :)