What is not to love about a grilled cheese?
Bread + butter + cheese = culinary genius. Not only is it more delicious than I can describe in words, but it’s easy. Whether it’s for an afternoon snack when your child gets home from school or second dinner at the college dorm, a grilled cheese can be made with practically no prep work, very little clean up, and with the most minimal amount of kitchen appliances.
Everyone has her own perfect combination of bread and cheese. For me, it’s sourdough and sharp cheddar – my mouth is watering already! For years I went through life believing my own humble cheese creation was the most delectable sandwich in existence. Then I was introduced to the gourmet grilled cheese.
My first gourmet grilled cheese experience was at Extraordinary Desserts in San Diego. I just wanted a plain, boring grilled cheese, but this is one of those places that write their prices without the dollar sign so you know it’s expensive before you even start looking. I’m telling you I ordered a twelve-dollar grilled cheese and mixed salad (that had edible flowers in it, I might add).
I ordered the aged cheddar grilled cheese, not knowing what to expect. All the description said was bacon jam / fresh tomato (yes, this place is too fancy to use the word “and”). I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about the bacon jam, but oh my word was it delicious. The bread was crunchy, the cheese perfectly melted and hinted with bacon, and the tomatoes sliced so thin they didn’t fall out when you bit into them.
My other favorite gourmet grilled cheese restaurant, however, costs almost half as much and isn’t nearly as, well, pretentious as my beloved Extraordinary Desserts. And it’s here in Roanoke! Don’t get confused by the name because Pop’s Ice Cream and Soda Bar makes some mean gourmet grilled cheeses. And instead of a flower salad, they are served with popcorn! Also, the butter on these sandwiches is divine.
Now, I am not the only grilled cheese fanatic in search of the greatest sandwich ever. April 28th will mark the tenth annual Grilled Cheese Invitational in Pasadena, CA. There are four categories ranging from traditional American to dessert grilled cheese. Advertised as “the best thing to happen to sliced cheese since bread,” this even has officially been added to my bucket list.
In my journey to grilled cheese greatness, I’ve discovered that whether I’m at home with my sourdough and sharp cheddar with a cup of tomato soup or biting into some heavenly concoction at a five-star restaurant, grilled cheese is great, period.