Friday, April 30, 2010

The Dawn of a New Cheese Age As Evidenced at the Tillamook's 8th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational

Grilled cheese sandwiches are the ultimate in easy comfort food, requiring only 3 basic ingredients really: cheese, bread and butter. If you always have an extra wedge and loaf on hand, whipping up a delicious meal is maybe just ten minutes away.

Nowadays, grilled cheese sandwiches can be taken to a whole new level with the availability of so many varieties of quality cheeses from regions as far reaching as Argentina, New Zealand to The Netherlands. Add the fact that the United States has jumped on the cheesemaking bandwagon, in force, and we have a virtual cheese revolution on our hands.

And not only are there a plethora of cheeses, literally anything can be added to this basic sandwich as was demonstrated at the Grilled Cheese Invitational in Los Angeles on April 24th. Examples of such creativity: Gago Avaneszadea's grilled Ricotta, Cayenne and Chocolate cheese sandwich; or 10-year-old Jake Feldman's "The Jakester" combining potato bread, Tillamook cheese, queso fresco, grilled portabello mushrooms, sauteed onions, tomato, butter, ground spicy cheetos and sauteed chorizo.

Taking top honors, a Short-Ribs-and-Taleggio on raisin bread with a piquant apricot-caper schmear from celebrity chef Eric Greenspan. The former Iron Chef plans to bring the beloved comfort food to a new level. Grilled cheese's popularity and new possibilities have sparked a renewed interest. Greenspan has plans to open up a grilled-cheese-sandwich restaurant on Melrose Place in LA next door to his current roost, The Foundry.

Heidi Gibson is also leading the bandwagon. She plans to open up The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in San Francisco later this year. Of the grilled cheese fad she says, "I think the trend is cyclical, based on what’s going on in our economy and culture. When people feel unsettled and uneasy, they reach for comforting things — but their tastes have grown up, so they’re open to experimenting with different ingredients.” She quit her 15 year reign as a webmaster to open a grilled cheese restaurant... yes, you read that correctly.

Congratulations to cheese diviners and cheese chefs alike. We, your cheese-eating audience, thank you.

1 comment: said...

Quite interesting: how to partecipate at the next one?