Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day 746 : The Big Cheesy Coverage

Yesterday afternoon, I ventured down to Openhouse Gallery for this weekend's grilled cheese event -- the Big Cheesy featuring seven different grilled cheeses from some of the city's top cheese-y establishments -- Murray's Cheese, Lucy's Whey, Melt Shop, Tartinery, Big Daddy's, Little Muenster,  and Casellula. The event spans both Saturday and Sunday from 1 till 7pm in one hour slots. Each hour, one hundred people are allowed access to the space to keep the space not too overcrowded and to give people a specific amount time to enjoy their grilled cheeses.

So what was served?

Tartinery had mini croque monsieur and mini croque madames. According to my meat-eating friend, these were delish. The addition of chives sent the classic sandwiches over the top -- dialing them up to competition notch.

Lucy's Whey served a Prairie Breeze Cheddar with Fig Jam, olive oil, and sea salt on ciabatta. Simple, classic and flavorful, the pure elegance of this grilled cheese really stood out for me. It was about the quality of the cheese and showcasing it grilled between two pieces of bread - you simply could not go wrong here.

Little Muenster served homemade tomato soup and round little grilled cheeses with Gruyere, Taleggio, Fontina, Membrillo, and Prosciutto on organic peasant bread. Report from my meat eating friend on the sandwich -- too salty, it would have been so much better without the Prosciutto. The soup was straight forward, comforting and delish. 

Melt Shop was the only establishment that provided you with three different grilled cheeses : 

1. Sharp Cheddar with 12 hour braised pulled pork, McClure's pickles, and homemade bbq sauce on sourdough. 
2. Fontina and goat cheese with roasted wild mushrooms and parsley pesto on sourdough.
3. Blue and Cheddar cheese, cranberry pepper jam, Neuske's bacon on sourdough.

And what were our thoughts:

1. There was too much going on here - no wow factor.
2. Delish, packed with a flavor punch and lots of ingredients.
3. Yum - the pepper in the cranberry sneaks up on you providing you with a nice spicy kick towards the end.

Big Daddy's had probably the most fabulously over the top comfort food version --  Grilled Mac n' Cheese with a Bacon surprise -- basically homemade mac n' cheese with bacon sandwiched between two pieces of bread. Why not take these two classics and combine them into one sandwich? According to my friend -- it worked -- decadent in all the right sorts of ways. 

Casellula served a Griddled Fondue Sandwich with Pickled Pepper relish. They were the only people were making the grilled cheeses in a pan and although the flavor profile might be nicer than the electronic griddler, they took a while to make. Once they pulled the sandwiches out of the pan, they were topped with the cold pickled pepper relish which I thought should have been inside the sandwich warmed up as it felt somewhat like a cold after thought placed on top of this warm sandwich. Overall the flavors were there but maybe not put together in a way that made sense for the number of people at the event. I did really appreciate that they told you exactly what was in the sandwiches.

Last but not least was Murray's Cheese serving the Atomic Bomb - braised short ribs, Taleggio, caramelized onions, piri piri, fire roasted Jalapeno peppers, McClure's spicy pickle relish and arugula on Pullman Bread. They were the only meat based sandwich that offered to make me a vegetarian version -- they definitely get a lot of points for doing that! This sandwich had a nice spicy kick with a great green vegetal side to it! I think that that the bread could have been thinner though so it was less about the bread and more about the interior contents. However they were delish!

Overall a really fun event and a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I'd have to say my favorite, if I get a vote would be Lucy's Whey -- simple, clean, pure, and fabulous! But to be fair -- since I couldn't try all of the grilled cheese options, it is not completely fair for me to judge.

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