But before we get to my choice for top grilled cheese, lets fill you in on all of the choices:
'Wichcraft brought you two choices :
A Berkshire pork, Fontina, pork coppa and hot pepper option which was spicy and flavorful. Along with a truffle, hen of the woods, Fontina, and Chevre option which although a nice flavor combination was lacking in that "je ne sais quoi" to really pop. And when asked what chevre was utilized, the 'wichcraft representatives did not know the answer.
Next up, Murray's Cheese Bar with the classic grilled cheese and tomato soup pairing. The tomato soup had a nice kick to it from a spicy paprika that was added to the soup. And what of the grilled cheese? Thick slices of pullman bread with "Murray's top secret" cheese blend. The ratio of bread to cheese was too much here if you ask me. And because there was so much bread, it was difficult to dip into the cups of soup. The soup was definitely a winner though -- simple and robust, yet warming and comforting.
Then on to Milk Truck which was still making their grilled cheeses when our hour started and was much more focused on them than on the crowd but when theirs came out they were bursting with flavor and ingredients! Thick sliced Applewood double smoked bacon, New York state Cheddar, Wisconsin Black River Blue, Caramelized Onions & McClure's Spicy Pickles on Blue Ribbon Mini Rosemary Pullman Bread. Wow, what a mouthful of flavors, right?
Up next was the Upper West Side contender, Say Cheese, with two offerings. Offering number one was the French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese with French Onion, Gruyere, Swiss, and Parmesan. The comfort and warmth of French Onion soup in a grilled cheese sandwich, pretty fantastic on a cold day! Their other offering was the only dessert sandwich with an interactive component -- Nutella, Marscapone, marshmallows, and warm melty chocolate in a little plastic squeezy tube. A cute concept and definitely a crowd pleaser for those chocoholics out there.
Moving right along to Sons of Essex with two options -- the Bowery Bacon Crusted Melt composed of Bacon crusted Brioche, Beemster, baby Swiss, white Cheddar, and Manischewitz shallot jam. Inventive and unique, the addition of bacon on the outside instead of sandwiched between the two pieces of bread was a nice distinct touch. And their other option was Truffle Grilled Cheese on Brioche with Gruyere, goat cheese, Parmesan, sauteed mushrooms and baby arugula. Super flavorful and bright with a nice tangy rusticness. Just what you want in a grilled cheese, dynamic comfort without an overload of flavors.
Next up to Lucy's Whey, my favorite from the Big Cheesy 2012 because of its simplicity. This year's offering was Apple, Cheddar, and Ham -- "A sandwich as American as Apple Pie." Composed of buttered pain de mie, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, local apple butter, fromage blanc and a slice of ham. Simple yet flavorful, classic yet refined. Lucy's Whey did not disappoint again.
And last up was Melt Shop's offering of Widmer's Aged Cheddar and Brick with Nueske's Bacon and Cranberry Onion Chutney on Levain Locale. Wow! This was an intensely flavorful and in your face mouthful! A definite wake-me-up on a Sunday morning!
So what were Fromagical's thoughts?
2013 was the year of bacon and truffles at the Big Cheesy. The energy of the people making the sandwiches really impacted your tasting experience, the folks from Sons of Essex were friendly and knowledgeable, excited about their offerings and about people enjoying them whereas Milk Truck was so focused on their excellent product that they did not have the chance to chat with the tasters as much as one might have liked.
Overall a great time was had by all! But what was Fromagical's favorite?
Sons of Essex!
Because their sandwiches were the perfect blend of invention and innovation yet