Anyone who questions the usefulness of Twitter obviously hasn’t experienced its benefits. Like its facilitation in organizing grilled cheese parties.
One random day before the holidays, @bananawonder brought up the idea and then through a long string of tweets, the grilled cheese party was born.
Four courses of grilled cheese sandwiches paired with four tasty beverages; each course prepared by a different blogger.
I gladly offered to host this event and quickly began thinking up possible sandwich creations.
This dinner was in part inspired from my Avocado Honey Grilled Cheese from my Honey Tasting Dinner last spring. Melty wine-soaked goat cheese, fresh avocado and rich, molasses-like avocado honey on homemade challah was a memorable combo.
However, I decided to forgo a repeat of that sandwich in pursuit of an new creation.
Unfortunately, our friend @dishingdelights cancelled on us at the last minute, so we were short one grilled cheese chef. I quickly volunteered myself to make a replacement.
An Xmas gift of Zingerman’s Roadhouse Bread made a solid foundation for my first sandwich. With a soft interior, incredible flavor, and a crust that flakes off with a magical crunch, it is perhaps my favorite bread in the world. Slathered with butter and grilled, it made for a killer sandwich.
Filled with sauteed chanterelle mushrooms (currently abundant and relatively inexpensive from all the recent rain in SoCal), taleggio cheese, cave-aged gruyère cheese (caramelized in the oven) and minced capers, it was an intense start to the meal. We paired this sandwich with a hard cider that @chocomeat picked up from DomaineLA.
In a fashion that would only be appropriate for a table full of bloggers, we extensively photographed and tweeted about each course of the meal.
I dare say I was almost full after one half sandwich… but I was excited enough for the sandwiches ahead to refresh my appetite.
@bananawonder’s preserved quince, manchego cheese on homemade olive oil Tsoureki bread was a great light followup to the first round. Gooey, stringy cheese, light, crisp bread and sweet bursts of fruit. We washed it down with a nice red wine (although we all agreed perhaps a dry white would have been a better pair).
Next up was my second sandwich. I wanted to do something completely different. I took the idea of “grilled cheese sandwich” literally and created a sandwich of grilled cheese. Grilled paneer, that is.
I made a slab of fresh paneer (a surprisingly easy endeavor) and marinated it in a cilantro-mint-ginger-garlic yogurt-based sauce for a full 24 hours. I also marinated some sliced red onions.
For the bread I took a page from Chef Ludo’s book. I loved his vadovan naan bread from Ludobites 5.0, so I decided to make my own version.
Leeks and cumin seeds sauteed in butter and finished with vadovan curry powder and chopped garlic was folded into my naan dough. Quickly cooked under the broiler I got the crispy exterior and soft interior that Ludo’s version was sadly lacking.
I also tried my hand at Ludo’s salted coconut butter and it was quite a treat. So much so that I served my sandwich with a tasting spoon of the butter on the side.
The nann was slathered with the coconut butter, filled with the grilled paneer and onions and served with a side of homemade masala sauce. It was like an Indian flavored grilled cheese and tomato soup combo.
I paired my sandwich with Maui Brewing Company’s Coconut Porter. The flavors of the sandwich somehow intensified the coconut taste in the beer.
We were all stuffed at this point so we took a little break before the dessert sandwich. @laocfoodie’s sparkler of homemade granny smith apple syrup and sparkling wine was a refreshing sipper in the meantime.
The final sandwich was a simple affair of marscapone cheese, blackberries, black current jam and mesquite honey on wheat bread. The warm, creamy marscapone made for a finger-licking messy delight.
I was thrilled with how this concept dinner inspired such collaboration and creativity. We’re already thinking about the next theme dinner… the current idea? Cooking with beer.
Until then, Happy New Year and Happy Eatings!