There's a lovely little bar near my Brooklyn home that serves the most brilliant grilled cheese sandwiches -- the bread is sliced thin and grilled to crisp perfection. And the melted cheddar within is curled around slender slivers of green apples, which lend the sandwich a nice tartness that cuts through the rich cheese.
I think about that sandwich often -- and it came to mind again when my Let's Lunch group, a bunch of far-flung bloggers who gather once a month for a virtual lunch date, decided on creative grilled cheese sandwiches for October.
The version I had in mind had a few twists, however ...
Home-made Anadama bread, a New England loaf that's slightly sweet from molasses and has a little crunch to it from polenta grains, seemed like the perfect choice.
Next, there was the issue of the cheese -- a little walk to my favorite cheese shop in Brooklyn seemed to be in order: Stinky Bklyn in Cobble Hill.
I had been considering one of my favorite fromages when this endeavor started: Huntsman cheese, which I adore because it has two different kinds of strong tastes -- sharp double Gloucester with strips of Stilton woven in.
When I explained what I was looking for to the nice cheese lady ...
... she immediately pointed to Dunbarton Blue, a cow's milk cheese from Shullsburg, Wis., which is a nutty cheddar laced with blue cheese veins.
She wasn't wrong -- this cheese was delicious. Unlike the Huntsman, which often leaves you with a mouthful of stilton or a mouthful of double Gloucester, depending on which bit you've cut for yourself, the blue and cheddar are more tightly intertwined in the Dunbarton so you get a true melding of the two flavors.
I knew I wanted some sort of fruit to cut the richness of the cheese -- immediately, Asian pears, which are just slightly sweet and have a super-crunchy quality, came to mind.
For an added touch, I whipped up a little rosemary honey...
... and the sandwich assembling began: I layered two slices of Anadama bread with thin slices of Dunbarton, topped one side with a layer of thinly sliced, peeled Asian pears, capped that with a drizzled teaspoonful of rosemary honey, combined the slices and let the buttery grilling begin.
How did it taste? Heartstoppingly good just about describes it.
The sweet (but not too sweet), crisp pears were a lovely accompaniment to the strong blue-cheddar cheese. And the rosemary honey added a touch of savory sweetness to the combination. The crunchy toasted bread was just the icing on the cake, really.
Our sandwiches, sadly, disappeared all too quickly. Not to worry, though, I'm sure they'll make a reappearance before too long -- in fact, I think I might spy traces of them along my waistline already ...
If you'd like to join Let's Lunch, go to Twitter and post a message with the hashtag #Letslunch -- or, post a comment below.
And don't forget to see other Let's Lunchers' fancy grilled cheese ideas below:
Cathy's Breadless Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Bacon & Apples at Show Food Chef
Chris's Grilled Colby Jack, Black Forest Ham & Pickles Sandwich at Blog Well Done
Chris's Second Grilled Cheese Entry: Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese with Confit Chicken at Blog Well Done
Danielle's "Mousetrap" -- Grilled Cheese with Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers & Bacon at Bon Vivant
Ellise's Grilled Brie, Pear & Prosciutto Sandwich at Cowgirl Chef
Emma's Grilled Cheese on Nine-Grain with Provolone, Smoked Gouda & Truffle Oil at Dreaming of Pots And Pans
Linda's Oven-Grilled Cheese Cat & Pumpkin Sandwiches at Free Range Cookie
Grilled Blue Cheese/Cheddar Sandwiches with Asian Pears & Rosemary Honey
For rosemary honey:
1/2 cup honey
2 sprigs rosemary
1 pinch sea salt
1/4 lb Dunbarton blue cheese (or other cheddar/blue cheese blend)
Two slices Anadama bread
1/2 Asian pear, peeled and thinly sliced
Butter for the pan
Pour honey into a saucepan, add rosemary and sea salt. Bring to a boil then let it simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes -- or until honey really starts to take on that rosemary smell.
Slice cheese as thinly as you can and layer two slices of Anadama bread with these slices. Add a layer of Asian pears to one of the slices and drizzle with a scant teaspoon (more if you'd like a sweeter sandwich) of rosemary honey. Heat a little bit of butter in a pan, press both slices together and heat the sandwich up until the cheese has melted and the bread is nice and crusty. Serve immediately.