Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Who doesn't like a grilled cheese sandwich on a cold, dreary day? We decided to attempt our own "gourmet"-style grilled cheese sandwich to pair with some of the tomato basil soup that we made last fall. Whether or not it truly fits the definition of a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich may be subject to further judgment. 

Here is a short narrative of our effort as well as some information about the cheeses we selected. We opted to combine sharp cheddar and Taleggio cheeses in our sandwiches. These cheeses are produced in rather beautiful regions of the world. If you are a cheese connoisseur and enjoy traveling, you just may wish to include these destinations on your itinerary.

Cheddar cheese is regarded as the world's most popular cheese. It originated in the English village of Cheddar. The history of the village of Cheddar dates back to Roman and Saxon times. 
Cheddar is known for its gorge, which is the largest in the United Kingdom. The region is also home to a number of caves which are available for touring. These caves provided the ideal humidity and and temperatures for producing cheese. Producing a strong, mature cheddar cheese requires up to 15 months. Here is a picture of cheddar cheese maturing in the caves in the Cheddar region.
To be honest, I hadn't heard of Taleggio cheese until just recently. As you might surmise from its name, its origins are in Italy. To be specific, it originated in the Val Taleggio, which is in the Lombardy region of Italy.

The Val Taleggio is an alpine region which is incredibly beautiful. Like Cheddar, it also has a gorge region. 
The temperatures and humidity of the Val Taleggio provide the ideal environment for producing this soft cheese. The history of this cheese dates back to the ninth century, and it was even used as currency in the thirteenth century. I should also caution that Taleggio cheese has a VERY strong aroma. The taste is relatively mild, but the smell can overwhelm you if you aren't prepared for it.

Now, on to how we assembled our grilled cheese sandwiches …
Here are the cheddar and Taleggio cheeses we used. Mind you, we didn't use all of them.
We elected to use a brioche bread, which is a French bread that includes eggs and butter. We had the loaf sliced at the grocery store. Although the thick slices seemed a good idea at the time, we will probably ask to have the loaf sliced a little more thinly in the future. 
We started by buttering the outsides of the bread slices.
Next, we grated, rather than sliced the cheddar cheese and loaded up the bread with it.

The next step was to add the Taleggio cheese. Be aware that this soft cheese does not "grate" well, so you will just have to do the best that you can. From this next picture you can get an idea as to just how much we added in relation to the cheddar. Even though this is a milder cheese, our goal was to use it to enhance the flavor of the sandwich.
We then repeated the cheddar cheese, topped the sandwiches with the remaining slices of bread, and toasted them until the cheese was melted, and the bread was nicely toasted.
Here is one of our sandwiches ready to be consumed.
Have you tried your own "gourmet" grilled cheese sandwiches?
What cheeses do you like to include?