Monday, January 3, 2011

Bread + Cheese + Bloggers = Grilled Cheese Night




@ConBon and @LAOCFoodie

I always miss my blogger friends in Southern California. The food blogger scene just isn't the same in Portland. Now I realized why I got pitched by a Hollywood producer to do a food blogger reality show. Soul, heart, and personality! 

With the thought of a potential trip down to Southern California for the holidays I started tweeting with my food blogger friends for visitation rights. I threw out the idea of a grilled cheese night to Andy of The Wind Attack, H.C. of L.A. and O.C. Foodventures and Esi of Dishing Up Delights. We had previously bonded over Andy's drunked goat cheese and avocado grilled cheese on homemade honey challah bread at his 12 Courses of honey Party  and have been talking about it ever since. Andy graciously offered to host this event while our beloved cohort member Esi got swapped out for Nathan of The Chocolate of Meats and Connie of Hey Hey Scenesters! I spent the entire day with foodie pal Andy, shopping for produce at the Santa Monica Farmer's market, finding suitable cheese at Surfas in Culver City, and prepping our dairy tolerance at the new Westside Scoops beforehand. We settled in Andy's Sherman Oaks apartment for our grilled cheese night of fun. 

Andy was gifted a loaf of roadhouse rye bread from Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, Michigan. FedExed by Wind Attack's pops. Thanks. Earlier that day at the farmers market, we found some chanterelle mushrooms harvested in the San Louis Obispo region at a good deal. It was eagerly decided these would be incorporated into a grilled cheese as well as the taleggio and cave aged gruyère found at Surfas. Andy added some minced capers to the mix to give an extra punch of flavor. This was a bold, buttery and mouth watering grilled cheese to start with. The rye added another level of rustic-ness and chewiness. Satisfying and earthy. I bequeath to you the Chanterelle and Caper Grilled Cheese on Rye bread

Our plan was to pair each grilled cheese with a beverage. Nathan brought a French hard apple cider to pair with this shroomy grilled cheese. The sweet mellow flavors of the apple cider balanced out the sharp and salty punches of the grilled cheese. 

I made the next grilled cheese. It was an old favorite - the Greek Grilled Cheese made with quince preserves, my pseudo kefalograviera (manchego), and homemade olive oil tsoureki. This grilled cheese was a complete opposite from our starting grilled cheese as it was mild, sweet and fruity. The bread texture was crumbly. 

I relied heavily on my parents' Trader Joe's stocked wine cellar for this pairing, dashing out of the house with a random Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. If I had to do it all over again, I would have selected a floral, mineraly moschofilero to go with this. 


Andy put us all to shame with the next one. He not only hosted the event, but made two grilled cheese sammies. He not only made his own Indian version of the American classic grilled cheese and tomato soup, but also made his own nann, paneer, and masala. Oh, and coconut butter. The nann was inspired by Chef Ludo's 5.0 vadovan nann; infused with leeks, cumin, vadovan curry and fresh garlic. The masala was magic - and top secret - as Andy is working on a cookbook with this recipe at the moment. I felt special eating paneer made from milk in glass bottles sold at Whole Foods. It was refreshing, having been marinating in cilantro-mint,garlic yogurt sauce for the last 24 hours. 

This was paired with Maui Brewing Coconut Porter. The smooth coconut flavors of the beer brought out the exotic flavors from this grilled cheese. 

H.C. offered to make the dessert grilled cheese from the get go.  I adore blackberries and this grilled cheese really struck a chord for me with the wholesome flavors of mesquite honey and black currant jam combined with velvety mascarpone and fresh blackberries all pressed together on honey whole wheat Panera bread

We were all still in wonder what he would do when he emailed a request for "40 ice cubes," needed for the drink paring.The granny smith sparkler made with H.C.'s homemade granny smith apple syrup including  indoctrinated apple slices together with a Californian sparkling wine was a perfect refresher to our grilled cheese bellies. We were stuffed. And very happy. 

We ended the night with a bow tying demonstration from Andy and ideas of future foodie nights to come. 

Check out The Wind Attack's Review here


Anonymous said...

I agree that the food blogger scene here in PDX is a little clinical compared to Seattle, or in your case LA, and have been thinking of a way to rally us together for a night of food and drink. Maybe we should propose a challenge to our PDX pals? A night of winter greens? Or a Pear tasting menu?

Joyti said...

I guess here is a lot of us food bloggers in California.
The grilled cheese night sounds amazing. I am not much of an alcohol drinker - I'd probably do a tea pairing instead :)

Mary Bergfeld said...

What a marvelous time you must have had. It certainly was great fun to read about your evening. The sandwiches all sound wonderful and fortunately no one "overthunk" them. Grilled cheese was one of God's gifts to man. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

SouthBayGuy said...

How awesome. Props to you for writing and photo-ing this so clearly. Everything sounds so good. I got a new mixer for xmas and need to try it out on some bread, soon. Your combos sound like just the right thing to get me jump started.

Esi said...

Sad I missed. Next time!!

Nathan Hazard said...

I am craaaving your bread today, Anna. And HC's apple syrup. And Andy's coconut butter and masala sauce.... AH see, now you have made me hungry!

Diane Schmidt said...

sounds like a perfect time, great food and friends.

The Wind Attack said...

I may have given the bow tie demo, but Nathan still wins the award for best dressed.

And I will say, the leftovers from your sandwich made for a damn good breakfast grilled cheese.

Helen said...

What an innovative selection of grilled cheese sandwich options! The creativity is mind boggling! I still have to make your version of grilled cheese with the quince preserves and tsoureki bread. Looks delicious!

On another note, I am officially baked brie deflowered! I made baked brie smothered in fig jam and wrapped in puff pastry! It was heavenly and I loved it! I will be making it again.

mr. pineapple man said...

I'm really enjoying your blog! love the grilled cheese~

Gastronomer said...

LA food bloggers are pretty rad! What a fun night!

Banana Wonder said...

peaseporridgepdx - I am all for a PDX blogger collaboration! Glad to have found you.

Indie.Tea - Haha I like the idea of grilled cheese and tea... maybe a high noon British theme?

Mary - Agreed!

SouthBayGuy - So sorry I missed you down South - I got sick and barely made it to the grilled cheese night!

Esi - waiting for you in Portland.

Nathan - Did you take some as leftovers? I am thinking about beer ideas now.

Diana - Thanks!

Andy - I wish I had your masala!

Helen - Baked brie deflowerment! We'll add this one to the baby book, no doubt.

Mr.pineappleman - Thanks for visiting!

Cathy - You included! Wish I could have seen you while I was back. Alas, PDX awaits.

Maria said...

Sounds like a great night! Each grilled cheese option better than the last ... all I can say is yum!

Banana Wonder said...

Maria - In that case, I should make my grilled cheese for breakfast :)

Anonymous said...

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Trevor Sis Boom said...

What a great idea and a great recap! This really does read like it should be an annual event!

Banana Wonder said...

Yeah it was such a fun event --- this year will be even better.. get ready to bring it on!