A Culinary Adventure, From Gardens and Markets to Restaurants and Home Kitchens
Apr 5, 2013
05:27 PM
Local Flavor

The Cheesiest

The Cheesiest

April is Grilled Cheese Month! How did I miss this for so many years? Perhaps because in our house, we celebrate Grilled Cheese Year, all year, every year. Grilled cheese works for snack, lunch, dinner, served with ketchup, ranch, spinach, pears or jam.

As a child my mom made grilled cheese for me and my sister regularly, too. But it was not the American-cheese-on-white-bread grilled cheese that most of my friends ate.

Nope, my mom, a very health conscious woman, made a health conscious grilled cheese. Yes, it’s possible. Whole grain bread sandwiched cheddar or colby cheese, tomato slices (when fresh) and sprouts.

As we bit into the buttery crust, gooey cheese draped from our mouth to the bread, tomato juice ran down our chins, and sprouts extended out of our mouths like a goatee. We liked the messy factor of this sandwich, and we loved the name my mom aptly gave it—the Whisker Sandwich.

Grilled cheese has come a long way, and has earned a place on the menus of many local restaurants. I am admittedly an Alchemy groupie, and one reason is the stuffed grilled cheese sandwich on a sourdough, with swiss, cheddar and lightly roasted vegetables with a cilantro pesto sauce made in house. Madison Sourdough spruces up cheddar cheese by grilling it on their toasted brioche with optional (really?) bacon jam. The Old Fashioned serves up their grilled cheese sandwich with swiss, aged cheddar, wood-roasted red bell peppers and Bavaria’s hickory-smoked bacon on Texas toast, while Jacs on Monroe Street blends brie and chevre with arugula, fig jam and caramelized onion. Pardon my drool.

Fromagination, Madison’s acclaimed artisan cheese shop on the square, is joining in the celebration of Grilled Cheese Month, naturally. Every day from 11–2 p.m. during April you can stop in to sample one of their grilled cheese creations. Yes, I mean everyday, because once you taste one, you will want them all. Oh, it’ll be hard to choose. Will you indulge in the stuffed french toast topped with mascarpone and bourbon maple syrup, the grilled Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese with prosciutto and Quince and Apple’s pear and ginger preserves, or the gouda and blue cheese with cayenne and kraut? House Made Beer and Cheese Soup (featuring Swiss, 2-year Cheddar and New Glarus Moon Man Pale Ale) is a breadless alternative. But when the bread is fresh baked at Batch Bakehouse it becomes a key component, elevating each sandwich to a sensual experience that borders on naughty. And smile, because on Wednesday, April 24 at 7 p.m., Fromagination is hosting a Grilled Cheese Happy Hour. Contact them at 608-255-2430 to reserve your spot.

If you think your grilled cheese recipe is drool-worthy, you have a few options to show off your skills. Check out the second annual Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship in Mineral Point, on April 27. The competition will include several categories—kids, professionals and amateurs among them. Or enter the Grilled Cheese Academy’s 2013 grilled cheese "recipe showdown" contest online for a chance to win big prizes! Ah, it’s a great time to live in Wisconsin!

Photo courtesy of Grilled Cheese Academy. 

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About This Blog

Writing has always provided an anchor for my passions, which focus deeply on food, dance, environmental conservation and culture. I grew up “helping” my dad cultivate a prolific garden that produced too many radishes and watching my mom make almost all of our food from scratch, including horehound candy. Meanwhile I took my first African dance class in high school, which ignited my continuing quest to travel to West Africa, via Europe and South America, to study dance.

Through my travels, I learned that we are all connected by food, and our basic need to eat. Since moving to Madison in 1998 to pursue degrees in conservation biology and dance, I have developed an appreciation for the richness of our local food community, and a great desire to share it with others. What started as a personal food blog, A World of Flavors, has since grown into a business teaching cooking classes and leading local and international food tours.

I look forward to sharing culinary adventures with you through my Madison Magazine blog Local Flavor and monthly Dining In recipe column.

  – Otehlia Cassidy
Follow Otehlia on Twitter @madisoneats

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