"Old Smokey" | Grilled Smoked Gouda, Smoked Mozzarella, Smoked Provolone Sandwich with Smoked Paprika-Butter Toasted, Sunflower-Seeded Pumpernickel Bread
SO, GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES HAVE been on my mind alot as of late. Besides it being National Grilled Cheese Month (which in turn hosts its own National Grilled Cheese Day), the food competition show, America's Next Great Restaurant, featured a contestant who wanted to open a chain of grilled cheese restaurants called Melt Works, and, right after his ousting from that competition, a couple of New York City guys opened up a grilled cheese shop called Melt Shop, right here in midtown Manhattan. And all that's after three different food trucks featuring the grilled cheese sandwich debuted here in the city as well in the last few months.

I got my first grilled cheese groove on a little over a week ago, with a grilled sharp cheddar, bacon, and peanut sandwich I've since called The Sinner since being accepted into the Grilled Cheese Academy online (yes, that's a real thing!).

But what I've started to notice as that all of these sandwiches, including my own, have gone from being about the cheese to now being about everything you can mix with and/or add to the cheese. The cheese has become secondary—in many cases, an afterthought—which is a shame because I can't think of a better way to educate people and their palates about the varied nuances, tastes, textures, aromatics, punch, tang, mellowness, creaminess of the large number of different yet excellent cheeses that are readily available to most people than with the innate "comfortability" of the grilled cheese sandwich.

I have now devised a list of 5 different grilled cheese sandwiches that will only feature cheese and bread, any additional flavorings derived from the slight seasoning of butter or oil that I would use to grilled the sandwiches. I decided this cold rainy morning I would make my first sandwich hearty in taste and balance (hours later, as I write this post, it is over 70 degrees out and sunny, for the first time in weeks—Happy Easter!), and had the kind ladies at Food Emporium kindly fresh slice some smoked gouda, some smoked mozzarella, and some smoked provolone (which, honestly, I didn't know existed). I picked up some sunflower-seeded slices of pumpernickel bread.

Once home, I preheated a skillet to medium heat, I cut my cheese slices into strips, interchanging the strips as I laid them across a slice of the pumpernickel bread until I had a three layes of kind of patchwork cheeses. I topped that off with the second slice, spread some butter on both sides of the sandwich, then dusted both sides with some Hungarian smoked paprika.

Into the skillet the sandwich went, about 3 minutes each side, covered. Then onto a plate and cut in half while still hot.

I could happily taste the three different cheeses as we can see them in the photos. The cheeses even melted in three different ways; the mozzarella become hot and stringy, the provolone had more of a creamy melt, and the gouda was more, let's say, gooey. And the gouda's natural and aromatic earthiness and slight sharpness nicely picked up the mozzarella's mellowness, while the provolone danced nicely in between, helping the to softer and firmer cheese blend into one. The pumpernickel added richness and texture to each bite, accentuated by little burst of nutty brightness by the sunflower seeds. (Maybe the sunflower seeds were an omen to this still presently beautiful Easter Day weather...)

National Grilled Cheese Month will be over soon (next month is National Burger Month; do we really need that?!), and I'm just here to make the world not just a little happier—or fatter—for it, but wiser as well. Not that you don't have other things on your mind today, this suddenly beautiful Easter Sunday, wearing your Easter Sunday best, and posing for pictures with the family. Is everyone ready? Okay, Say, "Cheeeeese...!" [click]

Bun Apple Tea!


"Old Smokey" | Grilled Smoked Gouda, Smoked Mozzarella, Smoked Provolone Sandwich with Smoked Paprika-Butter Toasted, Sunflower-Seeded Pumpernickel Bread