Shades of cooking: the grilled cheese sandwich
Ah, the joy of cooking! I like to make a meal with great gusto, especially when it is to be shared– it is an absolute labor of love. When my boyfriend and I first started dating, the meals I prepared for us often impressed even me! However, readying everything hours in advance can make staying ahead of the game a difficult task three times a day. That’s why I started to let him take me out for dinner; what a treat!
Although our shared affections have only grown, we now moderate our eating out and/or cooking elaborate meals, leaving them for special occasions like Valentines Day. But alas, there are nuances along the continuum that lead from an afternoon of laboriously preparing food to having a pizza delivered. Stabbing my fork in an attempt at moderation informs this next approach to cooking—a simple meal that calls for just a couple of quality ingredients and a modicum of care, time and energy.
This recipe sprung from a picture that I saw of a Grilled Taleggio Cheese & Grape Sandwich. I had been trying to learn about this particular Italian cheese that I didn’t necessarily like, yet customers bought with great zeal. I would sample it to people expecting a wonderfully sour face – only to get mild approval from them!? What?!
Taleggio cheese is square-shaped and covered in blue, grey and green molds, which run rampant over a bright orange rind. Yet the interior has the runny consistency of Brie and a creamy enough flavor to balance the tingly tang of this stinker.
For the bread I sliced a subtle sourdough (made locally by Beck’s Bakery), buttered it and started it frying in a pan. Then I went to trimming the rind off of the Taleggio cheese, which is already quite moist and runny. Halve the grapes and the prep work is done. Now to the nuance of grilling cheese sandwiches!
I worried that my boyfriend would not be a fan of this cheese and therefore not enjoy the meal. My nerves were wracked when he came into the kitchen, looked around hungrily and asked if he could eat the stinky rind. My fingers still reeked of the stuff! The cheesemonger part of me wanted to encourage exploration (knowing it was entirely safe) but the girlfriend in me thought, “No!!! He is going to spit that out and run screaming from the kitchen in five, four, three…”
But he devoured a fried-so-perfectly-that-the-cheese-browned-around-the-edges-open-faced sandwich in less time than it took for you to read this sentence. I was proud. It is a strong tasting cheese, but the grapes sweetly mock any bitterness away. We enjoyed the meal together savoring every bite while the cat lay snoozing under the table; it was just the three of us and it was a great combination – the bread, the cheese, the grapes; basic cooking, care and attention.
Now I pass that same inspiration on to you, through the filter of my experience. And I give you: Taleggio, the Grilled Cheese of Victory. That is the value of a simple, nuanced, tasty meal.