February 3, 2015
When you think of a grilled cheese, you think of one of the most popular comfort foods. But, when you live in NYC, a grilled cheese is so much more. It’s innovative. It’s art. And, it’s competitive. Last Sunday, I spent my afternoon NOT in my sweatpants watching Dawson’s Creek, but out in SoHo at The Big Cheesy: a Grilled Cheese Tasting and Contest.
The event was located at OpenHouse Gallery, a swanky space on Mulberry Street, that invited ticket holders to come in, drink a few beers, and try six different and unique grilled cheese sandwiches, made by restaurants around the city. I don’t need to tell you how great of an event this was and I was so lucky I was able to go. (Ok, I’m not a big shot. All you needed was 30$ and a valid ID).
Upon entering the OpenHouse Gallery, we were greeted with paper plates, two drink tickets, and an orange ping-pong ball.
“You guys got beer pong here?” my friend Rebecca asked the door man. (There’s one in every group, ammiright?) It turned out that the ping-pong ball was how you voted. We all grabbed one of our drink tickets and headed to the bar for a pint of Goose Island IPA Ale Pilsner Stout, or whatever fancy beer is called. Once we had our beverage, we wandered down the stairs to check out the food.
On the main floor, there were six “booths” set up, one from each restaurant participating, and they were all grilling up a storm. The first one we went to was from FAME by Alex Mitow and their sandwich was called “The Taylor Swiss.” I hadn’t even taken a bite before casting my vote in my head. If that wasn’t enough, they had a giant sign above with a Kanye quote, and the girl making the grilled cheese turned to me and said, “I knew you were truffle when you walked in.” Come on!
Their sandwich had Swiss cheese, clearly, and a granny smith apple grilled between two pieces of white bread. It was very flavorful, but I knew there was a better one out there (Sorry guys!)
The next station we went to was a crowd favorite. There was such a long line and you could see from the way back they had the most orange ping-pong balls. When we finally reached the counter, we were amazed. The grilled cheese was stuffed with brie and topped with warm maple syrup. I am sure some of you are like “Ew…” but believe me – It was incredible. After we tasted their sandwich, we understood why half of the crowd was waiting in line for seconds.
Other grilled cheeses were the Cubana (slow roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese and jalapeno chips) from Sons of Essex and The Shroom Melt (sautéed mushrooms, truffle oil and mozzarella) from Mrs. Dorsey’s Kitchen.
While I thought still the Maple Syrup grilled cheese was great (and the best one by far), I still wasn’t convinced it was THE BEST one, so I continued making my rounds. Finally, I made it to the last booth. It was Twist & Smash’d, a name I was familiar with having one of their restaurants a few blocks from me in Astoria. When I made my way closer, it was then that I realized this would be my number one choice. This would be my winner.
Macaroni & Cheese Grilled Cheese.
They had two kinds: one with bacon and chili and one without. Clearly, I had to try both. A few times. And then once more. It was clear. They, in my eyes (and mouth) were the winners. I dropped my orange ball into the jar and grabbed two more bite-sized sandwiches for the road.
We all finished the remaining beer in our cups and made our way out the doors while they were ushering in a new group of 100 people to taste these awesome sandwiches and cast their vote. I love events like this. Last year I went to a Mac & Cheese Tasting/Contest and it was one of the greatest nights of my life. If you know of more types of events like this, please let me know!
Unless it’s like, which Brussel sprout pie is the best…or something?
* Sorry there are no pictures of the actual grilled cheese. They were bite-sized and I was hungry.
** I have no idea who won.