Grilled Cheese and Beer, a taste of paradise

DISCLAIMER: I broke some rules here. I ate meat, and I’m not sorry for it – I wanted to taste the sandwiches the way Andrew intended them be enjoyed. I understand some of you won’t like this, but I honestly don’t give a shit. It was high quality stuff, not the corn fed farmed garbage Tyson will pawn off on you, so don’t grief me and I won’t send monkey’s to fling feces on your pristine suburban house.

Now then – this post is dedicated to Andrew over at Andrew’s Cheese Shop. Salutations, sir, and many thanks for an incredibly memorable evening.

For the poor saps out there unfortunate enough to be unable to attend, you are lessened by your absence. I’m serious about this, if you live in LA, fucking get over there ASAP.

Allow me to set the stage: Its 7:30 on a Friday night. Beautiful weather outside, just enough light to see by, you approach a relatively unassuming storefront. Inside its all candles and soft light, surrounded by high quality wine, beer, salts, craft soda and best of all, under the quiet luminescent glow, wonderful cheeses.  A long table with beautiful flat ware and 2o seats confronts you –  an intimate setting, to say the least. You settle in and make idle conversation with your friends as the rest of the group files in – an interesting assortment of folks, from all apparent walks of life, each beautiful in their own way, especially those close to you.

Once all have gathered, the door is locked and the evening begins with a small speech from Andrew, preparing you for the glory about to be thrust upon you, and you dig into the salad artfully set in front of you.

Wasabi vinaigrette? Fuck yea.

Tomatoes, cucumber, olives, red bell pepper, red onion, all topped with a pleasantly spicy Wasabi vinaigrette. The purpose here, as Andrew elucidates, is to prep your taste buds for some bold flavors, and to whet your thirst for some top notch beer.

The first course arrives, more of an amuse-bouche than anything else.

Beer soaked baguette topped with 1 year old Grafton sharp cheddar

Beer: Called ‘Blanche de Chambly’, this light and cidery Belgian white is brewed by the wonderful folks over at Unibroue, who have given us La Terrible, my current favorite beer. A great start, paired with the richness of the baguette, as the sunny citrus sweet really livens up your palate.

This is dangerous. I can see myself drinking several bottles and running into walls before I even noticed I was drunk.

Sandwich: Very simple baguette topped with sharp cheddar cheese – the kicker hits once you bite into the bread proper, whereupon you realize what Andrew meant when he said ‘Beer Soaked Baguette’… simply bursts with flavor. And then, once you’ve finished the whole thing, a small tingling at the back of your throat – horseradish! I’ve never had the stuff used subtly before, very interesting.

A few minutes to settle, and on comes course two….

Very reminiscent of a Caprese salad...on bread...

Unfortunately these pictures aren’t going to do much justice…so much of the magic happens just under the cheese.

Beer: Saison Rue, brewed by ‘The Bruery‘ (a clever play on words based on the families last name). Quite similar to the last beer actually, with more of a bite on the back end. Pleasantly fruity ‘peasant beer’.

Sandwich: Hands down the best damn thing I’ve put in my mouth in years (and don’t you dare take that out of context…). A few others, including my wonderfully ascerbic neighbor, were a little underwhelmed by this one, and that’s fine…and its your opinion…but your wrong Lucy (true name omitted in the interest of safety)! I’M LOOKING AT YOU.

This shits the bee’s knees, or whatever the kids say these days…Olive bread, basil butter, prosciutto de parma, Burrata (OMFGYESSS), tomato, basil, truffle salt. Yea, you read that right, fucking truffle salt. It wasn’t simply the composition of the sandwich, which was impressive given the quality of the ingredients, but the BREAD! Perfectly soaked through with each one of the above mentioned flavors, lightly browned basil butter…..heaven. Heaven on bread.

Paired well with the beer as well.

And as I’m coming down from this euphoric height, considering whether or not I need to change my pants, in comes Course the Third.

Not a personal favorite, delightful nonetheless

Beer: Arrogant Bastard. Bitter, angry, unapologetic – you’ve had it before, and if you haven’t, or you didn’t like it, the fine folks at Stone don’t give a shit and neither do I.

Sandwich: Harvest (carrot, walnut, raisin) wheat bread, Isle of Mull and Quicke’s oak smoked cheddar cheese, dijon mustard, black forest ham, raisins. A nice sandwich, this one was probably the low point of the evening for me. A little too salty, a little too heavy – delicious, nonetheless, but a little much for me. Although, I will say this – the dijon mustard really accented the smoked cheddar beautifully.

Course Four, or how I discovered my ‘Jolly Face’ and appeal to ‘Alternative Women’.

Simple. Spectacular.

I’m not going to explain the last comment, needless to say its an inside joke relating to the conversation at hand.

Beer: Malheur 12. The 12 refers to the percentage of alcohol present, and I must say I found this hard to believe – honestly – since most high alcohol beers end up tasting like ass. For reference, try out Brew Dog’s 18% Tokyo some time; relatively popular, it tastes like sickeningly sweet ass, and I’m convinced the hipsters who drink it all despise it. No, this beer was wonderful. Smooth, nutty coffe chocolate flavor, absolutely no bitterness on the back end, which is off putting considering its color, which is remarkably similar to Arrogant Bastard.

Brandon, my roommate, didn’t like it much…but that doesn’t say anything to the quality of the beer. Homie doesn’t like pickles and has to eat a Hostess Cosmic Brownie with every damn meal, so, yeah. He also hates watermelon. WHO HATES WATERMELON SERIOUSLY.

Sandwich: This was all about the cheese – Morbier, Beaufort de Savoie, varieties of Gruyere, on multigrain wheat. It was topped with some amazing Fleur de Sel, which completely changed the taste, in an ‘OMG I CAN SEE INTO THE FUTURE’ kind of way.

At this point we’d all sort of settled into a comfortable food coma, contentedly sipping our beers and making idle conversation about traveling and the inherent dangers of Italian dentistry, when the Final Course arrived.

Gorgonzola, honey, mana from god

Beer: Meantime London Porter. Another tasty one, made with no less than 7 malts – very intense flavor, also reminiscent of chocolate.

Sandwich: Saison bread, with hazelnuts, walnuts, and raisins soaked in LAMILL coffee. Not sure why that’s all caps. The cheeses were gorgonzola, Munster Gerome, topped with honey – a nice sweeter way to end what was all around a damn spectacular night.

Good friends, new and old, tasty food and eye opening beers…I’m marking this one a downright success.

Thanks again Andrew!

Various info on the Cheese Shop: