Wednesday, August 3, 2011
'Time' Writer Blasts Grilled Cheese Trend
We were excited when local restaurateur Dion Antic announced last week that he was opening the grilled cheese-focused Melt Sandwich Shop this fall.
I mean, who doesn't like a well-made grilled cheese?! There's absolutely nothing to complain about, especially when this classic, simple sandwich is elevated with gourmet ingredients.
That's why I was a bit perplexed when Time's Josh Ozersky insisted in his latest column that this perfectly gooey grub should be made by your mom's hands, not by someone else's in a cold, restaurant kitchen.
How strange, huh?! Especially since chefs across the country have been reclaiming and reinventing comfort food on a higher level for years. In fact, it's been well documented that the trend hit its highest note right after Sept. 11, 2001, as more Americans gravitated toward cuisine that made them feel closer to home.
In his article, Ozersky wrote that "the problem with a restaurant serving grilled cheese is that the sandwich is too simple. It has three elements—white bread, American cheese and margarine—which are generally held in low esteem by the sandwich-buying public even though these ingredients come together in an amazing bite, simultaneously crisp and soft, double-buttery and starchy sweet, lush and delicate."
He goes on to say that "inevitably, the white bread gets swapped out for some fancier, coarser, denser substance that will obscure and distort the sandwich's taste. The American cheese, whose supernatural meltability, evenness and quick-setting viscosity make the whole thing possible, gets replaced with waxy, greasy cheddar, smoked Gouda or whatever; and the thin, even coat of fat, which suffuses the delicate airiness of the white bread, gets tinkered with as well."
I've had some pretty damn great gourmet grilled cheese that were tasty and did not go over the top with ingredients at the likes of Pierrot Gourmet, Silver Cloud and Sprout. There were countless others, but the point is that perhaps the author needs to get out more.
So, c'mon, Ozersky. There's gotta be something better else you can pick on. What's next? Mac 'n' cheese? Meatloaf? Mashed potatoes?!