Growing Old With Cheese

Not far from Cheese Connoisseur headquarters, Cut 432, a steakhouse in Delray Beach, FL, serves a delicious grilled cheese sandwich made with Gouda and sliced short rib on buttered thick toast and served with heirloom tomato soup.

It’s just similar enough to my mom’s Kraft-singles-on-white-bread grilled cheese with Campbell’s tomato soup to make me nostalgic, and it’s just different enough to make me feel sophisticated and grown up.

Cut 432 didn’t invent this sandwich — innovative grilled cheese sandwiches are all the rage; there are even grilled cheese-themed restaurants, such as The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in San Francisco. The Grilled Cheese Truck in Los Angeles tweets its constantly moving location. Chedd’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese is selling franchises and currently has units in Sioux Falls, SD, and Austin, TX. Guy Fieri’s

Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives has visited Melt Bar & Grilled in Ohio, and Cheesie’s Pub & Grub just opened in Chicago. New Yorkers mourning the closing of Grilled Cheese NYC can take solace over an English Cheddar, Nueske’s bacon and Granny Smith apple slices sandwich at Artisanal Bistro, or Gruyère and Fontina cheeses on crusty grilled bread — also served with tomato soup — at Bouchon Bakery.

Each year, Los Angeles is the host city for the annual Grilled Cheese Invitational, where over 200 contestants and over 8,000 spectators celebrate the grilled cheese sandwich. The event has become a father to multiple regional events.

All this attention to a sandwich points out that specialty cheese doesn’t have to be — and shouldn’t be — some rarified, stuffy, upscale food. It should be enjoyed — and integrated into meals and favorite dishes. A cheeseburger, mac and cheese and, of course, grilled cheese.

There’s no reason to abandon the comfort foods of youth. Food is more than physical; it’s the memory of sitting down to a favorite dish when you got home from school or came inside from sledding on a snowy day, or when you got a special treat because you were sick in bed, or when the entire family came over for a grand Sunday brunch.

Yet it’s silly to think our favorite comfort foods will never change. As we grow up and see the world, we discover and appreciate new flavors, new tastes, new ways of doing things.

Little in life offers more satisfaction than fidelity to the old, while successfully integrating the new. Maybe that’s why the grilled cheese at Cut 432 is so wonderfully appealing.