One sandwich to rule them all
February 6, 2018 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Hello. Building on the domestication of fire, stable agriculture, invention of cheese and the slicing of bread, the greatest innovation of humanity is without question the cheese sandwich. These can be uncooked, or open, or toasted or grilled. Offering popular versions and other variations, sandwiches can also be tiny, substantive, or earrings or Christmas tree decorations. Other ingredients could include balsamic blueberry, fried egg, apple, olives, mac and ham, spinach, bacon and avocado, pickle, haggis, cucumber, clementines or smoked reindeer. Or twenty slices of American cheese. Makers can be competitive or award winning, speak in Welsh, or serve you from a truck; just respect the dish and its history, even if you were expecting something else.

* Egg onion cheese sandwich
* Mature cheddar and garlic melt
* (Poster's pick) a cheese and onion sandwich
* Apple and brie grilled cheese sandwich
* Pressed and griddled cheese sandwich

In Europe, you can find the cheese sandwich in Denmark while in Italy one variation is the Tramezzini. The Croque monsieur is a classic French grilled cheese sandwich, but the Bikini is a hot ham and cheese sandwich from Catalonia. On the other hand, Sweden has the Varm Macka, though to the west in Norway perhaps try Gjetost ("Yay toast"), and in Finland there is the no nonsense/bread Juustoleipä. However, Portugal offers something to frighten even Midwest US state fair attendees in the Francesinha.

However; in dearest Britain where the rule of thumb is "if it cannot outrun you, then it becomes a sandwich filling", everyone stops work between 3:30pm and 4:15pm to enjoy the cheese sandwich-involving meal that is...

Afternoon tea
* In Cheshire, indulge in cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches
* Your cheese sandwiches will impress a potential lover when tied with a chive bow
* Glaswegians partake of cottage cheese sandwiches during their afternoon tea
* Avoid disappointing affairs and you can still be thrifty for quality
* In Mayfair, choose between salmon and cream cheese, or cucumber and cheese

Many varieties of bread can be used. For example, the bagel, flatbread, or a Pullman bread, are recommended by some; sourdough is also popular. You may also consider how the bread needs to be cut. For grilling or toasting, heat is applied in some manner; tipping your toaster can assist here, or get a specialist one such as a model from the Breville range. In a famous scene in Chef (2014), one is made which people have tried to replicate, or have written about. But who makes the best cheese sandwich, grilled or otherwise? Peter McMartin thinks it's his mother.

More recipes
* Roasted mushroom grilled cheese sounds good
* The inside-out grilled cheese sandwich looks messy
* Lobster grilled cheese
* Delicious sounding parmesan-crusted grilled cheese sandwiches
* Strawberry grilled cheese sandwiches look interesting

Canada is a great producer of cheese sandwiches. These can be found in cities including Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg and Minnesota, where the highly rated grilled cheese sandwich at Don's café was $3.99 in 2013. In Vancouver, where the grilled cheese sandwich culture is reborn, one restaurant will make you a baked toasted organic bread topped with Canadian mozzarella sandwich at lunchtime. In Ottawa's Rideau Centre, you can pick up a Caprese grilled cheese sandwich while in Edmonton, home of Armstrong cheese, you may find one used as a drinks garnish.

* Dear Britons, why do you grate your cheese on a sandwich?
* Where's the Wensleydale?
* Make my sammich interesting!
* I ate a cheese sandwich
* Should I eat it? Sharp cheddar cheese and dry-smoked hard salami sandwich edition.

Cheese is very versatile, having many non-edible uses but also forming the core sandwich filling. But, go with the most popular, or something else? You could try pepper jack, or in Wisconsin there's Limburger. There's Gouda, and in Norway you can use Nøkkelost (cumin cheese). Alpine Swiss has its fans, as do blue and feta cheeses. Why not try a goat cheese, or perhaps But whatever cheese you have to hand, no matter how much maligned, is fine.

Yet more recipes
* Large cheese sandwich tart for an old-fashioned tea (Stor Ostesandwich Til Gammeldags Tebord)
* The ultimate cheese and tomato sandwich
* A grilled pimento cheese sandwich
* A delicate broccoli frittata grilled cheese sandwich
* Caramelized onion and apple grilled cheese, perhaps?

Some places will sell you an upmarket version. One sandwich, made with cheddar blended with white truffles and sprinkled with gold dust, cost over £100, though that's cheap compared to New York (though at the other end of the scale). Large? Fifteen pounds. Unhealthy? Could be better, could be worse. Will it give you nightmares? Probably not. And how to serve? Grilled pastrami and cheese sandwich, carrot dip with dukkah and flat bread on wooden boards, perhaps. Or packed, ready for a long trip. Anyway, how's your sex life?

More AskMe
* The grilled cheese party
* Does grilling change cheese?
* Best grilled cheese sandwich?
* Need sandwich shop or cheese shop name
* Should I eat it? Wheat bread, yellow mustard, fat free mayo, precooked breaded chicken patty, and American cheese edition.

Truck culture is the best culture. In Canada, Mom's Grilled Cheese Truck prowls the streets of Vancouver. Some way south in Los Angeles, the grilled cheese truck will serve all manner of food, and a s'mores melt on brioche. In the birthplace of the modern world and sandwich, the cheese truck delivers cheesy heaven, while over in Tennessee you can be served smoked gouda, pulled pork and barbecue sauce on two slices of sourdough bread. Not forgetting Gorgonzilla in Fort Worth, and Ruthie's in New Jersey and elsewhere.

Even more recipes
* Grilled cheese with smoked Polish oscypek cheese and strawberry jam
* The essential cheese and Branston pickle sandwich
* Classy Pimento cheese finger sandwiches
* A healthy grilled cheese and spinach sandwich
* The perhaps less healthy cheese chocolate sandwich

But there are some things which are not cheese sandwiches. In Canada, Angela Bartley invented the “Grilled Cheese and Ketchup” flavour chip. Also in Canada (and elsewhere) you can find Ulker Cizivic cream cheese sandwich crackers. The state of Iowa was the birthplace of the Pop Tart and American cheese delicacy; despite police involvement, the creator went on to greater things. Though delicious-looking, the Smažený sýr from the Czech Republic is not quite a sandwich, and this is definitely not British.

* How to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich
* Grilled cheesus!
* My soul is made of grilled cheese
* And in a family newspaper!!
* "I think we could have used less sandwich meat with better nesting"

(Post inspired by many of the comments in the Metatalktail Hour: Comfort Food thread)
posted by Wordshore (103 comments total) 208 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Kitteh at 2:40 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]

cucumber sandwiches are so gross, i don't understand how they came to represent cultured fancitude.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:40 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]

Post of the century, Wordshore!
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:41 PM on February 6 [24 favorites]

Required ancillary reading: the epic Reddit rant on the difference between grilled cheeses and melts.
posted by nakedmolerats at 2:56 PM on February 6 [15 favorites]

anyway under my totalitarian dictatorship all grilled cheeses will require duxelles by law

actually all sandwiches in general
posted by poffin boffin at 3:00 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]

What Ziggy said!
posted by Melismata at 3:00 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]

I have grilled cheese for lunch most days. I like to vary or mix cheeses and breads. I used to make fried bologna and cheese with onions, but I can't be arsed frying bologna these days. One of the dining halls at university used to make the loveliest patty melt with two hamburger patties on huge slices of marble rye, usually on a Wednesday. Whenever I can't find a good vegetarian dish on a restaurant menu, I can almost always get a reuben, hold the cornèd beef. We used to go camping with my mother's boyfriend, and he'd make cheese and hot dog hobo pies over the campfire; I always think if them when I see a bonfire.

I like grilled cheese, I guess is what I'm saying.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:05 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]

I love this thread. The only thing I love more is cheese sandwiches!
posted by narancia at 3:14 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]

I've not clicked many of the links but boy am I craving a toastie.

The craving is made worse by being sold a substandard one the other day. It was marketed as a toastie but was in fact merely eggs and a stingy amount of barely melted cheese held between 2 slices of toasted white bread. This is not a toastie. A real toastie is made on bread that has been buttered on both sides, compressed or even sealed at the edges during the toasting process, and oozes melty cheese when you bite into it.

Around these parts, best obtained from Toastface Grillah, and yes Ghostface Killah has been there.
posted by pianissimo at 3:28 PM on February 6 [10 favorites]

Wordshore, I love this post (and will love it even more when I've had time to click into ALL the links), as I love all your food-related posts, and perhaps all your posts generally even, but I must admit I was a tiny bit disappointed that your "Hello" link didn't go to Melvyn Bragg introducing an In Our Time on cheese sandwiches.
posted by kristi at 3:36 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]

Was expecting this to be under the "sex life" link.
posted by The otter lady at 3:52 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]

When I'm not eating cheese sandwiches I like to read about cheese sandwiches. MeFites!:

- What is your preferred cheese sandwich flavour (the type of cheese, anything else in it)?
- What is the best one you've ever eaten?
- Do you make your own at home, or obtain your supplies from dunno your cheese sandwich dealer?
posted by Wordshore at 3:54 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]

OMG, I love this post!
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 3:56 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]

The otter lady, that’s the grilled cheese with hardcore taters.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 3:57 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]

Excellent post but this is a little weird to parse:

Canada is a great producer of cheese sandwiches. These can be found in cities including Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg and Minnesota

Are you saying Minnesota is in Canada? Because as far as I know we haven't annexed them yet.
posted by Ashwagandha at 4:00 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]

Are you saying Minnesota is in Canada?

It is. They decided during the Superbowl to move.
posted by Wordshore at 4:04 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]

The best cheese sandwich is a cheese and promite jaffle.

This is not a common opinion, however it is correct.
posted by deadwax at 4:06 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]

Here is how I make a lemon rosemary grilled cheddar cheese sandwich. This is inspired by a place by my work that used to do something similar, but with pear compote.


* Sharp white cheddar (mine came from CostCo, the Coastal stuff)
* Rosemary bread (mine came from Trader Joe's)
* Lemon curd (another thing from Trader Joe's)
* Butter (I did unsalted, the cheddar is plenty salty enough)


* Toaster Oven
* Frying pan and oven


* Lightly toast one side of the rosemary bread slices in the toaster oven
* On one slice of rosemary bread, put a pile of chopped up white cheddar chunks on the toasted side. Put it back into the toaster oven until the cheese gets pretty melty.
* While that's going on, spread lemon curd on the other piece of bread, on the toasted side.
* Put a pat of butter in your frying pan and melt it
* Take your melted cheesy bread out of the toaster oven, put both pieces together so the cheese of one side is against the lemon curd of the other
* Put your sandwich into the pan, swish it around, flip it to the other side--this will make sure that both sides have butter as you pan toast.
* Toast both sides of your sandwich in the pan with the butter, flipping as necessary. When it's toasted to your liking, put it on a plate.
* Tada!

When I only have normal bread, I just compensate by putting rosemary on top of the cheese as it toasts and on top of the lemon curd.
posted by foxfirefey at 4:26 PM on February 6 [10 favorites]

It is. They decided during the Superbowl to move.

I was unaware of this plebiscite. Carrying on cheesing.
posted by Ashwagandha at 4:32 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]

Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh...

I don't give a shit about our sportsball teams, but I will forever be proud to be from a city that looks at food and doesn't ask why you'd put fries on it, but why not.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:34 PM on February 6 [10 favorites]

Was expecting this to be under the "sex life" link.

Same here!
Related MeFi thread.
posted by rewil at 4:42 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry Wordshore but I have had to flag this post as "offensive" and the mods will be in contact with you soon. In your opening list of humankind's greatest achievements you neglected to acknowledge Dog, which is in many ways the ur-achievement.

(I jest of course. This post is amazing.)
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:42 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]

Ah but it IS in there-- under "In a family newspaper!"
Well done, Wordshore. Well done.
posted by The otter lady at 4:43 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]

As luck would have it, tonight is soup and sandwiches. Nothing fancy. American process grilled cheese on white. Lots of butter. A side of tomato basil soup. At least once a week at our place. Carry on...
posted by jim in austin at 4:46 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]

Despite the fact that I know I should be a vegan, this is extremely my shit. thanks!
posted by allthinky at 4:49 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]

I did not know "Dog" was a type of cheese (sandwich) looks pretty tasty!
posted by supermedusa at 5:09 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]

I have always thought in the back of my mind, Cheese and Onions.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:10 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]

Oh, cheese and pickle! We are renovating the kitchen soon and making an effort to Eat the Food and Use the Stuff but I’m tempted to buy a small jar of Branston Pickle anyhow. It’s perfect with a bit of sharp cheddar.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:11 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]

The best damn sandwich I ever ate. yt

You too, huh?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:12 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]

I love grilled cheese. grew up on kraft singles with white bread. I've since moved on to more esoteric combos but for a quick/easy/camping sammie you cannot beat:

*Orowheat Wheatberry Bread
*grated combo of pepper jack and sharp cheddar
* optional: tomato, or ham, or green onions. not necessary but tasty

also if you have not had the grilled macaroni n cheese sandwich you are not living your best life. it is DIVINE!!
posted by supermedusa at 5:12 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]

Now I regret the oatmeal I had for dinner. I could have had a grilled cheese!
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 5:17 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]

- What is your preferred cheese sandwich flavour (the type of cheese, anything else in it)?

Well, first, American cheese on white bread with tomato soup and a pickle on the side, because that's my whole childhood on a plate.

But secondly, on grown up days which are decreasing in frequency: cream cheese, garlic powder (or whatever), thyme, black pepper and nutmeg on some decent bread, smushed, like a panini.

Cream cheese actually melts! I had previously thought it existed mainly to cool down bagels.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:26 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]

I just had some roasted chicken before falling down this rabbit hole of golden nirvana.
Thanks, Wordshore! *must check kitchen for rosemary, have the lemon curd...*
posted by TrishaU at 5:37 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]

I'll admit it, I cheat a bit to make a grilled ham and cheese sandwich perfectly grilled. I still butter the bread (buttermilk white), two slices of ham and an equal amount of swiss cheese, but I use a waffle iron panini style. It takes all the stress out of flipping and when the cheese melts and runs out the edges it makes a nice crust in just a few places. It's currently my son's favorite school lunch.
posted by OHenryPacey at 5:45 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]

Best grilled cheese is pepperjack cheese + bacon + avocado. CANNOT be beat in any way.

Also, I kind of agree with Reddit guy that tuna and cheese is not a grilled cheese, but I hold that bacon and avocado are toppings and not the primary component of the sandwich and thus my bacon avocado cheese concoction is a grilled cheese. Because I say so.
posted by brook horse at 5:55 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]

I cannot wait to make a cheese and onion sandwich this week. I wish I had known this combination sooner!
posted by gucci mane at 6:10 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]

Trader Joe’s makes a chili jam that’s really great on a grilled cheese. I went through a period of baking loaf after loaf of rye bread and making grilled cheese on it. The chili jam was a real enhancer.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:14 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]

I am eating a cream cheese bagel right now, which I have just realised is a cheese sandwich, which makes it taste even more delicious
posted by destrius at 6:29 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]

Cheddar cheese and brown mustard on white bread, which I didn't realize at the time was the "we're out of lunchmeat" option, is one of my favorite childhood lunch things.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:42 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]

All other advancements are merely to bring new innovations to the cheese sandwich.

Cars: allow ingredients for sandwiches to be transported more easily

Electric light: see easily at night to better cook cheese sandwiches

Internet: trade sandwich tips
posted by yohko at 6:52 PM on February 6 [13 favorites]

Is a pizza an open face cheese sandwich?
posted by fedward at 6:55 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]

This is a humbling and edifying post that is also making me very very peckish. I must add that
Jack Aubrey's and Stephen Maturin's toasted cheese is canon as well, at least for those on a man-o'-war.
posted by conscious matter at 6:58 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]

My personal secret for a perfectly grilled sandwich is to find the setting on your burner where the sandwich cooks 85 seconds per side. That gives enough time for the cheese to melt evenly. And use a lid on the skillet so you get a little steaming.
posted by fedward at 7:06 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]

I love your posts, Wordshore. Every time I read one I feel like I'll seem a bit less like a tourist if I ever make it over the pond.
posted by SystematicAbuse at 7:10 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]

I now know what I'll be compelled to eat for lunch tomorrow. Luckily I've got an excellent country style ham to round out the 3 year old cheddar and whole grain bread. Can I eat lunch now?
posted by mollweide at 7:21 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]

On the weekends, when I am elbow deep in baking and cooking, Mr. Lemon_Icing has to fend lunches for himself. And being the lovely Bristol boy that he is, he swears by his favourite crisp butty : salt 'n vinegar chips with cheddar cheese; gently toasted (or not). When he's desperate, he'll compromise by using my sea salt potato chips.
posted by lemon_icing at 7:29 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]

Can I eat lunch now?

Yes. Yes, you can eat lunch now.

It's 3:30 at night here in England, and I am on badger patrol while eating a nice Red Leicester on malted wheat sandwich. Lunch is a state of mind.
posted by Wordshore at 7:32 PM on February 6 [15 favorites]

Chilli jam might be nice, and onion jam too. But what you really really need is a lot of this on your sammich to turn it into something that makes angels jealous and your farts into things of wonder and dismay.
posted by ninazer0 at 7:39 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]

i just bought some bread and cheddar for lunch!
posted by destrius at 7:42 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]

Lunch is a state of mind.

I find that most foods I prefer to eat slot nicely into the lunch category, but the reality is I just ate a hearty bowl of lentil soup for dinner and should let things rest a while. I'm counting down the hours until lunch becomes a reasonable option. Hopefully I'll sleep between now and then.
posted by mollweide at 7:44 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]

G-pa's tuna melt, one of the regulars when G-ma was at her PEO meetings, and the top of my comfort food list.

Tuna, mixed with miracle whip and finely chopped dill pickles, sharp cheddar slices, all on multi-grain bread, buttered on both sides and fried up in a skillet.

Know what I'm having for dinner tomorrow.
posted by calamari kid at 8:01 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]

Actually, I'm reminded that one of my comfort foods used to be a chicken, cheese and banana toasted sandwich...

Dammit, Wordshore!
posted by ninazer0 at 8:19 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]

My fav is white cheddar with thinly sliced tart apple on sourdough. Havarti is pretty tasty, too. Now that I am in Sweden I’m eating a lot more cheese sandwiches on cranberry bread but not grilled cheese sandwiches. Clearly that must change. Thank you, Wordshore!
posted by Bella Donna at 8:20 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]

That reminds me, ninazer0, my kid loves topping plain cheese pizza with banana slices. I bet they would be tasty in grilled cheese as well.
posted by Bella Donna at 8:22 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]

I'm not saying anyone should eat a frico grilled cheese on a regular basis, but now and then is okay.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:44 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]

I have not actually had a grilled mac and cheese sandwich, but one of my favorite comfort foods in days of yore was to butter a slice of bread, bend it into a U, and put hot mac and cheese in the middle. Mmm-mmm-mmm.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:00 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]

In Chicago, you can go toCheesiest Pub and Grub for some serious cheese comfort.

posted by AlexiaSky at 9:06 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]

All my cheese sandwich memories are flooding back!

The first meal I ate in England was a cheese toastie and chips. The sandwich was made in one of those pocket sandwich irons. Although I'd had a meal and tons of snacks on the plane, I was still hungry and jet lagged and my innards were in a different time zone from my outards. I scarfed up that cheese toastie like it was going out of style, and it gave me the strength to get to the hotel.

I went to high school in a town with a large Roman Catholic community. Lots of people abstained from meat on Fridays, mostly because it had become a habit and a tradition. All the restaurants in the area had fish and vegetarian specials on Fridays. In our school cafeteria, Friday lunch was always a choice of battered fish fillets or grilled cheese and tomato soup. I'm not sure of the specifics, but the grilled cheese was somehow made in an oven, with thick, golden slabs of government cheese. On Monday, if you ordered the leftover fish or grilled cheese you got double portions. They reheated the sandwiches in the same oven, by some arcane alchemical process that didn't burn them, but just made them feel more dense and curled up slightly at the corners. They were so substantial you could dunk them in your soup and not lose a crumb. It was the best comfort food in a place where you often needed comforting.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:11 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]

What is your preferred cheese sandwich flavour

That's a hard one! I guess it would be half sharp cheddar and half Jack cheese, on a substantial white bread like Heidelberg white or sourdough, Arnold's Country White, or homemade white bread. For store-bought breads, the more grams of fiber per serving, the better. Real butter, of course, and a lid for the skillet so all that steam helps melt the cheese. Cut into two isosceles triangles. Tomato soup for dunking optional.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:26 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]

Lunch is a state of mind.

Time is an illusion; lunchtime doubly so.

Cheese sandwiches, however, are the fundamental Stuff of the universe.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:28 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]

I don’t know what you people are on about. All your truffle oil, and pimento, and chunks of moldy old milk fat cannot improve upon the perfection of an individually wrapped square of American cheese melted between two toasted pieces of white bread. Like a fine Swiss watch, the ingredients have literally been precisely engineered for the purpose of producing the perfect cheese sandwich. To deny it is to deny the power of technology and the Scientific Method and places you among the vaccine deniers and the flat earthers with your poorly founded and paranoid skepticism.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:38 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]

Lunch is a state of mind.

Lunch is AT NOON ( localtime ), because I 16/8 Intermittent Fast, and that's the first meal in 16 hours, since last night's supper. Parenthetically, this solves my "grazing non-stop" problem.

I'll bring a doctor's note if there's any issues with that.
posted by mikelieman at 10:11 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]

I don't eat classical cheese sandwiches because I don't butter bread, but I do really like quesadillas!

(runs away)
posted by batter_my_heart at 11:33 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]

Flagged as fantastic. Favorited. Bookmarked.

I was recently in Havana, and hungry as hell. We were near the local zoo and found a single simple little cafe to eat in - it wasn't fancy by any stretch of the imagination. The only thing I could eat on the menu was a cheese sandwich (I'm vegetarian). I was expecting a shitty american style white bread with unimpressive cheese. Instead the sandwich was grilled, the cheese was tasty as hell, and the bread was seriously good. It cost me about a dollar. For the rest of the trip cheese sandwiches (grilled by default) were my new go-to for food (my old go-to was a plate of spaghetti with a generous portion of cheese for about the a dollar fifty).
posted by el io at 12:33 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]

The Brazilians have a cheese puff that simplifies the process down to "make bread with cheese in it" to wonderful effect.
posted by chavenet at 3:02 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]

I can't eat dairy the the cheese envy is fierce.
posted by theora55 at 6:17 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]

I am shocked, shocked! to see Australia's contribution to toasted sandwiches of the cheesy variety spurned so. The jaffle iron, an Australian invention, gave compressed toasties the nickname of "jaffles" in my home country, which became a staple of campfire cookery and, once electric sandwich makers came along, of the home kitchen (although in some places the Australian company Breville's electric jaffle iron gave rise to "Brevilles" as an even newer nickname). The classics are the cheese jaffle, the cheese and tomato jaffle, the ham and cheese jaffle, and—for those who like consuming fillings with the same temperature and consistency as boiling lava—the cheese and baked bean jaffle. But nowadays people come up with all sorts of crazy variants, some of which actually dare not to include cheese. What, I ask you, is the point of warm fillings where nothing has melted. (Banana and Nutella jaffles get a pass because Nutella melts.)

But the best toasted cheese sandwiches I ever ate were an un-jaffled variety from the small island country of Tonga. They're still the main reason I bother to buy spring onions (/scallions).

Top toasty tip: spread the outsides with mayo, not butter, before toasting.
posted by rory at 7:09 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]

The Croque monsieur is a classic French grilled cheese sandwich, but the Bikini is a hot ham and cheese sandwich from Catalonia.

Outside Catalonia, the ham and cheese sandwich is called a mixto. But anyway, we're more into putting food that is not cheese in thick baguettes (bocata de calamares, pepito de ternera, bocadillo de tortilla de patata, and so on, and of couse Catalans also enjoy pa amb tomàquet). I think it's because a large percent of Spain is rather arid so sheep milk cheeses are more prevalent and while cured cheese and serrano ham are lovely together, sheep milk cheeses aren't as melty.
posted by sukeban at 7:12 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]

This post is giving me taste memories and a craving for the cheese sandwiches my mom (who is from the Commonwealth) used to make us for road trips: grated cheddar with butter and mustard and chopped green onions between two slices of some hearty bread. As we got older, the sandwiches became a running joke (but goddamn if I ever stopped loving them), because I had never seen anyone make a cheese sandwich like that in the US. So thank you, Wordshore, for giving me this new insight.

Now I need to remember to buy bread. I think I know what I must eat sometime soon.
posted by ultranos at 7:26 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]

cucumber sandwiches are so gross

Weehawken, dawn; guns, drawn.
posted by cooker girl at 7:57 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]

And now I'm for sure going here for lunch today. Not necessarily because it's the best grilled cheese in all the land, but because it's close and I can get a little side of creamy tomato basil soup to dip the sandwich in. And because now I want nothing more than grilled cheese for lunch.
posted by cooker girl at 8:08 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]

Top toasty tip: spread the outsides with mayo, not butter, before toasting.

I tried that once, on the basis of some previous post where that was mentioned, and I wasn't impressed. It made the sandwich taste and feel greasy - and not in a good way. I'm sticking with butter, thanks.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:20 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]

Sweet baby cheesus, this post.
posted by drlith at 8:20 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]

i don't have any bread and it's cold and wet outside and now ALL I WANT is a grilled cheese sandwich

and i'm sitting here recollecting the finest sandwiches i have had in my time, all of which are from restaurants either far away or lamentably closed, or both

i've eaten things you people wouldn't believe. sharp cheddar on perfect sourdough with mac and cheese and potato chips, and barbecued brisket. what was, essentially, an entire classical fondue, emmenthal and swiss, encased in a perfectly toasted baguette dripping liberally with butter, ruining my shirt. cheese beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. all those sandwiches lost in time, like tears in rain.
posted by halation at 8:22 AM on February 7 [7 favorites]

Also, I can't believe we're 80-some comments in and unless I've overlooked it, no one has mentioned this other previously.
posted by drlith at 8:26 AM on February 7 [5 favorites]

I don’t know what you people are on about. All your truffle oil, and pimento, and chunks of moldy old milk fat cannot improve upon the perfection of an individually wrapped square of American cheese melted between two toasted pieces of white bread.


Especially with a nice bowl of tomato soup.
posted by briank at 8:37 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]

Chicagoans, I heartily recommend the grilled cheese from The Fat Shallot food truck (also at Revival Food Hall in the loop). Sourdough, Muenster, caramelized onions, spinach. Bacon optional but, duh, why wouldn't you?
posted by dnash at 8:43 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]

Caramelized onions I can get on board with.
posted by cooker girl at 8:47 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]

Bless you, good sir, for this scrumptious post
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:51 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]

Grilled cheese and tomato soup FTW!
posted by ShakeyJake at 9:16 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]

The strangest - and nastiest - sandwich I had recently was cheese and pickle.

UK readers may be familiar with the "Toby Carvery" up-market chain of eating establishments, and it was in one of these that I was served a cheese and pickle sandwich consisting of two doorsteps of white bread containing a small amount of tasteless grated cheese and a scraping of Branston... along with three roast potatoes, a large Yorkshire pudding and a jug of gravy.

Talk about carb overload. The ratio of bread to cheese must have been 50:1, and it was the most indigestible thing I've seen for a long time.
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 9:20 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]

And possibly the best sandwich I've had was the chip buttie at Pete's Eats in Llanberis. Take one slice of white bread, spread with marge, place flat on plate. Pile chips in a mound on top of bread until in danger of overflowing, then balance a second slice of bread on top and pretend you can pick it up and eat it.

One of those, along with a pint mug of strong tea, was just the thing after a day on the hills. (Or if the weather was too bad, instead of a day on the hills)
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 9:22 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]

And that's not carb overload??
posted by cooker girl at 9:26 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]

The strangest - and nastiest - sandwich I had recently was cheese and pickle.

Huh - really?!

UK readers may be familiar with the "Toby Carvery"...

OH! Gotcha; that is ... not the best of chains. See the menu description, followed by what actually came, in the pictures with this review for example.

There's one not far from here, and occasional work colleagues whose criteria is price and convenience but definitely not quality insisted on dining there a few years back. It was ... fuel for my body, I guess. What stuck in the mind (as opposed to my colon) was someone a few tables over complaining about the quality of their meal and the server replying "That's a bit unreasonable; this isn't a Wetherspoon, you know".
posted by Wordshore at 9:36 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]

A more specific search throws up (no pun intended) two reviews for cheese sandwiches at branches of Toby Carvery:

- Stoke on Trent way.
- Taunton.

Please, visitors to Ye Olde Englande. Don't go to a mediocre pub chain for your cheese sandwich. Go to a proper pub, or an independent café or sandwich shop. Or visit a bakery and delicatessen for the ingredients and make your own.
posted by Wordshore at 9:53 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]

I can confidently state that the grilled cheese sandwich (sour-white bread, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses) and soup (creamy tomato basil with a little spicy kick) I just consumed was AMAZING.

I also got a little side salad to counteract the sedative effect of the metric ton of cheese I just ate.
posted by cooker girl at 9:57 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]

For the pictures especially, the recipe, and to be honest the name of the website: Mustardy Grilled Cheese.
posted by Wordshore at 10:11 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]

But the best toasted cheese sandwiches I ever ate were an un-jaffled variety from the small island country of Tonga.

There's an awesome dish they serve at the Polynesian Resort hotel at Walt Disney World. It's an inches-thick slab of sourdough bread with bananas stuffed into a hollow in the middle, dipped in egg batter, fried in oil, rolled in cinnamon sugar, and served with a little jug of fresh strawberry compote. They call it Tonga Toast.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:25 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]

One of the many joys of homegrown tomato season is a sandwich of freshly picked, sliced tomato dusted liberally with cracked black pepper; Cotswold cheese; and a healthy shmear of basil mayo (a handful of basil from the garden, chopped up and muddled into good mayonnaise, enlivened by a spritz of lemon juice, all set aside in the fridge to marry for a while). Pile this all on a hearty, heavy crumbed wheat bread, and it is your payoff for all the work you did planting and pruning those tomato plants.

If I'm feeling really crazy, I'll slice a homegrown cuke on there too.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:51 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]

Naturally, for fresh tomato sandwiches, eating over the sink is the established practice.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:57 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]

Still reelling from the cheese toastie I had at Kappacasian's in the Burough Market last summer.
Best ever.
posted by Mr.Me at 11:56 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]

What a terrific post, Wordshore. What an amazing amount of work you have to put this post together. Post of the century indeed. There are hours of joyous reading ahead. And the weekend approaches!

My strongest memory of a cheese sandwich was back in about 1965 when I used to have swimming practice at the local swimming pool in Dunedin, New Zealand. It was made from thin white sliced bread and filled with a soft, chewy cheese mixture, folded in half, toasted, and the smeared lightly with soft butter on the outside so that it melted into the sandwich. After a few hard of swimming, this was the most delicious thing I ever tasted. Over 50 years later the taste and feeling of those toasted cheese sandwiches remains. I suspect it was a variation of the famous Southland cheese roll which for many from that part of New Zealand is regarded as a cultural icon, similar to pavlova and mince pies.
posted by vac2003 at 12:52 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]

My lunch today was The Big Stink from O Cheeze: blue cheese, blue gorgonzola, gorgonzola, honey, pear. I highly recommend it.
posted by soelo at 12:59 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]

Grilledcheesesocial has a pretty awesome selection of cheesy-carby-gooey goodness on show.
posted by phigmov at 9:44 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]

the "Toby Carvery" up-market chain of eating establishments

Really? I trust you were being ironic. There is one near me, it does a reasonable all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet which is decent enough so long as you watch our for fresh items being put out and grab them before they have matured under the hot lamps. I'd put ours on a par with Wetherspoons as being "OK for the money".

My fridge currently contains Red Leicester, Blue Stilton and Manchego (brought back from Spain).
posted by epo at 4:17 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]

A few more links to things cheese sandwich related (all contain pictures because pictures of cheese because MeFites):

* In Grinnell, Iowa: Toasted artisan bread packed with cheddar, provolone, herbed goat cheese, strawberry-rhubarb jam, kale and spiced pecans.
* The Cheese Bar in Houston, as featured in a webzine for Houston hipsters, and more.
* A grilled cheese sandwich challenge in Maine.
* The sandwich was ham and cheese, according to police.
* From the land of amateur cricket, trauma over a cheese roll.
* "The New York based website praised Meltz for its Ultimate Meltz special, that features white cheddar, mozzarella, fontina, provolone, goat, and Gorgonzola cheese."

And ... heck, the pictures, the pictures ... the winners of the annual Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Academy recipe contest.
posted by Wordshore at 5:56 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]

More cheese...
"What did neolithic workers eat after a hard day at Stonehenge? Sweet pork and rich cheese"
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:04 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]

One time under duress I made a mozzarella grilled cheese sandwich on potato bread. I've neer made another one: it was so bland and not-quite-right and definitely a waste of expensive mozzarella, but it was also so-- melty and soft, almost pillowy even, gently sweet and gently salty. The ur-grilled cheese is obviously sharp cheddar and whole-grain sandwich bread. But this one is like a siren song. I can't go back there, but still it sings to me.
posted by athirstforsalt at 1:26 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]

Add a smear of pizza sauce and maybe a slice of pepperoni.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:22 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]

Does anyone else ever microwave their cheese sandwiches? I kinda like the stodgy steamed bread effect when I want melted cheese right now. You have to flip it as soon as it comes out, otherwise it'll glue itself to the plate, and watch out if your bread has seeds in it, because they'll be a thousand degrees.
posted by lucidium at 3:32 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]

If we're talking non-grilled cheese sandwiches, I've had some lovely capreses in my time. One standout was at an outdoor cafe at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and another at the resataurant at the Museum of the City of London. They both came after days of intense walking, though, so anything edible would probably have tasted like ambrosia.

Then there was the delicious cheese and pickle on buttered white bread that I got from a cart at Westminster Abbey and ate sitting on a 1,000-year-old monk's tomb, overlooking the green where Cromwell was posthumously drawn and quartered.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:57 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]

This just in:

ONE OF NEW ZEALAND’S BEST-KNOWN local cheesemakers, Mainland Cheese, is enticing dairy enthusiasts with free cheese these days. The catch? A test of one’s patience: You’ll need to successfully complete a 2,000-piece puzzle.

Earlier this week, the creative agency Colenso BBDO unveiled a head-scratcher of a promotional campaign for the cheesemaker entitled “the Mainland 2,000 Piece Voucher.” It invited cheese-lovers to get their hands on free cheese, as soon as they complete a complicated puzzle depicting a cheese. In their words, the puzzle takes “almost as long to make as our cheese does.” Anyone who finishes a puzzle can redeem it for free cheese.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:44 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]

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