Grilled Cheese, Please!

The definition of comfort is to soothe, console, or reassure; bring cheer. Knowing the definition of comfort makes me realize that the Grilled Cheese Sandwich is the perfect comfort food. For my job as a National Dairy Council spokesperson, I have traveled quite a bit over the past 10 years.

Over those years, I have sought comfort in Grilled Cheese Sandwiches in places across the map. The great thing about those golden brown slices of bread is that they can sandwich a number of ingredients between them and as long as they contain cheese can still fall under the standard definition of a Grilled Cheese Sandwich. And like the various places I have enjoyed these sandwiches, there are cheeses from across the map that are the perfect pairing for any filling or bread. It is easy to explore a variety of American made cow’s milk cheese at ilovecheese.com. Cheese is a great source of bone building nutrients like calcium, potassium and phosphorus as well as protein to help curb hunger and provide a feeling of satiety. But why stop with varying your cheeses? Choose a variety of breads as well. From a thick, hearty Rye to a simple sourdough each sandwich can have a personality all its own.

Probably the most memorable one I have had was the Pork Roast Grilled Cheese using Gruyere on thick toast in Orlando, Florida. Then, there was the Tuna Melt on Rye made with Provolone in Scottsdale, AZ. Then, there is the Chicken Ciabata sandwich at Charleston’s, another chain, but located close to Texas Christian University, my alma mater, in Fort Worth, TX, my hometown. The sandwich features a thick slice of Havarti cheese that is to die for…and really should be renamed the Cheese Ciabata in my opinion. My favorite hometown grilled cheese is at Reata, downtown Fort Worth. Their sandwich is made of mixed cheeses including Muenster and Gruyere with tomatoes on thick, savory bread. You can do a half sandwich and soup of which I do the tortilla soup that is impeccable and comforting in a rite all its own. However, I usually pair my grilled cheese with tomato soup such as on the menu at BJ’s, a restaurant chain new to my area, but I first sampled that delectable pairing in Norman, OK. Their Tuscan Tomato Bisque with Grilled Ham & Cheese on Parmesan crusted sourdough bread is cut in strips for dipping just like when you were a kid!

I guess the point here is that no matter where you are or what your taste, there is something about a grilled cheese sandwich, plain or fancy, that takes you back to that kitchen where your family used to make these culinary delights. That warm, safe haven where we all want to retreat on occasion to recharge, relax and revisit that inner peace that can only come from the comfort of something familiar…something like a grilled cheese sandwich.
So, pick your bread, select your cheese and warm up your skillet! From Asiago to Zabar’s Zola Crema, this April, National Grilled Cheese Month, there is a sandwich out there somewhere just waiting to console you.