Sunday, July 25, 2010

Foodbuzz 24x24: Grown Up Grilled Cheese

Two things that always remind me of being a kid are grilled cheese and lemonade. I doubt any of us are lacking in childhood grilled cheese experiences. Whether it was a slice of kraft american cheese stuck between two pieces of wonderbread served with hot campbell's tomato soup or my little sister's inspired grilled cheese with mashed potato inside. But what happens to grilled cheese once it grows up? How can we transform an ordinary sandwich into something mature, and sophisticated? On this fine July night we attempted just that with Grown Up Grilled Cheese.

I have had the pleasure of starting a small series of food-inspired dinner parties that revolve around a central type of food with the lovely men of Observational Gastrophysics and Friends.
First there was Haute oats, then there was [Sushi] Rollin with my homies. John McGee, Naveen Sinha and Sarah Douglas were the geniuses behind Grown-Up Grilled Cheese and we picked a date that fit into all of our schedules and ran with it.

Apparently July 24th worked out well for Foodbuzz as well, and soon after our decision was made I received their email for 24x24 Submissions. Hey-if we were going to have a grilled-cheese party, might as well also raise some money for a charitable cause! Normally Foodbuzz will give the winners $250 reimbursement for their party, but this month that money goes to victims of the Gulf Coast Oil Spill. I can get behind that!

Who: Good Friends, and lovers of all things food and cocktail-related. a delightful mix of Stanford Alums, Harvard Grad students, BU Undergrads, Bio/chemistry/physics/nutrition/pre-med academics, and artists. Bright, Brilliant People.
What: Grown Up Grilled Cheese- DIY Grilled Cheese. Bring your own cheese, and a topping, and don't forget what you learned in Kindergarten about sharing.
Why: because we're mature, but still nostalgic
Where: The McGee-Douglas Residence, Somerville, MA.
When: July 24th, 2010. A very hot and humid day in the metro boston area.

On a hot evening, one must cool down before they begin to heat up the house even more. My solution? Lemonade-the quintessential summer beverage, but to keep with the theme, with an adult twist.

Rhubarb Vodka Lemonade
  • 1 bottle of fine Vodka (I used Karlsson's Gold Potato Vodka)
  • 2 stems of Rhubarb
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • Seltzer Water
  • Sweetener of choice to taste.
8 hours prior to party, chop rhubarb and immerse in vodka. Let sit. Vodka will turn a lovely shade of pale pink, at which point you can either remove life-less rhubarb or keep it in place. In a pitcher mix vodka, fresh lemon juice, seltzer water, and sweetener of choice ( I used stevia), until you reach desired tartness. Best Served over ice, outside.

If you don't already, find a friend that has a porch and roof access.

A bit on the warm side for hot tomato soup, we first cooled down with gazpacho and adult lemonade.

The siren song of gooey cheese lured us from our nice rooftop perch back down into the kitchen as guests took control of the stove and pulled together the pieces of what everyone brought, and assembled their own unique grilled cheese creations.
Bread-From Clear Flour Bakery- Olive Rolls, Whole Wheat, Sourdough, Pain Meunier, Seeded 7 Grain. Also a homemade loaf of cheesy bread.
Cheese- Dubliner, Vegetable Ash, Munster, Brie, Jalopeno, Swiss, Gruyere, Brie, Buffalo wing cheese, tomato basil Cheddar, goat cheese, havarti and too many more to keep track of. Formaggio's Kitchen saw a small dent from this party I'm sure.

Add-Ins- kiwi, apple, tomato, spicy cranberry relish, apple cider jam, onion jam, 77% dark chocolate, Wild Boar Bacon ("Why bother eating it if it didn't try to kill you first?"), pico de gallo, new mexican green chilis, peppadew peppers, mushrooms, avocado.
Drinks: The Cocktail enthusiasts (mostly John McGee, John Rutherford and Michael Betancourt) kept all the guests' drink needs satisfied, recreated the classics and were innovative with basil, creme de violette, and spicy cranberry relish (not all at once!)
Bourbon, tequila and chartreuse were emphasized and drawn from this beautiful bookshelf/liquor cabinet
Pabst and were also spied in the fridge. Bros may have iced bros.
Bubbly was also popped

Turn on some tunes [Everything from Theivery Corporation to JayZ] and let everyone get a grillin' (due to some silly building rules, we rocked the skillet method of grilling cheese)

Sandwich Spottings:
  • Brie and Apple Cider Jam
  • Smores-marshmellow with hershey chocolate on 7 grain
  • Sourdough with dubliner cheese, wild boar bacon and apple slices
  • Chedder and Mozzerella with mushrooms
  • Buffalo Wing Cheese on Whole Wheat
  • Kiwi with goats milk cheese
  • Open-faced with pico de gallo
the best thing about grilled cheese is that it can be eaten formally, sitting down. or it can become more casual and be eaten standing up.
and if you can't decide what to make, make several small!
you thought grilled cheese couldn't be sexy? think again my friend.
john and michael win for the first sandwich made.
Teresa gets extra points for traveling the furthest for this party. Wyo-> Bos
Good people, good music, good bread, good cheese, good drinks-what more does one need?

But you don't eat cheese.... Because I am not a cheese gourmet and definitely do not want to get in the way of people and their cheese of choice Naveen and I delved alone into the realm of vegan cheeses
daiya (which I find taste surprisingly like cheap chedder popcorn, also eaten as a youngin)
and Vegan Gourmet
1. Pain Meunier with Daiya, granny smith apple and apple cider jelly. Sweet, tart and savory.
2. a mexican grilled cheese, also known as a quesadillo, with new mexican peppers, fresh pico de gallo, and spicy vegan cheese. Best dipped into cold gazpacho.

Cooldown After making a very hot kitchen even hotter with lots of bodies, and stove heat, we all escaped up to the roof to cool off, cocktails in hand, under the full moon. Catching up with old friends, making new friends, and enjoying the night.

Dessert: For the final course, a round of smore's grilled cheese. Marshmallows and Hershey's chocolate, just for old times sake.

Cheers Dears!
here's to a quick oil spill relief and future dinner parties!

A HUGE thank you to everyone that came, and to John and Sarah for letting us use their lovely apartment. You are all loved.

Need inspiration for your next dinner party? check out past 24x24-there are some great ideas!

What's the best dinner party you have ever attended or hosted? We're working on August's theme now!

*** this is much more of a foodie post than a nutrition post, and is by no means entirely plant-based. Part of a healthy relationship with food and your body is your ability to enjoy a meal, to enjoy time spent with friends and the quality of food presented rather than worrying and obsessing over the nutritional content of a meal. If you're just dying to know more about nutrition of cheese, i ran across this yesterday. Check it out***


Teresa said...

What a fun party--great food and great people! Awesome pics too :) Wish I could be here for August's party!

Pure2Raw Twins said...

Party looks like a huge success! Great job! All the food looks great!

Michelle @ Find Your Balance said...

Cute! We did this once with PB sandwiches :-)