A great, gooey gimmick

No one does over the top, gimmicky food quite like New York. There’s the giant soup dumpling you slurp with a straw, the technicolor rainbow bagel, the cookie dough scooped into cones and eaten like ice cream. The more outlandish and calorie laden the better.

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Grilled cheese fantasies come to life

And while I occasionally roll my eyes at the line of people snaking down the block at any of the places turning out these food fetish creations, I’ll be the first to admit I’ve had my share, and I too, have waited in some pretty stupid lines to get a taste of the moment’s food craze. (Cronut, I’m looking at you.)

When I heard about this next thing I immediately thought, “Oh Jesus Christ, that’s absurd” followed immediately by “I must have it.” And so my roommate and I compared schedules, nailed a date, and off we went in search of Clinton Hall‘s Flamin’ Hot Doughnut Grilled Cheese.

Made of gooey, melted mozzarella pressed between two Doughnut Project habanero bacon glazed doughnuts in place of bread, the glorious and oh-so-gluttonous flamin’ hot grilled cheese sandwich is served looped through a hook and dangled over a bowl of thick, hot tomato soup for dipping.

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Worth every last calorie.

Even though doughnuts are involved, the sweet element is minimal here, with just the tiniest, subtle sweetness coming through the layers of cheese and butter and doughy, bacony goodness. The tomato soup, which I  often find to be too runny or acidic, was neither. It was thick and creamy, just the right amount of tomatoey sweet with a peppery kick, perfect to complement the grilled cheese.

Even though Clinton Hall only offers 20 of these per day Friday through Sunday, we showed up  just after noon on a Sunday and didn’t have to fight any crowds or freeze our grilled cheese loving asses off standing outside in any lines. A couple of tables had them and obviously there was lots of gawking and picture snapping, but that’s how it goes with these food fads. But if they’re as good as this sandwich was, I don’t really care who’s watching or taking pictures or rolling their eyes. I’ll be the one licking my fingers and doing the little happy dance.

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The best, but really

Whenever something claims to be “the best” of its kind, I take it with a grain of salt. The pizza place in my neighborhood, for example, which claims to have the “best margarita?” Well, they’re just silly because a margarita, first of all, is a drink not a pizza, and second, if they were referring to the margherita, which is a pizza, then they’d be wrong again cause theirs is mediocre at best.

But I’m getting horribly off topic here (and unnecessarily hating on a local pizza joint, so sorry). The reason I’m bringing up any of this “best” claim business is because I think I may have had the absolute best grilled cheese sandwich ever this weekend and I need to relive it by writing about it.

The Bacon Cheddar Blue from Milk Truck Grilled Cheese

The Bacon Cheddar Blue from Milk Truck Grilled Cheese

The Bacon Cheddar Blue from the Milk Truck Grilled Cheese stand at Williamsburg’s Smorgasburg was intense and in my opinion, the best of its kind to ever meet my grilled cheese loving mouth. Perfection if you will: toasted rosemary pullman bread sandwiching New York state cheddar Wisconsin blue, sweet caramelized onions, thin spicy pickles and the power ingredient, thick sliced double smoked bacon.

The bread had just the right amount of crunch to complement the gooey, melted cheese oozing out, and the onions added just a hint of sweet jamminess, while the pickles, though not really spicy, lent a bright tangy flavor that I really enjoyed. The bacon? Well, c’mon, when is bacon ever anything but delicious? This bacon, all thick, smokey and juicy, was everything I could ever ask for.

I scarfed it down like it was my job and licked my fingers afterward, and now I’m here to pronounce it the best grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever eaten.  And you shouldn’t take that lightly.

Grilled cheese daydreams

It’s been a bit quiet here on the blog front. I last left those of you that care and drop in ocassionally with a post about me stuffing my face full of pie. (Feel free to re-read below.) Shortly after that, possibly as I was digesting said pie, I realized that while I always feel like I could shed a few pounds (who doesn’t?), as of lately I really have been feeling like a monstrosity of a whale. No, really. A giant, fat, pie-scarffing whale.

So for about the past week or so, I’ve been on the teeny tiniest bit of a diet. I know, so lame. But it’s actually not that bad. I’m just trying to get some good habits going in regards to my eating and maybe cut back on the sweets. (It kills me just to say that, so you know.)

But on this so-called “diet” (ugh, what a dirty icky word), I get a couple of  breaks from the healthy world and during those moments of freedom I like to dive head first into the world of delicious, gluttonous and reckless abandon. Enter The Queens Kickshaw.

I’ve been harrassing my friend Daphne about going with me to the Queens Kickshaw for monts, since they’re both in Astoria, and last week, during one of my eat-whatever-and-however-I-want meals, we finally did it. We went and had ourselves some mighty fine grilled cheese sandwiches, which are what the Queens Kickshaw specializes in.

Egg & cheese sandwich... why can't there be a diet based on this guy?

They had a classic mozzarella and cheddar version (complete with the requisite tomato soup) and some mouth-watering (no really, like a slobbering dog) sandwiches with cheeses like manchego, gruyere and fontina and other ingredients including avocado, anchovies and mushrooms.

But when I saw egg and cheese as an option, I was sold because, really, it’s practically impossible to go wrong with such a delicious marriage of foods as eggs and cheese. It’s just always awesome. Always. But this wasn’t your average corner store $2 egg and cheese sandwich that you eat when you’re hungover and on the way to work. No no. This was creamy ricotta, gruyere, egg, thyme and a sweet, slightly spicy maple hot sauce, all between soft, warm brioche.

Let me tell you, people, there’s nothing that will make you hate a diet more than the mere thought of a grilled cheese sandwich like that. I want to take ten of those sandwiches, stack them one on top of the other, unhinge my jaw like a python, and eat the whole cheesy, eggy mess.  And it would be glorious.

Until the next break from healthy eating, I’ll continue daydreaming about a world where I could be rail thin and still eat grilled cheese and egg sandwiches all day long. Sigh. A girl can dream.

A meatloaf change of heart

I can count the foods I don’t like on one hand: lentil soup, cow’s tongue, boiled peanuts and meatloaf.  Try as I might, I just can’t come around to these. Their smell, texture, taste.  Just none of it. Which is why yesterday when the beau and I stood in front of the menu at Fredi Sandwich Bar near Union Square and he ordered a meatloaf sandwich, I turned with a face of disgust, bordering on betrayal.

“Meatloaf?” I groaned. “Really? Ick. Why’d you order that?”

But when our sandwiches came out, my three cheese-bacon-and-plum-tomato-on-focaccia next to his fat meatloaf on ciabatta, I couldn’t help it. I had to try it. It just looked so good.

Seeing meatloaf in a whole new and delicious light

So putting my meatloaf prejudice aside, I bit into half off the warm bread and one of the most delicious sandwiches I’ve had in recent memory. Sensory overload in the best way. Meatloaf like I’d never experienced it before. Soft, flavorful meat, so juicy it had runaway drops streaking through my fingers and down my arms. This was not the grayish brown loaf of goopy, gravy covered, dry meat I’d seen in the past. This was something wholly different. Sure, the sharp tang of the cheddar, the slight bite of spicy mustard and roasted peppers and onions on that warm, doughy and slightly crunchy bread helped make this delicious, but really the star of the sandwich, was far and away the meatloaf. Continue reading

Which came first, the heart attack or the Scotch egg?

Every once in a while you have to throw caution to the wind and say to yourself, “I don’t care how ridiculous this is. I don’t care how fattening it might be. I don’t care if I know good and well I shouldn’t eat this. I want it and dammit, I’m going to eat it.”

Granted I say this more often than is probably healthy, it’s what first came to mind when I flipped to the food side of the menu at West Village bar Wilfie & Nell and read the description for a Scotch egg: a hard boiled egg wrapped in sage pork sausage, breaded and deep fried.

Behold, a Scotch egg!

WOA! What in the name of all things fun, fried and fatty is this about? Who cares! I’ll take one! And why stop there, when there’s grilled cheese sandwiches on the pub grub list? Add one of those too, with Irish cheddar, please.

In my own defense, I was splitting this with the boyfriend, and we were with a group of friends who were all eating the same thing. One guy even ordered two meat pies. See, I’m not the only one with a healthy appetite.

When the waitress came back with baskets of Scotch eggs and several plates of grilled cheese sandwiches, meat pies and other bar fare, I was egg-cited. (Get it? Scotch egg? Egg- cited? Meh, never mind.)

Grilled cheese sandwich: a classic for the ages

I love eating things I’ve never had before, especially if they’re foreign or weird and unusual, and on top of that I love, love, looooove grilled cheese sandwiches. Here I was, about to get both!

The egg, which came cut in quarters and with a small side of thick, wholegrain mustard, was in a word, phenomenal. How something so small could pack so much loud, unique flavor is mind-boggling to me. A little smear of the mustard on each bite, and that egg was gone in a matter of minutes, perhaps even seconds.

Mmmm warm cheesy goodness

The grilled cheese sandwich, which also came with a side of the thick, slightly spicy mustard, was great too. The cheddar, from Dublin, Ireland according to the menu, was a creamy white and not the school bus yellow most often associated with this cheese. The bread was toasted to a deep golden perfection and pressed just enough so that it wasn’t squished flat. It was hot without being scorching, just enough that it melted the cheese, making it ooze out in delicious gooey strings. Even the few pickle slices on the plate were tasty, and since they were just a little on the spicy side, Flaneur let me have them all. Win!

I had been to Wilfie & Nell before, but it was a super-packed weekend night and everyone I was with kept their consumption to the liquid variety. Actually, it was so busy that I never even saw a menu. I was just handed a beer without even knowing what this bar was capable of feeding me.  But now that I know there’s a menu and what’s found opposite of the beers and the liquors, I might have to make this a regular spot. That Scotch egg just demands to be eaten more often, no matter how ridiculous it is.