Other than being forced to watch All My Children and General Hospital when my mom came home for lunch, the thing I remember most about being home sick from school was grilled cheese sandwiches. My mom would slap a couple of American cheese slices between two pieces of Wonder Bread (a.k.a. Bunny Bread), slather the sandwich with butter and fry it up in a pan till orange started to ooze out of the sides. She would serve it up with a steaming bowl of Campbell’s Chicken with Stars, a bunch of saltine crackers, a large pitcher of orange juice and another one filled with water, promising serious retribution if everything wasn’t gone by the time she got off work.
Though I still enjoy American cheese from time to time, my palate has grown and luckily, so have my choices for grilled cheese sandwiches. Over on Magazine Street (or on the Loyola campus) I can enjoy the Italian version of a grilled cheese from La Divina Gelateria. Yes, aside from a wonderful array of some of the best gelato in town, you can score yourself a “Formaggio” featuring fresh mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano lovingly pressed between two pieces of freshly baked ciabatta bread for one fabulous, crispy grilled cheese sandwich a.k.a. panino. When I went, I also got a cup of their house-made cauliflower soup lovingly prepared by their new head chef Mia Calamia.
Over on the other side of town at the end of Oak Street, Cowbell is cooking a slew of special grilled cheese sandwiches in addition to the “adult” version that’s always on the menu. One fine Saturday, I was lucky enough to sample a special with manchego, mozzarella and thin slices of roasted, organic squash melded together on buttery, crispy ciabatta bread along with a cup of curry plantain soup with mango jerk chicken. I devoured every single morsel and finished my iced tea. Too. Mama would’ve been proud.
Another great spot for an “Adult” grilled cheese is J’Anita’s at The Rendon Inn over at 4501 Eve Street. Prepare yourself for a cheese extravaganza created by a Giesecke with a sandwich featuring cheddar, pepper jack and feta with thick sliced bacon, grilled onion and tomato on sliced sourdough. Would adding a side of Chili Cheese Tots to that order be a bit over the top? Nah…
Wouldn’t I be completely remiss if I neglected to mention the sandwich at St. James Cheese Co. over on Prytania Street? Oh yes, I surely would. Conveniently, they have “Mini-Moo” grilled cheese sandwiches for the kiddies, but you’re going to want something special. I would suggest the Gruyere with caramelized onion confit grilled on multi-grain bread. But, there are so many delicious cheeses to choose from, I am sure the folks over at St. James would be willing to add whatever you wish.
*Article originally published in the November 2011 issue of Where Y’at Magazine
**La Divina Gelateria (or La Divina Italian Cafe) is now in Baton Rouge and J’Anita’s at the Rendon Inn is closed