FROM A TRUCK
One of my favorite lunches as a kid was my mom’s “cheese dreams” – a grilled cheese sandwich made w/ Velveeta and wonderfully wonderful white Wonder Bread. She’d slab butter on the outside of the bread and ‘grill’ it in the frying pan, pushing down on the sandwich w/ her trusty spatula, squashing it so the cheese would begin to ooze out of the edges.
I’ve never forgotten those lunches and have never stopped loving grilled cheese whether my mom’s way or a ‘gourmet’ way…
My friend Michael knows this - so, this year for my birthday, he took me to LA’s popular grilled cheese truck for lunch. Yup – a truck…a truck that travels to different locations around town each day. This day it was in my ‘hood.’ Now, you’ve probably read about the latest trend of food trucks in various cities, but I had yet to eat at one… so I put on my best baggie linen trousers, All-Star sneakers and white tee and off we went.
Parked on a Toluca Lake side street adjacent to a main ‘business’ drag – we arrived shortly after noon to find that a long line had already formed…
I’m not a “wait-on-line-for-anything” kind of person, but it was a beautiful, sunny day and we were determined to keep on truckin’ - so we got in line and did the "wait" thing til it was our turn to order… a half-hour later we were at the truck’s window pondering our choices on the “Melty Menu:”
Plain and Simple Melts made w/ your choice of cheese from American to brie to cheddar to Habanero Jack (prices ranging from $3.00 to $5.50 depending on the cheese)… or
a Cheesy Mac Melt on French bread - mac & cheese w/ sharp cheddar, or the truck’s “signature” sandwich – mac & cheese w/ the addition of BBQ smoked pork & caramelized onions… $5.50 and $7.50 respectively… or
what about a Brie Melt on black pepper potato bread w/ fig paste and smokehouse almonds for $6.50? (Add turkey or bacon for $7.75) … or
a Veggie Melt on 6-grain bread w/ gruyere, shaved fresh fennel, smoked tomatoes, fresh arugula and balsamic syrup for $6.50… and
of course, there are the Dessert Melts on sweet brioche bread – a S’more Melt w/ marshmallow cream, nutella and crumbled graham crackers on brioche for $5.00 or Mom’s Apple Pie Melt w/ sharp cheddar, caramelized cinnamon apples and candied walnuts for $6.50… then
there’s your customized melt w/ a list of ingredients (and breads) to build your own sandwich (even peanut butter)…
And they didn’t forget the sides: homemade tomato soup (how many moms used to give their children grilled cheeses AND Campbell’s tomato soup? Mine did), mac & cheese, homemade chili, tater tots, dipping sauces and homemade B&B pickles…
My mouth was watering. Michael decided on the Veggie Melt w/ fennel (he loves fennel) – but I opted to ‘customize’ mine… sharp cheddar w/ arugula and smoked tomatoes on rosemary potato bread.
Let the sandwich making begin...
Let the sandwich making begin...
Twenty minutes later our sandwiches were ready. We had planned to eat our delicacies in the car, but all the outdoor tables for a restaurant across the street were empty, so we hijacked one of them… and
as I bit into my oozy, melty “cheese dream,” I asked myself was it worth the wait.
"Chef driven grilled cheese. 'cause that's how we roll..."
Michele Grant, Cheese Executive Officer