The way Tom Van Voorhees tells it, grilled cheese was something of a light-bulb moment at Rogue Creamery.
“We’ve been making cheese for 80 years, and we just finally figured out we could put it on bread,” quipped the manager of Rogue Creamery’s Central Point cheese shop.
And when the Creamery geared up to start making sandwiches, reviewed for a recent Tempo dining column, Van Voorhees and company tested the gamut of companions for cheese, from roasted peppers to fig jam. Even tuna melts were considered, he said, but the verdict was clear.
“ ‘Just put cheese on it,’ ” the recipes testers said.
Nearly two years later, the Creamery is approaching the 9,000-sandwich mark. If demand keeps pace, customers may have to place their order at a food truck outside the cheese shop, said Van Voorhees. The sandwiches also are available at the Creamery’s new farm stand at its Grants Pass dairy.
If all this enthusiasm seems overstated, consider a March Los Angeles Times story that sang the praises of a mere grilled-cheese sandwich to complement a full roster of wines: sauvignon blanc to syrah. Vintner Brandon Sparks-Gills of California’s Dragonette Cellars also keeps grilled cheese simple. To impress the Times’ wine writer, S. Irene Virbila, he put aged Tillamook cheddar and mustard on pain au levain, then cave-aged Gruyere on rye.
“It’s just bread, cheese and butter, but better than many a restaurant meal,” writes Virbila.
So when you have the best of both bread and cheese, don’t be afraid to keep it simple. Here’s how to do it flawlessly.
Classic Grilled Cheese
Best-quality cheddar cheese, sliced
2 slices pain au levain, or rustic country bread
About 2 tablespoons butter
Place the sliced cheddar between the bread slices.
Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of the butter in a nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat until melted. Place sandwich in pan and cook until 1 side is toasted to a rich, golden color, then lift sandwich out of pan. Add additional butter to pan, if needed, and when it is melted, place sandwich back in pan, untoasted side down. Cook until toasted and a rich, golden color, then remove, slice and serve.
Makes 1 serving.
VARIATIONS: Substitute cave-aged Gruyere or Comte cheese for the cheddar, and rye bread for the pain au levain. Serve sandwich with garlic pickles and French mustard.