What makes a perfect grilled cheese sandwich?

Grilled Cheese Perfection

It is December, and so far the weather has been uncommonly warm, but I live in the Plains where winter can and does come at any time. We can have 50 + degree weather in the morning and experience a 20-30 degree drop within hours, just like that, and that means warm comfort food time.

Today is a perfect example, the weather man was reporting 50’s and 60’s all this week, with the lows being in the high 40’s towards the end of the week. This morning when I got to work at 7:30 it was really nice out but by 3:30 it was cold, windy and blustery.

Today was a day to celebrate after about two months of wearing a boot for a broken ankle I was given the clear to start weaning myself off the boot, and what better way to celebrate then dinner, something warm, filling, gooey and comforting, and I was really hungry.

Being new to this area haven’t we haven’t had a chance to check out all of the restaurants, and I was really really wanting to try something different, so we decided to venture outside our normal haunts to something semi-new. Our choice was CRAVE.  We’ve been to a CRAVE in Omaha, Nebraska, and it was not a disappointment I was hopeful that this brand new that opened in Sioux City, would be just as good but what to order?

For the past month or more I have been CRAVING  a simple grilled cheese sandwich and a delicious- side cup of tomato soup. Weeks ago we tried our luck at an iconic “bread, soup and salad” franchise, I tried their grilled cheese and tomato soup wonderful it was NOT!  I’m not sure how anyone can actually mess up a grilled cheese sandwich but somehow they did. I mean you can elevate the sandwich but bomb it how?

When I think grilled cheese, I envision buttery, brown toasted bread, with yummy, gooey cheese dripping out the sides of the bread, and…when you bite into it…there is a buttery crunchiness that precedes the warm, smooth melted cheese. What I got was  was  white pasty bread, barely toasted, and on one side only, and cheese that looked like it had been peeled from a thin layer of pre-wrapped plastic.  The sandwich was cool to the touch as if it had been sitting for several hours before serving.  I was MAJOR-LEAGUE bummed!

A cravings doesn’t just go away, either for weeks afterwards visions of the “Perfect” grilled cheese sandwich floated through my mind. Whenever we went out, I would search the menu for grilled cheese, but it continued to elude me, which of course just made me want one even more.

I had just about given up on ever finding that simple, iconic, delicious sandwich when I saw a picture of one in CRAVE’S menu!  The perfect lunch combo advertising a four-cheese grilled sandwich with tomato and basil soup. Now remember I questioned earlier how you could possibly mess up a grilled cheese sandwich, but I applaud any chef willing to elevate this cheesy confection to even higher levels, and four cheeses had my attention.

When we placed our order, I was greatly surprised when our wonderful waitress, Lashondra, informed me that it was indeed a four cheese grilled sandwich with tomato basil soup.  Did anyone else hear that musical choir of angels singing? Had I FINALLY found the elusive grilled cheese sandwich?

We also ordered a plate of restaurant-style, multi-colored, nacho chips and guacamole and pico de gallo for an appetizer.  I absolutely loved the creamy guacamole with the fresh and tangy tomatoes, onions, peppers and herbs, spritzed with a lime…yum!

When our entr’ee came I was not disappointed – there it was – six little triangular cut sandwiches, each  flanking the sides of the cup of tomato soup.  The soup was bursting with flavor…from the rich tomatoes, to the aromatic basil and other seasonings, to the parmesan-bread crumbs and pistachio garnish.  But what about the sandwich you ask?

Tasty guacamole and chips.
My delicious soup and highly-anticipated grilled cheese!
My husband Lee opted for margarita flatbread and tomato soup.
Bright, warmly decorated and inviting Crave restaurant.

Anita anxiously awaiting her grilled cheese sandwich!The star of this story was the four cheese grilled-cheese sandwich…that elusive sandwich I had been craving for weeks…ironically  found at CRAVES! The bread was toasted to perfection…a nice, crisp, golden brown, with a parmesan-buttery layer on the outside to add that bit of salty flavor. The cheese – there was no scrimping here – was melty, gooey as it dripped down the sides of the bread!  As I dunked a piece of the cheese-filled bread into the tomato soup, a wonderful marriage of salty, buttery and acidic was created. This was the tomatoey-rich cheese sandwich I had been looking for…ahhhh!  On a cold blustery day, there is nothing like the warm butteriness of grilled cheese, paired with a steaming , comforting cup of tomato basil soup! There is even enough of the grilled cheese for me to have for lunch tomorrow!!!

What is your comfort food?

Where is your favorite place to grab a bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich?

 

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