Grilled Cheese Throwdown II with Formaggio Kitchen

I love a good food competition, especially when I can be the judge, so naturally I was into the Grilled Cheese Throwdown at Formaggio. I went to the first one last spring, and it was excellent, so I knew the rematch would be totally worth my time.

The first round was all about incorporating fruit into the sandwich, and both sandwiches were paired with Née Bulleuse, a sparkling rosé Beaujolais. James came out strong with one of my favorite sandwiches all night: Challerhocker, a cow's milk cheese from Switzerland, with bourbon dates and butter and Surryano ham. Adam didn't hold back at all in the first round either; bringing out a tasty sandwich of Corsu Vecchiu, a sheep's milk cheese from Corsica, with fresh strawberries macerated in Saba. Both sandwiches were amazing, but my vote had to go to James.

Round two was all about incorporating vegetables and pairing with 2013 Domaine Adèle Rouzé Quincy, a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley. James used Paglierina, a cow and sheep's milk cheese from Piedmonte, Italy, with roasted Brussels sprouts and shallots with anise and lemon. I don't generally like Brussels sprouts, but this was a good sandwich. Adam made a "Philly Cheese Steak (without the Steak, and from Boston)", using Monte Veronese Latte Interro, an Italian cow's milk cheese, and sautéed sweet red pepper and onion. It was a tough round and a close vote, but Adam got my vote this time.

The third round was another tough one. Adam and James had to use meat in this round, and pair the sandwich with Cantine Valpane Barbera del Monferrato Rosso Pietro. Adam's sandwich was amazing, a mix of Brebis Haut Bearn du Fermier, a sheep's milk cheese from France, with duck pastrami and cherry confiture. So good, I had to take some extras home! But as good as it was, James' take on Mexican food won the round for me: Ilha Gracoisa, a cow's milk cheese from Portugal, and Ricotta Salata, a sheep's milk cheese from Sicily, with homemade carnitas, guacamole, and radish salsa. Ridiculously filling, but also ridiculously good.

The dessert/brioche round was another tough round, but at least we went back to drinking that amazing rosé from the first round. I could drink that wine all night and be a very happy person. James started things off right with fresh Ricotta, made from cow's milk here in the US, and Blu di Capra, a goat's milk cheese from Italy, with sautéed bananas and hot fudge. I love sautéed bananas, so this was my winner, but I have to mention how close Adam's dessert came to taking the winning spot in my mind. He used aged Boerenkaas Grand Cru, a cow's milk cheese from the Netherlands, and Brie, a cow's milk cheese from France, and mixed in butterscotch, candied walnuts, chocolate jimmies, and maraschino cherries. In the end, Adam claimed the overall win, but who's not a winner, if you get to enjoy all these amazing sandwiches? :)


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