In light of National Grilled Cheese Month, columnist Caitlin Weigel experiments with cheese.
Aside from the typical spring holidays, like the one about the rabbit and the pastel eggs, April has another major holiday working for it – National Grilled Cheese Month.
That’s right – an entire month to celebrate the beauty of sweet melted cheese on crispy bread. And while it may seem excessive, I’m certainly not one to rain on any parade involving the consumption of cheese en masse.
Aside from celebrating a totally random month-o’-hot-cheesy-bread, this also happens to be the music issue of The Temple News, a beautiful intersection of two celebratory events.
This columnist is pleased as punch. Any reason to make merry is reason enough for me.
What’s truly beautiful about the overlap of the music issue and National Grilled Cheese Month is that there’s actually a Philadelphia spot that is well-known for both of these things. Who would have thought it?
World Cafe Live is located at 30th and Walnut streets. This multifloor venue and eatery is attached to Philadelphia’s favorite adult alterative public radio station (though I’m not sure how much competition exists in this category), WXPN.
World Cafe Live plays host to loads of musical acts – from lesser-known singer/songwriters on the upstairs stage, to full-blown rock sessions downstairs. The World Cafe Live calendar is always packed full of upcoming musical events, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to find entertainment there any night of the week.
Just because the focus is on the music it doesn’t mean these folks forgot about the food. The menu features pretty standard fare, all with subtle twists that bring totally new flavor combinations to your palate.
Along with the regular menu, World Cafe Live serves up some sweet daily specials including a grilled cheese of the day.
Now, these are no Johnson & Hardwick cafeteria, sit-out-under-a-lamp-while-the-cheese-grows-cold-and-crusty sandwiches. World Cafe takes its grilled cheeses very seriously and delivers exotic cheese and bread combos that are sure to rock your Kraft singles world.
How about roast zucchini and yellow squash with sharp cheddar on sourdough? Maybe a little goat cheese and roasted red pepper action? Pumpernickel? Rye? Just when you think you’re reached the last possible page in the grilled cheese book, World Cafe comes along and writes a new one.
Having eaten there numerous times last summer during my internship with WXPN (scarfing down leftovers sandwich halves and cold fries left behind by bands counts as eating there, right?) I was pretty familiar with the daring combinations served up at World Cafe. I decided to try to make my own bold sandwiches.
My first attempt was a simple classic – Beemster cheddar with tomato on whole-wheat bread. It wasn’t exactly a revolutionary sandwich, but it appropriately whet my appetite for the grilled cheese frenzy to ensue.
Next up was a cream cheese and sliced potato with chive sandwich. This might have been a little too far off the deep end, but I was feeling like a real kitchen adventurer and decided to count that combo as a win based solely on the weirdness factor.
Then things got serious. I bought a loaf of fresh Italian bread, sautéed (read: pushed around in a pan with oil until they looked good or I got bored) some spinach and mushrooms and slapped together the ingredients with a few slices of blue cheese. Now that was the kind of sandwich you call home about.
Feeling confident in my abilities, I decided to make myself one last grilled cheese for dessert – the classic brie-and-raspberry-jam combo. Seriously, if you guys have not had the privilege of trying warm, gooey baked brie topped with a sweet, fruity jam, I suggest you stop whatever you are doing and get it in your mouth immediately. This is the stuff that changes lives.
Final verdict? I thoroughly enjoyed experimenting with new flavor combinations at home. Grilled cheese is a great, basic sandwich that leaves tons of room for customization. To round out the experience, try pairing your sandwich with a complementary soundtrack. Sufjan and Swiss perhaps? Or maybe Luda and Gouda? A little Hot Chip and Havarti to really start the party? Eh?
But, should you find yourself headed to World Cafe Live for a concert, why not stop and enjoy the menu? WXPN hosts its weekly Free at Noon concerts (which is exactly what it sounds like) at the downstairs venue. If the music part is fo’ free, why not treat yourself to a little lunch action upstairs afterward? After all, it is National Grilled Cheese Month.
It’d be downright Scrooge-ish of you not to consume melted cheese every day this month.
Caitlin Weigel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.