Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Big Cheese

One of the many fun things about food is how you can trace your life through different food phases. When I was in middle school, I came home almost every day and made a grilled cheese sandwich on white bread (slathered on each side with margarine) with a Kraft Singles American "cheese" slice melted in between. I'd grab a regular Pepsi, and happily dunk my sandwich in ketchup while watching TV before starting my homework. This was my first introduction to "cooking." Courses in Kraft macaroni and cheese and Costco taquitos followed shortly thereafter.

Even though I've slightly (and just slightly) outgrown the Kraft Singles sandwich phase, I still adore grilled cheese sandwiches. So when The Big Cheese truck hit the streets for its debut yesterday, B and I braved the frigid temperatures and headed to L'Enfant to check it out.

First, the truck. Eagle eyes might recognize this truck as the former Rebel Heroes truck that used to roll through Arlington serving banh mi. Apparently, despite favorable reviews and a loyal following, the mobile banh mi business didn't pan out. Rebel Heroes sold their truck to veteran restaurant manager Patrick Rathbone who turned the truck into a grilled cheese wonderland, complete with the cutest food truck logo in DC.

On the day we visited, the truck was serving 5 varieties of grilled cheese sandwiches, one dessert sandwich (Nutella and banana), tomato soup, and drinks. Though the regular "Barely Buzzed" sandwich with cheddar was calling me, I embraced my new love of more interesting cheeses and tried the Mt. Fiji with brie, apples, and honey. It was a melty, crunchy, messy sandwich that hit the spot on one of the coldest days of the year.

B tested out the Appalachian which featured swiss cheese and mushrooms. It was a little skimpy on the mushrooms (see below), but it was great when dunked in the piping hot tomato soup.

At $6.50, this isn't the cheapest sandwich on the block, but the use of high-quality ingredients helps justify the cost. I've read that he uses bread from Lyon Bakery and cheese from Cowgirl Creamery.

Since it's the first week, I won't harp on the negatives, but I would recommend that the head cheese gets someone to assist him in his truck. He's trying to take orders, make sandwiches, and take money all at the same time, and this equaled a nearly 20 minute wait time when there were only 4 people ahead of us in line. In this weather, that is some serious devotion to grilled cheesiness. We saw many people bail out of line and head across the street to the Eat Wonky and Sauca trucks. I believe in the power of grilled cheese and want this truck to make it big. Go get ye some grilled cheese!

Second Thoughts from B

Grilled cheese gives me the warm and fuzzies too. My version, from childhood and today, is whole wheat bread, a large schmear of butter, and the sharpest cheddar you could buy. Little did I know that the sandwich I've been making since I could see over the stove would cost me $6.50 and frostbite today.

After scurrying away with our warm bag of yummy, we drove to the Mall and parked on 7th street with the Washington Monument to our left and the Capitol to our right. We enjoyed the flood of cheesy memories while enjoying a view that no 4-star restaurant can match.

The Big Cheese doesn't offer anything that hasn't come out of my kitchen before. But it is the fact that I've made hundreds of grilled cheeses that makes me look forward to our next visit to the Big Cheese. Sometimes you just can't turn down fond memories when they arrive at your doorstep.

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