Hot Cheese: Grilled cheese for grownups

Grilled cheese gets a three-chef facelift at Hot Cheese, a street food concept from John Ash, Bruce Riezenman and Mei Ibach


Hot Cheese, tomato soup and pickles
Hot Cheese, tomato soup and pickles

Happiness is just a grilled cheese sandwich away.
It’s the simplest of equations, really. Equal parts childhood memories, cheesy goodness and uncomplicated comfort food, grilled cheese is the stuff we crave in good times, console with in bad times, and return to again and again in plain old hungry times.
Given a snappy updo by the SoCo’s foodie Justice League (Chef John Ash, caterer Bruce Riezenman, SRJC’s Mei Ibach and Ian Christopher doing griddle acrobatics), Hot Cheese (“the best grilled cheese”) are crispity crunchy sandwich gold.
Ash’s first foray into street food,  the concept instantly struck a chord with the team. “Grilled Cheese strikes a warm memory note for most of us plus, its timeless!  We want to honor all that it can be at its very best and push the envelope a little along the way,” Ash told BiteClub.
The standard-bearer: A six-cheese blend (the secret is in the grating) on Full Circle bread. Don’t ask how much butter. Step up to Bellwether’s aged Carmody melted with sweet-tart quince paste and applewood bacon between two slices of rye. Other offerings include quesadillas (a South of the Border grilled cheese, really) and a sauerkrauty Rueben.
John Ash and "flipper" Ian Christopher
John Ash and "flipper" Ian Christopher

You’ll be hard-pressed to go astray here, even on the warmest of summer eves with the sun beating down on your perspiring brow. Even when tomato soup seems the furthest thing from your mind. Those buttery crisp crusts all but demand it.
“You do know you have to dip your crusts, right?” asks Ash.
A foot stomp and something like, “No duh silly willy” seems about the right thing to say at that moment. I refrain. But standing at a picnic table with a hot grilled cheese staining my paper plate, crunchy sweet pickles, tomato soup and lemonade on my immediate dinner agenda, it’s hard not to feel just a little childish — in the very best way I can imagine.
Hot Cheese: Every Thursday at the Windsor Certified Farm market from 5 to 8pm. Offerings will change throughout the season. The crew has already drafted a special sandwich for the Gravenstein Apple Fair (they’ll be there Aug. 14/15) with apple jack cheese, apples and curried mayonnaise. or 322-3798.