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Say Cheese Please! The Grilled Cheese Truck rolls into the San Fernando Valley

Posted By Karen Young On February 8, 2010 @ 12:12 am In Cuisine,Eat,Featured,Food,Food Trucks,Food Trucks,My Daily Find,Restaurants,spotlight | 7 Comments

Karen_Young_MDF100BY KAREN YOUNG

I love cheese. No two ways about it. My basic philosophy is that life without cheese would be bad. Well, let’s just say that life without cheese and tomatoes would really bad.

Perhaps it goes back to those childhood memories of grilled cheese with a slice of tomato in the middle or grilled cheese plain paired with a bowl of tangy tomato soup. Good old comfort food.

Grilled Cheese truck. Photo: Karen Young

Marking history: The Grilled Cheese Truck's first day in the 818. I feel like a proud aunt, even though we just met! Photo: Karen Young

Whatever it is — cheese makes me feel good.

So, when I heard there was a Grilled Cheese Food Truck roaming the L.A. streets a few months ago, I got pretty excited. I’d heard they had competed in the Grilled Cheese Invitational (now that is one sporting event I can wrap myself around) and were rolling out a truck.  I was ready and waiting. Only problem, like most of the food trucks, they take a while to get to the San Fernando Valley.

What? We don’t eat in the 818? C’mon, people—move those trucks!

Fortunately, the Grilled Cheese Truck was fairly quick on the draw and made its first appearance in the Valley a couple of weeks ago on Cahuenga Blvd. West in Universal City.  I’m hoping they can roll out to the West Valley very soon too.

Chessy Mac and Ribs.

Cheesy Mac and Ribs. You can get it with or without the ribs. Photo: The Grilled Cheese Truck

I’d been logging into their Twitter feed and checking their website hoping that a Valley appearance would be imminent. I saw the date was set and then serendipity arrived a few minutes later when I was excitedly notified of the truck stop by a note on my Facebook wall by my friend Suzy, who is also a grilled cheese lover.

Plain and Simple.

Plain and Simple. Add a tomato or eat it just as is. Photo: The Grilled Cheese Truck.

We agreed to meet at the truck that Thursday at 1 pm.

When I arrived, Suzy was already standing in a long line. People were buzzing and milling about.

We perused the menu in all its cheesy glory. Suzy decided to order two to bring home to her family and I ordered three.

Waiting for Cheeseman.

Waiting for the melts is good for people watching and meeting new people. Photo: Karen Young

Suzy ordered “plain and simple” with sharp cheddar cheese with an added sliced tomato ($4) as well as the Mac and Cheese Melt ($5). A grilled cheese and tomato aficionado, she gives the truck version a thumbs up as “excellent and definitely above average.” She added, “What sent it over the edge into the realm of excellent was the quality of the tomato. It was just the right thickness, sweet and juicy and not cooked and soggy.” As for the Mac and Cheese melt, she said “it was a layer of really well executed macaroni and cheese stuck between two pieces of bread and then grilled.” To get some additional perspective, she saved a quarter wedge of each melt for her two teenage sons, and although one ate them cold, and the other ate them heated up (for a couple of minutes in the toaster oven),  Suzy said they both gave the melts “resounding thumbs up.”

Roasted Fennel Melt. Photo: Karen Young

I couldn't wait to taste at least one melt. Here's the Roasted Fennel Melt inside my car. Photo by Karen Young

As for myself, I chose three melts that I wouldn’t ordinarily make quickly at home. The first was the Caprese Melt which was filled with fresh mozzarella, a slice of a red heirloom tomato, minced fresh basil and a touch of balsamic syrup ($6) — it was perfectly melted, and like Suzy said, the tomato on this melt was thick and not soggy. The mixture of the basil and balsamic made it taste a bit more like a very flavorful checca with cheese because the ingredients are more integrated than a traditional caprese. Next up was the  Harvest Melt with gruyere, roasted butternut squash, sauteed leeks, and balsamic and agave syups ($5) — a  perfect sweet and savory melt with thin slices of butternut squash on  grainy wheat bread. I was questioning whether to order it, but I’m glad I did. It’s richer than the other melts, but my personal favorite, especially because of the bread which matches the heartiness of the ingredients. My third sandwich was the Special of the Day ($6.50) — a roasted fennel melt with provolone, gruyere, arugula and tomato was deliciously original, although the fennel and arugula are strong flavors and overpower the cheese a bit. More cheese please.

HarvestMelt

The Harvest Melt with roasted butternut squash and gruyere is a big departure from grilled cheese as you know it, but what a taste! Photo: The Grilled Cheese Truck

And like Suzy, I took the melts home to share. Just a shot in the toaster oven and they were perfect. My teen daughter agreed.

But what good would any grilled cheese sandwich be without tomato soup? The Grilled Cheese Truck offers a tangy  tomato basil version prepared with a vegetable base and no cream. It’s sold by the shot (.50) or the cup ($2).

Tomato soup. Photo: Karen Young

I decided to eat the Tomato Soup curbside. I didn't want it to get cold. Photo: Karen Young

Add sweet or savory additions to your melt: BBQ pork ($2.50), Mac&Cheese ($2), bacon ($2), marshmallow ($1.50), nutella ($1.50), roasted banana ($1.50). Or order up some sides, like tater tots ($3).

“I feel very strongly about using very fresh ingredients in our melts as well as having choices that fit the needs and tastes of different people,” said Michele Grant, who co-owns the truck with Dave Dahni. Both Grant and Dahni are chefs and have worked in restaurants as well as gigs as personal chefs.

“We want to leave everyone with cheesy smiles,” said Michele.

Dessert Melt.

The Dessert Melt with roasted banana puree, nutella and marshmallow. We'll forgive no cheese on this one.

I was surely happy with my Grilled Cheese Truck outing. And so was my friend, Suzy. Although, we didn’t get to the Dessert Melt with roasted banana puree, nutella and marshmallow ($6).  Next time…like tomorrow.  Who’s coming?

Note: Only five melts can be ordered at a time.  Be prepared to wait in line.

The Grilled Cheese Truck will be in Universal City on Tuesday, February 9 from noon -2:00. In front of VIVID PRODUCTIONS 3599 Cahuenga Blvd. West. www.grilledcheesetruck.com Twitter: http://twitter.com/GrlldCheeseTruk

Karen Young is the Publisher/Editor of My Daily Find

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