Cheese? Please! 11 Epic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches #ultimatecomfortfood

When temperatures start to dip and the days stay darker longer, there is nothing we crave more than grilled cheese sandwiches. They’re a welcome throwback to the days when mom would griddle one for us as a snack on chilly school day afternoons. But the sandwiches of today go way beyond the two slices of Wonderbread and preternaturally orange American cheese of yesteryear. Chefs are transforming the humble sandwich by using fantastic fromage and A+ add-ons. Here are 11 epic grilled cheese sandwiches.

Ripple, Washington, D.C.
Any sandwich called the Quack Attack is automatically cool in our book. This beyond epic concoction is rich with Cambozola, an indulgent combination of French soft-ripened triple cream cheese, and Gorgonzola. As if that wasn’t enough for quack addicts, there’s also duck prosciutto and a sunny side up duck egg. Make a reservation at Ripple.

Epic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Murray’s Cheese, New York, New York
There’s only one word to describe this grilled cheese: amazeballs. Yes, that’s really a word. Look it up. The Spaniard oozes with Idiazabal, a smoky, nutty sheep milk cheese from Spain (duh!), which is complemented by Serrano ham, spicy chorizo, roasted red peppers, and romesco sauce. Make a reservation at Murray’s Cheese.

Epic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Big City Tavern, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Better bring your appetite if you want to take down this bad boy. A shroud of melted Provolone is draped over a mound of shaved ribeye perked up with zingy horseradish mayo and sweet caramelized onions. A bib isn’t required, but it is encouraged. Make a reservation at Big City Tavern.

Epic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Buddy V’s, Las Vegas, Nevada
You can eat this Italian grilled cheese with a fork and knife. Not that we’re recommending you do that; we’re all about getting our hands dirty. Cake Boss Buddy Valastro’s sandwich features fried mozzarella and sits in a pool of tomato ragu and Genovese pesto that’s perfect for dipping. Make a reservation at Buddy V’s.

Epic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Delicatessen, New York, New York
Chef Michael Ferraro didn’t want to simply use a few hole-y slices of Swiss for his Reuben riffing grilled cheese, so he substituted in four cheese mac ‘n’ cheese. Yes, you read that correctly. Of course, there’s also braised corned beef, sauerkraut, and pickles. It might not be what your zeyde (grandfather) grew up eating, but it’s a sandwich worthy of a new generation of deli-goers. Make a reservation at Delicatessen.

Epic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Brick & Mortar Kitchen, Richmond, Texas
Get a little bit of the South in your mouth. Plump with pimento cheese, this sandwich epitomizes everything we love about comfort food from below the Mason-Dixon line. And, it comes with a bowl of tomato basil soup, which is a million times better than anything you ever got out of a Campbell’s can. Make a reservation at Brick & Mortar Kitchen.

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Healthy Eating Trends: Top Restaurants for Your New Year’s Resolution

Just because you made a resolution to rid yourself of those holiday pounds off doesn’t mean you can’t have fun when eating out. From the crunch of kimchi-topped sweet potato fries with cashew-chipotle drizzle to the panache of whole-roasted fish presented tableside, there’s a lot more than salad and carrot sticks to enliven any January day with these restaurants embracing healthy eating trends to help you stick to your delicious dining New Year resolutions.

Healthy Eating Trends

Organic Grill, New York, New York
Business starts booming at the Organic Grill on New Year’s Day. “I think everyone is trying to start their resolutions off right,” jokes owner Julia Chebotar of her family-owned mostly vegan, organic restaurant in East Village. It’s easy to see why if you check out this season’s brunch menu, featuring dishes enticing enough to turn any carnivore’s head (or appetite) — think loaded kimchi sweet-potato fries with cashew chipotle drizzle, cabbage, scallion, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, sriracha, and vegan or dairy cheese. Chebotar says she likes to make the January menu fun for those new to a “clean” lifestyle, and anything that features greens like kale or spinach is a big seller, especially the new sweet green + kale frittata. Organic Grill also features an extensive lineup of veggie burgers, organic wild salmon and tilapia, juice cleanses, and raw foods. Make a reservation at Organic Grill.

Healthy Eating Trends

Marin Restaurant & Bar, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Chef Mike Rankun busts the bluster of Minnesota with California-themed cuisine using local produce. Ham, fig, and blue cheese flatbread on a whole-wheat crust, jerk-spiced pork chops with mashed sweet potatoes, or grass-fed beef tenderloin with potato puree, spinach, and balsamic Cipollini onions may sound like heartier fare, but those counting calories don’t have to fear the pitfalls of dining out — each item on the menu is presented with its nutritional content. Rankun spotlights both small and large plates, and cuts calories and fat year-round by swapping out butter for olive oil and using starchy liquid from ears of corn in lieu of heavy cream to thicken soups. Make a reservation at Marin Restaurant & Bar.

Healthy Eating Trends

Puritan & Company, Boston, Massachusetts
It should come as no surprise that Boston chef Will Gilson, whose family owns the Herb Lyceum garden and greenhouse in nearby Groton, puts the focus on fresh in January. Puritan & Company will supplement its normal Sunday brunch menu with BEATNIK juices, a collaboration between father David and son, for everything from energy boosting to detoxifying, cleansing, or just reviving after a night of partying. For those who’ve toasted 2016 with a bit too much spirit, pick hangover cure Beet the Blues, made with beets, blueberries, lemon, and apple and packed with vitamin C, antioxidants, potassium, and fiber. Make a reservation at Puritan & Company.

Healthy Eating Trends

Blowfish Sushi, San Francisco, California
Sushi is always a top choice for the health-conscious year-round, but January is a great time to try something new, says Blowfish Sushi’s Brigid Kealy. One of her favorite dishes — which features no rice — is great for those counting carbs: Tokyo Ceviche. The classic Japanese sunomono (cucumber salad) is topped with fresh crab, shrimp, tuna, and octopus, and then crowned with a mango, grapefruit, and cucumber sorbet made by a local creamery. By highlighting fresh local produce from California farms, Kealy says sushi can be a surprising way to embrace vegetarian options, like miso-marinated eggplant nigiri to potrero veggie roll with two types of tofu, carrot, and asparagus. Make a reservation at Blowfish Sushi.

Healthy Eating Trends

SOL Cocina, Scottsdale, Arizona
All preconceptions of overfilled burritos and gooey nachos can be dropped at the door at SOL Cocina, where James Beard-nominated executive chef Deborah Schneider — inspired by her trips just south of Arizona’s borders — maintains a healthy menu of entrees that are wood-grilled or braised in their own juices, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-friendly dishes, beans prepared without fat or oils, and 34 fat-free salsas made from fresh fruits and vegetables. Dressings are created with fresh juices and thickened with ticker-friendly avocado in lieu of eggs or mayonnaise. New seasonal menu additions include tacos (roasted squash or grilled shrimp agave), although, for traditionalists, Schneider says her baked chile relleno (traditionally filled with cheese and fried) feels indulgent without having to make several trips to the gym. Other resolution-friendly hits are the Hot & Raw Ceviche, with fresh citrus, habanero chiles, avocado, and cucumber served with sweet potato and red beet chips. Make a reservation at SOL Cocina.

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Get Nutty: Five Southern Pecan Dishes + Drinks to Try Today

The holidays — a time when legendary pecan pie reigns supreme in the South — may be over. But we’re still longing for the sweet, nutty flavors through winter and beyond. And better yet, these hickory nuts are chockful of nutrients and good-for-you fats to help you accomplish all your healthy eating 2016 resolutions. Here are five Southern pecan dishes (sweet, savory, and sippable) highlighting the regional staple.  

Pecan Daiquiri, The Pinewood, Decatur, Georgia
We recommend drinking your dessert this season, especially when it’s as delectable as the pecan daiquiri at The Pinewood. Giving the classic Manhattan a Southern twist, this whiskey mecca relies on their housemade pecan cocktail syrup (Hint: it’s also available for purchase by the bottle!) made from oven-roasted Georgia pecan-infused bitters to up the ante. This dangerously delicious daiquiri is also laced with rum, lime juice, and Dry Curacao for a cocktail you won’t soon forget. Make a reservation at The Pinewood.

Southern Pecan Dishes

Pecan Marjolaine, Mandolin, Raleigh, North Carolina
Head to Raleigh’s farm-to-table Mandolin for a well-balanced pecan dessert that will make you forget all about cloying pecan pie. Chef Sean Fowler’s pecan marjolaine is made with eight layers of pecan sponge cake, chocolate, and orange buttercream before being garnished with pralines and candied orange peel. Make a reservation at Mandolin.

Southern Pecan Dishes

Candied Pecan Risotto, Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails, Alpharetta, Georgia
Don’t rule out pecan plates just because you’re lacking a sweet tooth — plenty of innovative chefs are using the smoky nut in savory dishes, such as risotto and espresso-rubbed shrimp at Milton’s. Spiked with blue cheese, port cherry, pomegranate molasses, and basil oil, this well-rounded dish is sure to make a pecan lover out of even the saltiest diner. Make a reservation at Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails.

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Très Bien! Celebrate National Cassoulet Day

Blog BENOIT_NY_Cassoulet_Pierre Monetta copyYou know what we love about cassoulet? EVERYTHING. You know why? Because the delicious French dish comes in so many forms. There are the classic cassoulets from Carcassone, Castelnaudary, and Toulouse — and dozens of variations created by inventive chefs around the globe. (Pro tip: If you’re in a particular region in France, don’t say which you think is the one cassoulet to rule them all — you’re sure to get into quite a row if your answer hails from another location). So revered is it that, according to Saveur, there is even “a gastronomic brotherhood devoted to that epic French dish” known as the Grande Confrérie du Cassoulet de Castelnaudary. While we may not boast such an organization in the U.S., we do have National Cassoulet Day. And, many restaurants are extending the savory celebration. Instated by Alain Ducasse’s bistro Benoit in New York City, this year, more than 30 of the country’s top restaurants will honor the hearty French winter classic all week long.

From January 9–15, Benoit and participating restaurants, ranging from French restaurants, steakhouses, and farm-to-table New American concepts to Italian and even vegan eateries, will offer their own interpretations of cassoulet. Benoit will prepare a special three-course Cassoulet Experience. To start, guests can expect a selection of hors d’oeuvres including celery root and red cabbage remoulade and for dessert, a Vacherin with pineapple and vanilla.

The full list of restaurants can be found here. Dozens of other restaurants are participating unofficially or merely serving this dish because they (as we) are crazy for cassoulet. Below are a few of our faves to inspire you to celebrate National Cassoulet Day today. 

Benoit Restaurant and Bar, New York, New York
Chef and U.S. Cassoulet Ambassador, from the Universal Cassoulet Academy in Carcassone, Philippe Bertineau’s iconic one-pot meal of white beans, pork, and duck is served in its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole. Make a reservation at Benoit Restaurant and Bar.

National Cassoulet Day

River Roast, Chicago, Illinois
Throughout his career Chef Hogan worked with the some of the finest French chef’s – including Chef Jean Joho – and even spent time studying the culinary arts in France. These experiences have shaped a deep love of traditional French cuisine.  He is a master of charcuterie, which he incorporates in all of the elements of this dish — from the duck confit to the pork sausage. Combining all of these elements allows him to make a truly traditional French cassoulet which also includes pork shoulder,  white beans, white wine, garlic, and smoked bacon. Make a reservation at River Roast.

National Cassoulet Day

The Breslin Bar and Dining Room, New York, New York
April Bloomfield and her Christina Lecki executive chef at The Breslin Bar & Dining Room are participating in Cassoulet Week, serving their take on Cassoulet for Two: Duck confit, Toulouse sausage, and lamb belly, ayocote beans, and herbed bread crumbs for $65. Make a reservation at The Breslin Bar & Dining Room.

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