When I imagine The Big Cheesy, I can’t help but to think about America’s favorite young, black nerd from the 90’s, Steven Q. Urkel. I could just picture him stepping inside of the lifeless, white box at Openhouse’s Mulberry location, donning a huge boner once he discovers this cheesy competition. One could almost hear the following words escaping the mouth of the Winslows’ nerdy neighbor: “Got any cheeeese?”
Openhouse hosted The Big Cheesy on Saturday, March 23rd and Sunday, March 24th. The two-day grilled cheese tasting event brought together seven of New York’s top tier cheese wizards, to compete for the title as The Big Cheesy Champion, and the full knowledge of knowing that they possess the #1 Grilled Cheese in New York City according to New Yorkers. This year’s participants included the returning champion Melt Shop, Say Cheese, Sons of Essex, Wichcraft, Milk Truck, Murray’s Cheese Bar, and Lucy’s Whey.
As one of more than 1,500 attendees this past weekend, my taste buds earned me the prestigious honor of casting a valuable vote that would ultimately determine the 2013 winner. I felt important. I had a duty to fulfill. I wasn’t just there for the FREE samples of mouthwatering grilled cheese sandwiches. Who am I kidding? Yes I was. It also doesn’t hurt that Sixpoint Brewery was offering some complimentary beer. Who turns down FREE food and beer?
Also, the lounging area, sponsored by Partyup Productions, was decorated with a small foosball table, and a kid-friendly basketball shoot-around station. It was perfect for those looking to have fun and work on their jump-shot. It’s those small details at these unique events that keep my wandering mind from, well, suicidal thoughts.
So as I made my way around the crowded booths, I found myself warming up to a few of these cheesy delicacies being offered by New York’s grilled cheese gurus. My stomach soon fell in love with the Classic Melt by Murray’s Cheese Bar. The cheese is a secret blend that is melted on buttery pullman bread and served with a side of smoky tomato soup. The sandwich itself was good, but the guy that served it to me told me to try it with the tomato soup to bring out the flavor. Holy shit! He was right because that tomato soup made the sandwich amazing.
As I continued to maneuver around the venue, I found myself in front of the Lucy’s Whey table that offered “a sandwich as American as an apple pie.” They weren’t kidding. Their sandwich housed a sharp cheddar cheese from the Cabot Coop in Vermont on butter pan de mie, local apple butter with a hint of chili chutney, a layer of fromage blanc, and a slice of ham. I don’t think I’m cultured enough to have really appreciated this sandwich, but it was the most wholesome grilled cheese sandwich that I have ever tasted.
Lastly, the Melt Shop produced the winning guilty pleasure. It’s a sandwich so unhealthy, and yet, so scrumptious that I had to have it twice. I honestly believe that if I’m ever diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes, I could place full blame on the Melt Shop. They placed Widmer’s aged cheddar and brick spread with strips of Nueske’s bacon and cranberry onion chutney on Levain Locale bread. They literally served this heart-attack at The Big Cheesy and they got my vote. Not only that, but they also turned out to be the winners of The Big Cheesy 2013.
What can I say? I know how to pick ‘em.
Photo Credit: openhouse.me