Monday, May 20, 2013

Openhouse Gallery Presents The Big Cheesy

Openhouse Gallery
I was one of the lucky ones to win a ticket to Openhouse Gallery’s The Big Cheesy on InsideHook’s Facebook contest. 

The Big Cheesy is now an annual event at Openhouse Gallery. For two days, the space transforms into a grilled cheese mecca with samples galore. This year seven restaurants/ stands/food trucks participated to showcase their spin on the American classic. Everyone who attended the event got to vote for their favorite grilled cheese with an orange ping pong ball. Each ticket sold granted one hour access to the event. This steadied the crowd flow and gave each vendor a chance to cook enough grilled cheese for everyone and properly introduce their creations. 

I started off with the most established of the group ‘wichcraft. Their spicy pork grilled cheese had the perfect balance of spice, meat, and mild cheese. I then moved on to Murray’s Cheese Shop who paired their secret cheese blend sandwich with shots of smoky tomato soup. Mixing things up a little instead of going from table to table, I went across the room to Melt Shop. They had bacon sandwiches with Widmer’s Aged Cheddar and Brick. It was served with a side of cranberry onion chutney. This was an important component to their sandwich. As if sides were not enough, they even used bread from Levain. Local is a plus and I love it when New York merchants support each other. 

'wichcraft grillin'
Spicy Pork grilled cheese
Smoky Tomato Soup
Murray's Secret Blend
Melt Shop
Bacon Cheddar w/ Cranberry Onion Chutney
Artisanal cheese monger Lucy’s Whey kept things simple and safe. Their sandwich of apple butter, chili chutney, ham, and Cabot Coop cheddar could not hold a candle to next door neighbor Sons of Essex. These energetic guys seemed to be in competition with Say Cheese for who had the loudest boast whenever a ping pong ball vote was placed in their favor. Sons of Essex offered two choices: the Bowery Bacon Crusted Melt (a bacon crusted brioche with beemster, baby swiss, white cheddar, and manischewitz shallot jam) and a truffle grilled cheese (a gruyere, goat cheese, parmigiano reggiano, sauteed mushrooms, and baby arugula sandwich encased in buttery bread and sea salt to put it over the roof). Upon first bites, they were very very good. Rivals Say Cheese also had two sandwich offerings. One was a French onion themed one with gruyere cheese, swiss, a homemade French onion soup compote, and garlic butter on sour dough bread. For “dessert” they had a S’more sandwich that was made of mascarpone, Nutella chocolate sauce, and graham cracker dust on brioche. There was also a syringe filled with hot chocolate placed in the sandwich. Wowzas!

Lucy's Whey
Sons of Essex
Truffle Grilled Cheese
Bowery Bacon Crusted Melt
Say Cheese
Even after a dessert sandwich there was still more to be had. The Milk Truck had a bacon cheddar blue sandwich. At this point I was up to my ears in grilled cheese. It's tough being a taste tester! I'm thankful there was a little lounge for relaxing sponsored by Partyup Productions. I had an afternoon food coma. 

Bacon Cheddar Blue

264 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10014

601 Lexington Ave.
New York, NY 10022

425 W. 15th Street
New York, NY 10011

133 Essex Street
New York, NY 10002

142 W. 83rd Street
New York, NY 10024