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Brilliant! I said, when I regained linguistic abilities.
The name itself excited me:
- Inverted: Fabulous sugar desserts; upside-down roller coaster rides.
- Bagel: Driving to Goldberg's with my dad on Sunday mornings; what I wake up thinking about.
- Grilled cheese: All that is right in the world; also the Caseus cheese truck.
But when I thought about the execution (and saw the above photograph in The New York Times, I was confused—and disheartened.
As Ali explains in her article, the inverted bagel grilled cheese appears to have some... technical difficulties (to put it kindly). How do you even eat the thing? How do you cross that crater of droopy cheese in the middle to make it safely to the other side? I don't want to eat a bagel—not even a pizza bagel—with a fork and knife.
More: Here's a hybrid I can get behind.
And even if you figure out a way to do it better, so that it makes more sense (brava, Ali), I'd argue that, by combining the bagel and the grilled cheese, this hybrid obscures the best parts of each (and that has to be the number one pitfall of food mash-ups).
- First, in order to melt the cheese and safely flip the whole contraption, you squish the bagel, thereby robbing it of its fluff and girth and pillowy-ness. Sadelle's makes excellent bagels: Why crush them? In the N.Y.T. picture it appears the people at Sadelle's do not press the bagel, but that leaves me grappling with how it can possibly be safely prepared and consumed.
- Second, you sacrifice the best part of a grilled cheese: the interplay between the melted cheese and the crunchy, buttery bread and, in particular, those crackly, almost burnt bits of cheese that congregate at slice-edge. Instead, you're left with a pool of slippery cheese and, since the ending structure has a sort of hourglass shape, you do not maximize surface area for cheese-bread interaction.
- Third, you impose rash limits for the amount of cheese and toppings you can add. Try to up the amount of cheese (or to spread on pesto or mustard or hot sauce) and watch your carefully-placed add-ons slide right on down the sloped bagel, into oblivion.
Still, I understand the appeal of making a grilled cheese out of something other than white or wheat, which is why I like the Baguette Grilled Cheese (pictured below).
Say you have a baguette that's not top-quality (maybe it's a little old, maybe it's too bready, maybe it's more flat than cylindrical). Cut off a piece—7 to 8 inches long, then slice it like a giant sub. Invert the halves, buttering the insides (which are now the outsides!) generously (you can also take a cue from Gabrielle Hamilton and use mayo.) Carefully stick thinly sliced cheese in the middle, then make a grilled cheese as you know how. Do be careful as you flip: Like the inverted bagel grilled cheese, the baguette grilled cheese is more slippery than a traditional one.
The baguette grilled cheese allows you to grill/toast/press something that you would not normally be able to (as baguettes are typically too round and hard). Bagels, on the other hand, are pliable enough that you could grill them as is, no highfalutin inversion necessary.
What's more, it's a great use for a baguette on its way to the compost bin. (Bagels toast more easily than baguettes. Toast your old bagel—or put it in a savory bread pudding—rather than inverting it.)
Okay, so you can't add as many fillings as a normal grilled cheese and if your baguette has really, really hard outer crust, you're going to run into a problem. Still, it makes more sense than an inverted bagel grilled cheese. And there's a lot less to lose.
And with that leftover bagel? Do one of these things instead:
What is your favorite grilled cheese holder? Tell us in the comments below!