If there’s one thing consistent with trends, it’s that followers will do anything to get in on the action to stay, err, well, trendy. This was evident yesterday at the opening of Melt Mobile, a new gourmet grilled cheese truck, parked smack in the middle of downtown Stamford’s Landmark Square.
Backed by Bobby Flay as part of his new “Food Project” reality show, what was started by two fierce women as a paddy wagon, one with an entrepreneurial background, the other, a trained French Culinary Institute chef and former restaurateur, is now a “permanent for now” gourmet food trend in the form of a food truck. Two trends in one, food truck and gourmet comfort food. And as I mentioned about those followers…
My friend and I arrived to be met by a mob mix of foodies, reporters, onlookers and television cameras swarming around the truck and its’ mentor, Bobby Flay. Yes, Mr. Flay was there, filming the opening for his aforementioned show. We were gently asked to sign waivers “in case we were on camera”, and asked to step aside while they filmed and prepped for the grand opening. This gave me time to put on some lip gloss so I’d be camera ready.
While we stood on line behind at least 100 people with at least another 100 behind us, an actual flash mob broke out into routine, twice. We were cold because the weather was nippy and windy, but we were determined to make it to the front of the line before our kids got off the school bus. Bobby graciously signed autographs and took photos with his admiring foodie fans and after two trips to the parking meter and 1 and ½ hours later, we made it to the window. I kept thinking in the back of my mind that this would play out like a joke on one of my kid’s t.v. shows where you finally get to the front of the line and they tell you they are out of cheese and close the window on you. But luckily this didn’t happen, there was only a slight delay due to grill cleaning and “sound bite” gathering by Bobby’s crew.
(Psst, Station Eats is a mere 30 yards from the truck in case you are starving and can’t wait while you are waiting…I admit that we did just that. This pre-snack gave us the stamina to stay in line!)
So you ask, grilled cheese made gourmet? Wait on line for an hour for bread and cheese? Really? Can’t I just make this at home and call it a day while sitting in the comfort of my own home with my top of the line sandwich press? Well the answer to that is hell no! The experience would be completely lost in translation. If you can’t understand this, let me translate for you.
The Monte Cristo was a heavenly combo of herb baked ham (the slightest hint of rosemary elevated the taste to an insane level of yumminess!), Farm fresh turkey, their own house cheese blend which consists of Cheddar, Gruyere and Jack, on Challah Bread. Wait, here’s the part you most likely would not do in your own kitchen…it is dipped in French toast batter and deep fried then sprinkled lightly with powdered sugar AND if that’s not insanely mouth watering enough, they insist that you dip the Montecristo into their homemade mixed berry preserve! This is "Grilled Cheese Gone Wild."
They grilled this sandwich perfectly yielding the most buttery, crunchy, browned bread and with the combination of textures with the warm, creamy cheese and sweet preserves, this was clearly a winner without being too decadent. I was pleasantly surprised at what sounded so rich actually tasted light and crunchy.
We also tried the Meatball 3 Cheese Squeeze which has homemade meatballs in marinara, fresh mozzarella, pecorino romano, reggiano parm and fresh, fragrant basil on Tuscan Bread. The meatballs were incredibly moist and flavorful and had been pressed down to fit into the sandwich. Again, the Tuscan bread, the perfect partner for the meat and sauce, had been grilled beautifully. These weren’t your average meatballs either. They were kind mama used to make. (I’m Jewish so my mom didn’t make good meatballs, but for all of you who have a “mama”, and you know who you are, you know exactly what I’m talking about!)
The final sample was the Original Melt, which was their house blend of Tillamook Cheddar, Gruyere, Monterey Jack on Country White. Not bad, although I think I would have preferred mine with the addition of tomatoes to contrast all the creaminess. They do in fact, have vine ripe tomatoes, as add on’s to any sandwich, in addition to other add on’s such as apple wood smoked bacon, caramelized onions and sautéed wild mushrooms.
As they have just opened, there will be 4 gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches to choose from every day. They do have an extensive repertoire of sandwiches that they will introduce after they test out the market so stay tuned for more choices. I did hear that they even have a dessert melt: their signature Cheesecake Melt which presses cheesecake between two slices of buttery rich pound cake! Ouch! That would definitely negate the amount of calories burned from dance class and clog the arteries, but sounds too good to pass up.
And as if it is not enough that these fabulous women, Darlene Andersen and Diana Hall, have brought this cheesy goodness to Stamford’s downtown area, these two do-gooders will also donate 2% of Melt Mobile’s proceeds to The Umbrella Club, a local charitable organization devoted to helping children in need.
Well, if we will die of a heart attack having eaten too much grilled cheese, at least we know there are children out there who are for the better! Let’s just hope they don’t follow trends!
Parked in Veteran’s Park
Atlantic Street in Stamford/Landmark Square
Open 11-4 Monday to Friday
Average sandwich price: $8