Would you spend $50 for a grilled cheese?
The newest luxury food pleasure hitting Manhattan is from the Gilt restaurant in the The New York Palace Hotel. It was featured on that teeny-bopper hit Gossip Girl.
Chef Christopher Lee showed Al how he makes his "Gossip Girl" Grilled Cheese on The Today Show this morning. He needed to go no further than showing us the huge slices of truffles that go on the sandwich to understand the price.
He did say that white truffles are used in season ($4800/lb.), but now they use black truffles (a mere $1000/lb.). When Al inquired if they lowered the price for the black truffle version, the chef kind of giggled...The extra thick slices of homemade bread did look heavenly.
The method was bit weird though. The sandwich is cooked open-faced. Chef Lee buttered the outside of 2 slices of bread and put them buttered side down. Then he laid slices of fontina over and added several generous slices of truffle. Each piece of bread went into a hot frying pan - buttered side down - and then into a hot oven. The sandwich is only put together when it comes out of the oven. It looked oozingly (in a good way) delicious and the bread looked invitingly crisp.
NOTE: The recipe on the website is COMPLETELY different. The slightly unclear directions tell you to cook it already sandwiched together. I liked the idea of cooking each side separately, because the bread was so thick, it would take awhile to cook all the way through.
Chef Lee came back later to show Giada how to make his Smoked Tomato Soup. Now this is a chef who is thinking! He found a way to improve a classic tomato soup, without fussing with the ingredients too much.
It IS a pain to smoke them, but I imagine the flavor would be incomparable. Remember those stovetop smokers that weirdos bought years ago? I wonder where mine is. (This method of smoking does seem a bit easier than Chef Lee's.) However you do it, it would be a fine accompaniment to the grilled cheese.
Now, would I order a $50 dollar grilled cheese? I've been known to do much worse, but, frankly, I'd be just as happy with a slice of tomato in place of the truffle...and a fried egg wouldn't hurt either. Preferably, of course, this would be from a Parisian sidewalk cafe and that WOULD bring the price to way more than $50. So I guess Chef Lee's sandwich is real bargain after all.