Daily Dish

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Category: Grilled Cheese

Licensed to Grill: Winners of the Grilled Cheese Invitational

GrilledcheeseHEADOn the last day of national Grilled Cheese Month, let us honor the victors of last weekend's hard-fought Grilled Cheese Invitational. (A semi-complete list of winners is posted after the jump; click here for a photo gallery from the competition.) But let us not forget what this month is truly about: bread, cheese and putting your arteries on the line for your art.

As Foundry chef and invitational judge Eric Greenspan said, "After tasting 75 of your sandwiches, I am extremely ill. I would not recommend that you walk in front of, or behind, me for the next couple of hours."

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Cinco de Mayo recipes: tuna tostadas, carne asada, chicharrones . . .


If you are like me, you're always looking for an excuse to break out the chips and guac. So I was happy to dig through the Times Test Kitchen's archives for some recipes in honor of Cinco de Mayo. Still, I wanted to come up with something ... different. (Nothing against refried beans, mind you!)

So this is a photo gallery of the menu I came up with:

There are grapefruit margaritas to start, along with appetizers including radish salsa, tortillas and chicharrones de queso -- roughly translated as fried cheese, tuna tostadas with chipotle mayo and queso de chiva fundido con pipián verde -- roughly translated as more cheesy goodness. For the main course, choose from green corn tamales, El Cholo's famous chiles rellenos, carne asada tacos, achiote-marinated fish tacosduck tacos with a chile-cherry compote (I told you I wanted different) and two types of veggie enchiladas.

But I wasn't completely nontraditional. I did include guacamole. And, for a finisher, flan

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

-- Rene Lynch


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Photo credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Grilled Cheese Invitational, briefly explained

The 2008 Grilled Cheese Invitational in Los Angeles

More than mac 'n' cheese, meatloaf, burgers or cupcakes, the grilled cheese sandwich is the ultimate comfort food. It's the first meal many of us learn to cook and a staple of bachelor kitchens everywhere. Anyone can make a grilled cheese sandwich. But unlike most gentrified comfort foods, elevating this pinnacle of pragmatic American cooking into the realm of haute cuisine doesn't require a culinary degree or time spent behind a professional stove. That's the appeal of the Grilled Cheese Invitational; it allows amateur cooks to unleash their inner "Iron Chef."

"For the longest time the grilled cheese sandwich was held prisoner to the children's menu," says the event's founder and organizer, Tim Walker, a comedy writer and performer. "But there's such an amazing world of cheese out there that the possibilities of mixing cheese with bread are endless."

Held during National Grilled Cheese Month, this weekend's annual cook-off is expected to draw nearly 300 sandwich makers and 1,700 sandwich eaters to Los Angeles State Historic Park, where would-be champions can compete in three categories: Missionary Position (a true test of grilling skill, only bread, butter and cheese are allowed); Kama Sutra (a free-for-all of savory ingredients); or Honey Pot (dessert sandwiches).

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A cornfield blossoms into a field of grilled cheese

A grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar, ham, chopped olives, mustard and pickles at Clementine.If you build it, they will come. Located just north of downtown, the former site of the "Not a Cornfield" art installation (known officially as Los Angeles State Historic Park) will be the location for this weekend's Grilled Cheese Invitational. Toasted bread, melted cheese and hundreds  of grills going at once? That's our field of dreams.

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: A grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar, ham, chopped olives, mustard and pickles at Clementine. Credit: Anastasia Sotiropulos.

Grilled Cheese Month: Bottoms up!

Grilled cheese with sage and fontina cheese. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times. Credit: A glass of Shark Bite Red. Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times.

Relentlessly covering the gooiest beat in town, we offer a few more events for National Grilled Cheese Month.

Cheese & Beer, Part 1: Every Sunday night during April, Andrew Steiner of Andrew's Cheese Shop hosts Grilled Cheese and Beer Nightat his shop. It's a casual affair with guests gathering around a communal table to try six or seven different sandwiches each paired with a different microbrew. Cost is $35 per person. Events begin at 6:30 p.m. and usually sell out well in advance. Andrew's Cheese Shop, 728 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. (310) 393-3308, www.andrewscheese.com

Cheese & Beer, Part 2: Campanile, the patron saint of the L.A. grilled cheese scene with its grilled cheese Thursdays, is offering a specially priced dinner on Friday, April 17. "Cheese, Grilled - Beer, Chilled" ($25) features a flight of three grilled cheese sandwiches, each paired with a different beer: grilled cheese with burrata, fried chickpeas and harissa(Pilsner Urquell); Cuban grilled cheese with ham, sliced pork, Gruyere, pickles and mustard (Dobbelen IPA Tripel) and grilled cheese with braised lamb, feta, cherry tomatoes and mint yogurt (Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout). 624 S. La Brea Ave., L.A. (323) 938-1447, www.campanilerestaurant.com

--Elina Shatkin

Photo: Grilled cheese with sage and fontina cheese. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times. Credit: A glass of Shark Bite Red. Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times.

Get toasted! It's Grilled Cheese Month

April is the best time of year to get toasted, and we're not saying that because of tax day. April is National Grilled Cheese Month, and here are a few places to celebrate:

A grilled cheese sandwich with roasted shallots at Lucques You can now create your own custom grilled cheese sandwich for $4 at Patinette, the MOCA café. Their new Grilled Cheese Workshop lets you choose your bread (white, wheat, rye, walnut currant or ciabatta), your cheese (mozzarella, Gruyère, chipotle cheddar, Point Reyes blue, Fontina, Brie or goat) and your condiments (mustard, pesto, garlic or yuzu aioli). Extras like vine-ripened tomatoes, grilled onions, dill pickles, grilled chicken, Pullman ham, bacon, oven-roasted turkey and lettuce will cost you $1. Patinette, 250 S. Grand Ave., L.A. (213) 626-1178, www.patinagroup.com

During weekday lunch hours (11:30 a.m. to  3 p.m.), Rush Street is serving a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup for $6. Rush Street, 9546 Washington Blvd., Culver City. (310) 837-9546, www.rushstreetculvercity.com

Heat up those irons. Registration is now open for the Grilled Cheese Invitational to be held April 25 at an as yet undisclosed location in downtown L.A. Bring your creativity (but not your flame thrower) to this grill-off, which is divided into three categories: the Missionary Position: bread, butter and cheese; the Kama Sutra: a free-for-all of savory ingredients; and the Honey Pot: dessert-style grilled cheese sandwiches. Only 300 competitors will be allowed to register and they MUST do so in advance. Judges, on the other hand, can only register on-site, and there's room for 1,700 of them. Click here for more details or to sign up. This year's event also includes a beer and wine garden, with proceeds going to an as yet unannounced charity. www.grilledcheeseinvitational.com.

[More grilled cheese madness after the jump.]

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Let's get gooey: April is Grilled Cheese Month!

Clementinegrilledcheese Now that we're recovering from our cupcake-induced coma and the sugar madness is slowly ebbing away, it’s time to get fatty again. April 1 marks the beginning of National Grilled Cheese Month, and perhaps nobody celebrates our gooiest national holiday better than Clementine.

This year, the Westside restaurant pays homage to retro Los Angeles by offering cheese-themed vintage postcards and 25 different grilled cheese sandwiches. There will be five new sandwiches per week with a weekly special created by a guest chefs such as  Suzanne Goin (A.O.C., Lucques), Nancy Silverton (La Brea Bakery, Campanile, Mozza), Amelia Saltsman (author of "The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook"), Evan Kleiman (Angeli Caffé) and Jimmy Shaw (Loteria). 

[More specifics on the sandwiches and info about the Grilled Cheese Invitational after the jump.]

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