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Black Sheep Grilled Cheese Bar

September 23, 2014

The Anaheim Packing House is more than just PopBar.  Sure, it may be the most popular eatery at this funky food hall, but that didn’t mean there weren’t a bunch of other places to try out.  The reason I was at the Anaheim Packing House for my first trip there was to meet up with a couple of my old high school friends to catch up and reminisce with them.  I hadn’t seen either of them in over a year, right before one of them had left the States to resume her around-the-world travel adventure.  Like me, both of my friends are travelers and like to explore new places and cultures.  One of my friends, almost 5 years ago now, decided that she really wanted to see the world.  With only a vague plan of where she was headed, she set off and we all followed along in her various adventures through Facebook.  After 2+ years, she finally came home for a visit and what was the last time we had gotten together.  After another almost 18 months of travel, she was finally back home, at least temporarily.  So, we decided to get together and catch up and it seemed like Anaheim Packing House would be great place for such an event.  With many different food stalls and eateries to choose from, we were bound to find something we’d all like.

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Ultimately, we found ourselves sitting around the counter at the Black Sheep Grilled Cheese Bar.  As a division of The Cellar in San Clemente, CA, a well-known and popular cheese shop, creating a grilled cheese bar seemed like a natural extension.  And what better place to open up than at the new Anaheim Packing House located in Orange County, not too far up the freeway from where the cheese shop is.  The grilled cheese bar is set up with bar countertops and bar stools that face inwards so that you can watch the cooks making your gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches in a very inviting and homey set up.

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The Black Sheet Grilled Cheese Bar offers up 7 different types of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches that include both savory and sweet options and a whole host of different types of cheeses and other items to go into your grilled cheese.  Be ready, this isn’t the grilled cheese sandwiches from your childhood.  This is grilled cheese taken to a whole different level.  For instance, take grilled cheese sandwich #3 which contains Swiss raclette, cornichons, pickled red onions, and joe’s potato chips.  Swiss raclette, that sounds amazing, and not sure something I’ve seen in a grilled cheese sandwich before.  There’s grilled cheese sandwich #2, which really interested me with manchego, jamon Serrano and quince paste.  However, I had no idea what quince paste was and if I would like it, but the jamon Serrano sure sounded delicious.  There’s the Classic, #6, made with cheddar and Swiss on sourdough.  Or the #5, the Man, with salami and cheese.  And the sweet option #4 made with d’affinois, strawberry coulis and graham cracker crumbs sure sounded fantastic as well.

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To start off the meal, we grabbed a couple of bottles old-fashioned original Rock & Rye soda.  It was described as mix between cherry cola and Dr. Pepper.  And it was quite tasty.  Once you placed your order, you were given your drink and you could sit back at one of the stools lined up at the counter and wait for your food.

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The counter looked into the “kitchen,” as it were, and you could watch your grilled cheese sandwich being prepared and then put into the familiar Panini presses so that the cheese would melt and ooze out of the sandwich.

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Ultimately, from all of the choices, my girlfriends and I all ended up decided on the same exact sandwich, grilled cheese sandwich #1 made with Cypress Grove formage blanc, caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes and arugula pesto.  During the course of our sitting at the counter, I actually got to watch them fresh-make a batch of arugula pesto and it was so mouth-watering.  After being put through the Panini press, the cooked grilled cheese sandwich is cut in half and served in baskets lined with black-and-white checkered paper.  The Cypress Grove formage blanc had such an interesting flavor.  It wasn’t quite a soft cheese, but probably had a texture more like a fresh mozzarella.  It had some substance and form, but also a bit soft and melty and spreadable.  The tangy flavor of the cheese paired nicely with the roasted tomatoes and the acidity of them and the peppery arugula pesto.  The caramelized onions added just the right amount of sweetness to go with the wheat bread the sandwich was made with.  All three of us ended up finishing up all of our sandwiches, so I would say that the grilled cheese sandwich was a winner.

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The concept of having gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches is such an appealing one because it harkens back to our childhoods when we grew up with plain grilled cheese sandwiches of white bread and processed cheese as an easy dinner staple.  It screams comfort food.  But all dressed up with different cheeses and other fillings, these grilled cheese sandwiches call out to us and yet bring us back to our childhood all at the same time.  This particular grilled cheese from the Black Sheet Grilled Cheese Bar left my friends and I wanting for more and curious as to what the other types of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches on the menu tasted like.  I think it’s safe to say I’ll have to go back and give the other sandwiches a try.

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