by Charlie Coxon ’19
As a forewarning to the reader, I really love goat cheese. It’s an acquired taste, the pungent sweetness of the mush. I love it for its flavor, its texture, and its sophistication. I revel in few things more than some goat cheese on crackers.
On the complete opposite end of the sophistication spectrum, I love a nice grilled cheese. It’s crispy, it’s gooey, it’s everything I want on Earth.
Each of these things stand fine on their own, certainly no complaints. But, sometimes, the mad scientists of the food world dare to make us question why we’ve “Romeo and Julietted” these two delicious entities away from each other.
Enter Hartford Baking Company, who have created the indulgent and almost overwhelming concoction of the GOAT grilled cheese: a grilled cheese made with goat cheese and a light tomato purée.
I am a longtime lover of Hartford Baking Co., or HBC for short. Though I am a creature of habit when it comes to my meals, I always find myself trying new things when I’m there.
Every time I walk in, my tiny brain latches onto the first item I see and says “ME WANT! FOOD!” so I’m obligated to order and devour it. As part of HBC’s Grilled Cheese Month, a much more exciting synonym for “April,” I saw the dish on their Instagram page.
Yes, for those of you are wondering, I follow Hartford Baking Co. on Instagram because I am not a fake fan.
The moment I saw this sandwich I knew that I had to have it within the next 48 hours or I would probably burst into flames.
So, my good friend Jon Fu and I hit the streets seeking out the best grilled cheeses we could find.
We enter together, taking in the sleek yet rustic feel on the HBC. Exposed brick and ceiling fixtures are offset in tone by the iPad being used as a cash register. A rack of freshly baked breads sits behind the register, making me wonder if it would be too strange if I purchased an entire loaf of French bread along with my meal.
I shook off this thought however and ordered a mocha and the coveted GOAT grilled cheese.
The mocha arrived first, and it was heavenly. A lot lighter than most mochas I usually get, this was more similar to a hot chocolate than a coffee. A smooth foam sits over the top which keeps the mocha from immediately scalding my entire mouth.
Instead I get to go through a few sips that are really pleasant and THEN I get to scald my mouth. Still, I would gladly burn off my tastebuds again for another one of HBC’s mochas. It’s easily my favorite in West Hartford center.
Only a few minutes after my mocha came the main event, the GOAT grilled cheese. This thing looked absolutely delicious.
The toast was very thick, fresh, and stayed totally dry throughout the meal. This is really important because the tomato puree could have easily broken down the toast and made the whole experience a big mess. Instead, the two pieces of thick cut toast act like beds that all of the goat cheese and tomato puree can rest on.
As the main flavor of the sandwich, the goat cheese was extremely prominent. This already very flavorful and sweet cheese is spread liberally throughout the sandwich, making it feel almost like a cheesecake from how indulgent the flavor and the texture is.
The goat cheese was actually not fully melted upon serving, contrary to a typical grilled cheese. Instead, it was simply warmed and left to be its beautiful, gooey self interspersed within the hot tomato puree, allowing the cheese to melt naturally inside of the sandwich.
The tomato puree was very sweet, almost like it were made of a savory kind of apple.
I think this was a very smart choice, as the acidity of a raw tomato would have contrasted too much with the sweetness of the goat cheese.
Instead, the puree enhances the sweetness of the goat cheese. While providing only some acidity to cut through all of the richness.
Overall, this sandwich was many things. Delicious, crispy, gooey – any of these are applicable. However, if I could encapsulate the GOAT grilled cheese in a feeling, I would describe how despite my consumption of an entire mocha, I felt an almost immediate need to take a big nap right after eating the sandwich.
The utter richness of the whole ordeal made all of my senses foggy and made it hard to drive back to school. If only it were still grilled cheese month so I could have the GOAT grilled cheese again, but sadly that day will not be any time soon.
Now if I want to take a nap I need to pop a Nyquil at 12:00 p.m. like a regular person.