A dozen types of cheddar and eight varieties of blue cheese should inspire some crazy sandwich combinations.
But Rogue Creamery keeps it simple behind the tiny sandwich counter at its Central Point cheese shop, where two impeccably executed items prove that you can never have too much grilled cheese.
Perhaps it should be expected that the Creamery’s take on — arguably — America’s most beloved sandwich would be a purist’s. Cooked to golden perfection on several panini presses, the sandwiches are quite simply award-winning cheese on custom-baked bread.
No meats competing with the cheese for attention. No seasonal fruits or veggies — not even a ripe, heirloom tomato — to lighten the digestive load. And no spreads, neither mustard nor chutney, nor jam, insinuating themselves between the marriage of melted cheese to fine-textured bread.
The tried-and-true formula appeals as much to the sophisticated palate as the novice. The fact that a 2-year-old sets aside his singular preference for “orange cheese” to devour one of Rogue Creamery’s grilled creations is, to my mind, a powerful endorsement.
From its roster of flavored cheddars — including lavender, chipotle and habanero chili — Rogue Creamery selects Chocolate Stout for its Sebbie’s Special ($5). The cheddar is one of three made with Rogue Ales beer. The Creamery’s cheese shop also stocks a large selection of Rogue’s 22-ounce bottles, even the gimmicky Sriracha HOT Stout and Voodoo Doughnut-themed concoctions.
An extra dollar per sandwich buys the “classic,” replete in two Rogue Creamery cheeses: Oregon Blue and TouVelle, a semihard cheese touted for how thoroughly and evenly it melts. The Creamery’s original recipe, TouVelle is reminiscent of cheddar, jack and Gouda cheeses.
A drizzle of honey mellows the robust blue cheese, liberally applied with TouVelle to bread that Coquette Bakery crafts exclusively for the Creamery’s sandwiches, available since late 2013. Baguettes from the Central Point bakery, along with Applegate Valley Artisan Breads, also are available at the cheese shop.
The array of specialty foods, both locally manufactured and imported from abroad, prompted us to assemble a gift basket for friends. Pricing is on the upper end of Rogue Valley retailers, but high-quality, hard-to-find items often are the reward. The Creamery also sells a variety of gift packs, from $24 to $85 online (www.roguecreamery.com).
To complement vegetables from my garden, I chose Italian burrata, Olympic Provisions salami, Cypress Grove Purple Haze goat cheese, a bottle of Cuckoo’s Nest Cellars Fizzé Early Muscat and a tiny vial of Shibui, a balsamic-vinegar reduction handmade in Jacksonville.
While I shopped, our sandwiches, one Sebbie’s and two classics, cooked. Beer and wine would have completed the order had we intended to dine at one of the café tables or picnic benches outside.
Red and white wines are available by the glass ($6). A rotating selection of craft beers, most recently from Rogue and Southern Oregon Brewing Co., are on tap for $5 per pint. Draft root beer also can be had for $2.50 per pint glass.
Sweet treats, namely artisan chocolate stocked in the cheese shop, would have been a fine finish. Previous stops for grilled cheese, however, have culminated in chocolate-chip cookies from nearby Lillie Belle Farms.
Following the Creamery’s DIY lead, Lillie Belle distills from cacao beans the dark-chocolate chunks that stud its soft, chewy, house-baked cookies. The award-winning chocolatier also processes peanuts into butter for its chocolate chip-peanut butter cookies ($1 apiece). House-baked brownies — plain and pecan-caramel — cost $2.50 each.
To-go bag in hand, my husband and I made haste with our toddler to a playground in the Twin Creeks Crossing neighborhood, where we unwrapped still-warm sandwiches oozing with cheese in layers as thick as the thick-cut bread. Our smiles couldn’t have been wider if someone had said: “Say ‘cheese’!”
Located at 311 N. Front St. (Highway 99), Rogue Creamery’s cheese shop is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Call 541-665-1155.
— Sarah Lemon