Cheese Week! Cheese is for kids.

Cheese isn’t just for grown-ups, you know.

And kids shouldn’t be limited to cheeses that come in bright packaging with illustrations on it, having them identify more with a character than the contents of the cheese.

Which is why I was thrilled when I noticed that the Minnesota Cheese Festival offers a kids rate for their event, coming up September 14 and 15 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Compared to the $15 general admission rate, kids age 10 and younger can get in for only $10.

In our pre-kid life, my husband and I liked to joke about how we’d seriously consider home-schooling our children, because how else would they ever learn to identify their soft cheeses from the semisoft? We’re fortunate, though, that a nearby grocery store has not only a nice selection of cheeses but also a basket that’s become known around our house as “little heavenly bits of cheese”: smaller cuts of an ounce or two of some really expensive brands, giving us a low-risk opportunity to sample something new and find more cheese to love. It did my heart proud one afternoon when we stopped in to pick up a couple of things and I wondered aloud if there was anything else we needed to pick up. “Cheese, Mommy!” piped the little voice of our son. And so we headed off to the basket full of those little heavenly bits of cheese.

Which is the perfect segue to this recipe. One I’ve been wanting to try for a long time, but never seemed to find the right reason to make it. Cheese Week provoked me into action, and as we tasted this glorified grilled cheese my son announced, “when I grow up, I’m going to make this sammich!” I’ve promised to save a copy of the recipe for him. I’m also going to remind him how, when I presented the choice of regular or applewood-smoked gruyere cheese, he hugged the applewood-smoked chunk to his chest as he ran for the shopping cart.

Harry’s Bar Special

IMG_3591(adapted from Epicurious.com)

  • 6 ounces Gruyere or Fontina cheese, coarsely shredded
  • 2 or 3 ounces finely diced ham
  • A generous pinch dried mustard
  • A dash or two Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon heavy cream, adding more as needed for mixture to clump together
  • 8 slices high-quality sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • Olive oil for brushing on bread slices

Combine the cheese, ham, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and cream in a bowl, mixing until well-combined. Divide mixture among four slices of bread, topping with the remaining four slices. Press down to help bread adhere to the mixture and brush both sides of the sandwich lightly with olive oil.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Place two sandwiches and cook, pressing down with a spatula, until golden brown on the bottom. Flip and toast the other sides of the sandwiches. Repeat with the two remaining sandwiches.

I should note, when browsing cheese selections, I wasn’t at the Minnesota Cheese Festival and there were some taste prejudices in favor of a smoked gruyere – but if I were planning to go to the Minnesota Cheese Festival next month, I’d take my time to sample and note where I could buy some of the cheese I thought would taste best in this recipe.

Want to win your own pair of tickets to the Minnesota Cheese Festival? Check out the giveaway details at the end of this post and throw your cheesehat in the ring. Offer ends this Friday, August 23, at which time a winner will be chosen via Random.org.

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