I actually had an entirely different post planned for today and was going to forgo writing within our sandwich-themed week. But just yesterday, I took a long car ride, for which I threw together a quick cheese sandwich using the only cheese in my sister's refrigerator. And just like that, whoa. A cheese column was born.
Yep, Havarti. It's a cheese I've probably never even purchased. I've eaten it only by chance and never, truly, by choice. It's a table cheese at best, perhaps more celebrated for its cube-ability on a dinky buffet than for its ability to wow on a refined cheese board, but I think this cheese may rival any other as the best cheese for a sandwich.
Sliced thinly and placed on bread, havarti has more of a condiment-like quality, more akin to mayonnaise or even butter than cheese. My sandwich was as simple as could be: mustard, havarti, and some frisee, in between two pieces of a really soft multigrain loaf. The cheese had this almost melty quality, the way that it sunk into those fluffy slices of bread. It's nearly sticky, it's so fatty. I found myself remarking after each bite just how this grocery store commodity cheese was entirely responsible for the deliciousness of my simple sandwich.
Havarti is rich. It tastes like softened, salted butter. Really, it does. My grandmother used to butter her bread for sandwiches, which I always loved. It's the butter devotee in me. I don't think I've buttered a sandwich since I sat in her kitchen during summers of my childhood, though. But now, this havarti-on-a-sandwich move of mine is a sure way to cull up some nostalgia.
If it's a plain cheese sandwich you're after, with only a condiment or two and perhaps a slice of tomato or some lettuce, I think havarti may be exactly right. Paired with another, more toothsome cheese might be nice, too, to offer a textural contrast. If placed directly on the bread itself, you'll get this buttered-bread effect to your sandwich.
My havarti sandwich moment made me think of two other applications for havarti, mainly due to its similarity to butter: on white bread with thinly sliced cucumber and fresh dill, to mimic a tea sandwich, and grated into scrambled eggs, because eggs plus butter equals heaven.
As for what I had planned to cover this week, you'll just have to check back next Wednesday.
Nora Singley used to be a cheesemonger and the Director of Education at Murray's Cheese Shop. Until recently she was a TV Chef on The Martha Stewart Show. She is currently a freelance food stylist and private chef in New York City.