2017 National Grilled Cheese Day

Wednesday, April 12 was National Grilled Cheese Day. In the past, I never cared about these "holidays," but this year, I was on a mission to celebrate properly.

I've noticed recently that there's a holiday for everything. National Pet Day, National Umbrella Day and National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. These holidays are fun excuses to post pictures of whatever is being celebrated, especially on National Dog Day, but I can't help but be cynical. Who invented some of those ludicrous holidays and why do we partake in them?

I typically don't give these days too much attention, but when I found out it was National Grilled Cheese Day, I was intrigued. Why, you ask? Because I am fully taking on my self-made title of "The Cravings Queen." I feel it is my duty to experience food in all ways (even made up holidays).

My first task was to pick a restaurant (I wanted to treat myself instead of making one at home). Obviously, The Grilled Cheese Bistro in Norfolk came to mind. I've heard great things about this place from friends, so this was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, GCB's hours didn't quite work with my work schedules. If only my jobs understood the importance of having a fantastic grilled cheese on National Grilled Cheese Day.

Next, I went to one of my favorite apps, Yelp, for guidance. Once I removed the restaurants that only had grilled cheese as an option on the kids menu, I wasn't left with much.

Hair of the Dog Eatery in Virginia Beach had great reviews on their Formaggio Alla Griglia, which is literally "grilled cheese" in Italian. This grilled cheese is true to its Italian roots, using mozzarella prosciutto, roasted red peppers, arugula, parmesan tomatoes and a pesto aioli on rustic Italian bread. I'm sorry, but while this does sound delicious, it is not a grilled cheese.

The staples of a classic grilled cheese include buttery bread and melted cheese. To me, a real grilled cheese can't be too loaded with extras and MUST achieve a cheese pull. A cheese pull just confirms that the cheese is as gooey as it should be.

Hair of the Dog's Italian grilled cheese sounds more like a panini. Paninis are not as reliant on cheese so you can add other ingredients like meats and vegetables. Since I did have something more specific in mind, my search continued.

My co-worker then told me about a grilled cheese she recently had at Brick Anchor Brew House in Norfolk. The Short Rib Grilled Cheese combines 2 oz of pulled rib meat, grilled tomato and bacon with three types of cheese. Yes, three: Wisconsin cheddar, provolone and Swiss. I was immediately in love.

My go-to grilled cheese when I make them at home has bacon, tomato and cheddar. The short rib meat on Brick Anchor's elevates my version beyond my wildest dreams.

I set off for downtown Norfolk. While looking for a parking spot, I decided to drive past Grilled Cheese Bistro since it was right down the street. It certainly wasn't hard to find. The line was out the door, and I knew I made the right decision. After about five minutes of circling the restaurant, I found a clutch metered spot off Granby Street.

Brick Anchor was no where near as slammed as GCB, so I had no problem finding a seat by the window (perfect for people watching). I told my server that I didn't even need a menu because I was ready to order. The wait for my grilled cheese took less than 10 minutes.

I drooled a little when my server set the grilled cheese down in front of me. I could immediately smell the spiced bistro sauce on the rib meat. The white bread looked like toasted, buttery perfection. I took my first bite and even though the sandwich was still hot, I didn't stop chewing. On my second bite, I slowly moved my face away from the sandwich. Cheese pull achieved.With each bite, I got a little bit of everything, from the rib meat to the bacon and of course the cheeses. It wasn't a massive sandwich so I wanted to savor all of it. I didn't even realize that my meter was about to expire by the time I finished.

I officially have a new appreciation for these obscure holidays. I certainly be using all the food-centric days to have a new culinary experience.