Thursday, November 29, 2007


Years ago, on one of our Family Journeys between New York and South Florida, we stopped at a Holiday Inn where, during the course of our stay, we tucked into a pleasant dinner in the hotel restaurant.

As I perused the menu there, I noticed that one of the dessert items - apparently a signature dish at the Holiday Inn chain in those years - was apple pie with cheddar cheese baked right into the crust.

This struck me as bizarre, and I made a comment to that effect. Whereupon I was informed by my father (Eli, hizzownself) that cheddar cheese was a natural accompaniment to apple pie, and that, in fact, many people enjoyed a slice of good, crumbly, sharp cheddar with their pie. Thus did the young Elisson learn a small lesson in Fine Living.

With age comes a certain sophistication of the taste buds, an ability to appreciate the subtlety of Grown-Up Food. If anything, it has increased the pleasure I take as I contemplate the marriage of fruit and good cheese. Yesterday, for example, I enjoyed a perfect Bartlett pear, just at the ideal peak of ripeness (an all-too-brief window of time for this particular fruit), with chunks of an aged Gouda-like cheese, pungent and salty. The combination was exquisite.

This evening, as I was casting about for something to gnaw on, I thought again about that marriage of sweet fruit and savory cheese. Apple pie and cheddar. Hey, a pizza is fruit (tomato) and cheese (mozzarella) anyway, innit? How about an American-style apple and cheddar pizza?

Why the hell not? Out came the block of sharp cheddar, the microplane, the spare pack of Harry’s pizza crusts we had shoved into the back of the bread drawer. And a couple of nice Gala apples. (Granny Smiths would’ve been just fine, too.)

Fifteen minutes in the convection oven at 350°F, and here’s what it looked like:

Apple-Cheddar Pizza
Apple-Cheddar Pizza.

The verdict? Not bad, although not quite like apple pie with a slice of cheddar. Maybe I’ll play with this a bit. A thin, hand-made crust, sharper cheddar (or maybe even some aged Gouda to kick up the sodium level a tad...some Parmesan, perhaps?), maybe throw in some pears, too...this could end up being a Classic.

Remember where you saw it first.

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