“Buy on bread, sell on cheese,” goes the old wine merchant’s saw—bread because it is a reasonably neutral “palate-cleanser,” useful as a sensory interlude between wine samples; cheese because it makes most types of wine taste better. (And vice versa: Pierre Androuët wrote in his book The Complete Encyclopedia of French Cheese, “Man has yet to find a better companion to cheese than wine”) One of my favorite preparations of cheese is a variation on that ubiquitous Parisian snack food, the croque-monsieur—a variation, I must confess, inspired by an elaboration of the basic sandwich called the croque campagnard, or “rustic croque,” as served (in two slightly different versions) at two of my regular Parisian cafés, Le Départ and Le St-Séverin, both on the place St-Michel.
Butter bread generously on both sides, then make 4 sandwiches, dividing the prosciutto and cheese evenly between them. Cut each sandwich into 4 equal squares. Grill sandwiches in a bit more butter in a nonstick frying pan, pressing down on them with a spatula and turning them once, until golden brown on both sides. Lightly season the tops.
Serve as hors d’oeuvres or as a light lunch accompanied by a small salad.
© 1992 Colman Andrews. All rights reserved.