I’d only given cursory thought to attending a work meeting in Anaheim a few days before it happened. Once my colleague mentioned something about the group having lunch at the Anaheim Packing House nearby, I paid swift and serious attention, thinking that, yes, this meeting was integral and important to an upcoming project for my division, and it was very necessary for me to attend.
So I went. And actually, it proved to be a great meeting, one that shared key information about an exercise we’re holding with our regional partners next year. It was a good thing I went. However, my informant had erred on the lunch specifics. The group had not decided to go out for lunch. Instead, the agency who’d hosted the meeting was bringing lunch in – a working lunch with sandwiches from Togo’s. Now, I’m never one to grimace at a hosted lunch, but I had Packing House on the brain. So feeling bad about the mistake, my colleagues who’d made the trip with me to Anaheim obliged when I suggested a quick break on the way back to Long Beach for a to-go sampling from the OC’s hottest food court.
While the two of them went for dessert, I wanted to try something new, as I’d already experienced the decadence that was Pop Bar, serving creamy gelato on a stick. New since my first visit to the Packing House in June was a place called Black Sheep Grilled Cheese Bar (GCB). Yes, I’d already eaten half a turkey sandwich not long before, but the buttery, toasted goodness that was going on there had me curious. And too, how could I pass up a place sharing the name with the 90s hip-hop group who brazenly told us who we could get with (This, or that – This was where it’s at).
I decided on the #1: Frommage blanc, caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes, and arugula pesto, all pressed between two slices of marble rye. There was not much room in my belly but still, I didn’t ask for it to go so I could snap a few pictures of it before trying one small bite, then wrapping it up for a snack to enjoy on the way to my daughter’s volleyball game in Westwood, something to keep me satiated in the thick traffic in which I expected to be stuck. As sumptuous as it looked with cheese oozy-goozing over the crusty edges; as incredible as it smelled, I couldn’t manage even one bite. It was as if that Togo’s sandwich had inflated in my stomach, doubling in sizing and seizing every smidge of space there was of it. I covered the box with a few napkins and headed back to the car with my co-workers, defeated.
But, no. I knew I wanted to write about this grilled cheese and to do it justice, I needed to taste it while fresh and unsoggy. And wow, this sandwich more than lived up to my expectations. While the cheese appeared gooey, it was really more of a creamy soft cheese; a succulent and slightly sweet cheese that married phenomenally well with the zesty tomatoes. You hardly noticed the pesto, but it did its part, the sandwich pulling the ol’ Jerry Maguire line on it saying: “You complete me.” Turns out this was the Lay’s potato chip of sandwiches, in that I couldn’t stop at one bite – even when my belly started hurting; even when I thought the button at the top of my pants might burst. Finally, I found the strength, the guts to put the thing down to be enjoyed later in the day.
Black Sheep GCB’s #1 might be the best thing I’ve sampled so far at the Anaheim Packing House, very much worthy of a return trip. Next time, I will save room to take on the whole thing at once, along with a side and a Packing House cocktail from one of the many bars, savoring it slowly while listening to mellow versions of rock and pop classics played by the hipster guitarist. Yep, I can get with This and That, and then some.