Thursday, July 15, 2010

You Had Me At Hello

I had my first food epiphany while I was studying abroad in Brussels.  It was one of the first few days where personalities are masked with politeness and everyone is getting to know each other and we're all one big group vs. mini cliques. It was one of those rare sunny days in Brussels and what better way to spend the afternoon than have an outdoor lunch on stone ridden grounds of Grand Place with new "friends". I ordered a panini (no idea what a panini was - could have been 2 pieces of toast for all I knew) which my unenlightened taste-buds assumed to be a simple sandwich consisting of pears, cheese, greens, and honey on toasted bread.

When my sandwich came out I was visually blown away! It was nothing I had expected, this sandwich was sheer perfection.  Then I took a bite - OMG!!!  The sweetness of the pears combined with the crunchy bitterness of arugula and saltiness of prosciutto (which also was a first), all saturated in a medley of caramelized honey and brie in between the most perfect two pieces of ciabatta that had me at hello!

Since, I have spent years trying to re-create the perfect pear and brie panini in hopes of reliving that moment, with no avail. Come to think of it can you ever relive first moments? A first love? A first kiss? I guess it's that special allure of "the firsts". First European experience. First conversations. First pear, brie and prosciutto panini. Whatever the reason, I must say, and The Suitor will agree, there is nothing like a pear and brie panini to satisfy the wildest of cravings!

Pear Brie Panini
Ciabatta or any other hearty bread of your liking!
Triple Cream Brie (rind removed)
Fresh Arugula
Olive Oil 

1. You can use a panini grill, but I personally love using a grill pan. Preheat the panini machine. Cut uniform slices of ciabatta and brush with olive oil on both sides. Grill the bottom pieces until golden brown. Approximately 4 minutes. Repeat with the top slices of the bread.

2. While the top slices heat, start assembling the sandwich on the bottom pieces.  Layer evenly with brie. Next add a layer of pear and honey. Add some arugula and prosciutto and a dab of salt and pepper for seasoning. 

3. Finish off the sandwich with the top layer of bread and return to the panini grill for another minute or two. Just until the cheese starts melting and bon appetite!

I will occasionally substitute the olive oil for butter and use a french baguette, if I am lucky enough to hit up the bakery while they are still steaming!


  1. Hi Dhara, I love your food blog! This sounds so good, although I love anything with brie so that's easy :)

    Can't wait to keep reading!

  2. Fantastic writing, and now I am craving a panini. And I have already eaten.

  3. good job, girl! i can now proudly say i am up to date on your blog (saved the first blog for last, and it was worth it :).