What about that kiss?

Do you remember your first kiss? I remember mine, vividly! Had it with the boy next door and I was just 11 (!) years old.
It lasted only a second or two and wasn't the best kiss or anything a girl wants to imagine about first kisses, but, even so, with the elements of never before and the surprise, those few seconds there felt special and I will never forget it.
"First kiss moments" can be of true joy or sheer horror, which ever it is of, it has a special effect on us, making those times carve into our memory for all after.
But why is that? Perhaps because there and then we experience something so intensive that our entire consciousness is consumed in favor of that happening. Afterwards, when the moment's gone, it feels like we've been through something eventful.

Paris, Late December 2007

Never before and forever after, food can be so memorable it's a true sense of eternity.
I had one of those moments happen to me on my second visit to Paris, on a weekend getaway I took with my mom in honor of her birthday.
What an unforgettable weekend in oh so beautiful-Christmas-dressed-delicious PARIS! Yes, Paris is everything they say it is…
Since we weren't really prepared for the weather, with the rain and frozen wind piercing our faces as we strolled throughout the city, we found shelter in cafés, shops and museums.  
Day three, coming sundown after spending a few hours at the Orsay museum, with the temperature outside dropping by the minute and rain starting again, it was definitely time for an early dinner and hot coffee.
Somewhere half way from the Orsay towards our next destination – the Notre-Dame cathedral, we stepped into a small old and crowded café on the corner of the street, where I was kissed for the first time, again.
Only this time I was kissed by a grilled cheese and mushrooms sandwich, drenched in magic cheese sauce. It was so good it made me shut up, stop complaining about the cold (and do I HATE it when I'm cold!) and eat in silence.
Awesome rustic bread, a riot of mushrooms in between, and cheese sauce melting all over. What more could be asked for?
First bite? Even for Paris, surprise!
Second bite? MY GOD! True appreciation.
Third bite? Oh joy, I'm in the eye of a taste storm! I'm not cold anymore, don't remember I had a sore throat, forgot all about my feet freezing in wet socks, don’t mind the tiny table or the waitress shoving against me every time she passes. Just like that my reality was narrowed to the plate before me. That good.
I came back a few years later hoping for a rerun, but instead of the crowded old café with the yellow walls, I found a designed clean cut (but) cheery patisserie, its white glass counters packed with cakes and display windows showing off infinite amounts of macaroons.

First thing's first, sandwiches are the ultimate food. Stick to good bread, match it to the content and keep away from water-based fluids that would make it soggy and you are probably good to go.

Second, look, it's not EXACTLY it, and took me a while and a few tryouts before it came together to something familiar, but hey! It's close enough and tastes awesome! Believe me you want to try this…  

Cheese and Mushrooms grilled sandwich

? 25 minutes
1 Sandwich

2 medium 1cm slices of French white bread (Rustic, Pain de mie or even Brioche)   
200g Champignons and Portobello mushrooms mix, sliced or quartered
2 Shallots, finely sliced
1 teaspoon Extra virgin Olive oil
2 teaspoon butter
30g Cheddar cheese, grated
3-4 tablespoon Mornay sauce
Chives cuts
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1.    Heat a heavy-based medium size frying pan, over medium-high heat. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of butter into the olive oil, then add the shallots and mushrooms. Stir to coat, and spread over so the shallots and mushrooms get maximum pan contact. Cook the mixture and occasionally stir and spread, until it's softened and evenly cooked. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
2.    Lightly butter both bread slices on one side, and place the buttered side down. Top the bread with the mushrooms and shallots mixture (leave 2-3 tablespoons for plating later), and coat with the grated Cheddar cheese.
3.    Close between the two slices (buttered sides are exterior) and place in a sandwich press toastie-maker or in a medium-high heated non-stick and non-oiled frying pan. Heat until both sides are crispy golden brown and the cheese inside melted (about 3-4 minutes).
4.    Plating: Coat the sandwich with 3-4 tablespoons of Mornay sauce, the left mushrooms-shallots mixture and sprinkle grated Cheddar cheese and chives on top.  

Mornay Sauce

Mornay sauce is basically a Béchamel sauce with cheese. Very easy and yummy! Though usually made with gruyere, taste and color wise I make it with Cheddar and Parmesan, so here goes:
? 10 minutes
2 cups


50g butter
2 tablespoon white flower
2 cups of warm milk
100g grated Cheddar cheese
20g grated Parmesan
1 egg yolk
Sea salt    


Heads up: making Béchamel or Mornay sauce (for that matter) requires nonstop stirring – it will burn in seconds if you stop, so make sure you have all ingredients ready before you start…
1.    Melt the butter in medium saucepan, on medium-high heat. Once sizzling, lower the heat to medium and add the flower. Cook while continuously whisking until very lightly golden (about 2 minutes). Do NOT brown the mixture.
2.    Gradually add the milk, half a cup at a time and whisk constantly. Bring to a slow boil and the sauce will start thickening.
3.    When lightly thickened remove from heat, add the egg yolk and grated Cheddar and Parmesan – stir together until smooth and season with salt to your taste.  
So how long is forever? Still don't know… Maybe forever is not to be measured in time.