This is not your lunchbox’s ham and cheese. Smoky ham, taleggio, sweet chutney and basil, grilled on crusty baguette. This is the sandwich I have been wanting all year, maybe all my life. It is one of those rare instances where every ingredient is perfect in itself, in proportion and combination to create a sandwich more than the sum of its parts. It was a lunch of increasing returns, as each bite became better and more interesting, each different than the last. It’s Versailles and Thoreau’s Cabin at Walden Pond rolled into one. Malcolm had the Cuban, which hit every taste sensation: salty, sweet, spicy, and sour. Ham, pork, cheese, pickles and a midly spicy condiment as contradictory as Havana itself, pressed together like lovers in the night. Too much? No. You haven’t had this Cuban. And you have to have this Cuban. The Cheese Iron on Route 1 in Scarborough is magnificent, and it changed my life.
The barnlike structure boasts exposed beams and a quaint farmer’s table. Everywhere there are the good things in life: wine, salami – an entire room of hanging meats, curing – dry pasta, sauces, oils, baked goods and cheese. Glorious cheese. Sitting prettily on top of the display case in profound wedges, with the softer, more delicate varieties such as bleu and brie staying cool inside. It is a treasure trove of earthly delights. And the staff was easy and breezy, chatting, offering samples (which we were powerless not to buy) recommending restaurants and generally being a hell of a lot more awesome than most cheesemongers/mixologists/record store jerks tend to be. I am loathe to refer to picking up lunch as an experience, but it really was a very pleasant…time. I wanted to have all the things in this shop, in my life, all the time. And isn’t that the general idea?