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Major Meltdown

YCAP Fundraiser a delicious Success

By YVVG STAFF Oregon Wine Country could just as well be labeled Oregon Foodie Country, as the Valley’s dining scene has become as reputable as the surrounding, and compatible, wine scene.

Local dining establishments are renowned for their fresh seafood prepared perfectly, dishes where all ingredients come literally from miles, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Wait, what?

Well, at least every February the comfort food staple takes center stage. The local food bank a few years ago launched The Melt Down, a unique fundraiser in which restaurants cook up their take on a grilled cheese sandwich, and then donates $2 to the food bank for each sale of one in February.

And this is not your grandma’s grilled menu of grilled cheese. This is how Wine Country, home to a growing number of renowned chefs and restaurateurs, does grilled cheese.

To wit: Smoked mozzarella, Rogue Creamery smokey blue, smoked tomatoes and pickled red onions on housemade bread.

To wit: Smoked poblano pepper, cream cheese, mozzarella, house smoked brisket on Texas toast. To wit: marinated ribeye, caramelized onions, green and red peppers with a five-cheese blend on a panini-pressed brioche donut.

And so on. There’s no limit to just what can be added to turn a grilled cheese from a standard to a delicacy: truffle butter; bacon; alfredo sauce; bacon jam; pork belly; duck confit; did we mention bacon? The fundraiser also doubles as a fun competition, with restaurants competing to sell the most in their category, and with diners able to vote for their favorites and determine the People’s Choice award.

“Restaurants love competing, and we love to help and give back to the community,” said Kristi Smith, owner of The Laughing Bean Bistro in McMinnville. Diners can also pick up passports from participating restaurants, get stamps for each grilled cheese purchased and then submit them for awards and prize drawings.

While the event runs for a few weeks, some restaurants will offer their grilled cheese plate as a special or even a regular menu item throughout the year. 

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