I would bet you that if you stopped anyone on the street and asked them where can I find the best grilled cheese? They would undoubtedly tell you to head to go to MeltKraft, whether in Rittenhouse or Reading Terminal Market this spot knows how to grill up some cheese.
We sat down with Rebecca Foxman who created the concept, she is more than qualified to make a killer grilled cheese after attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and majoring in Hospitality Management at Cornell University. The first MeltKraft opened January 2013 in Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market. The Rittenhouse location opened in August 2015 and now there are 3 locations in New York as well.
Of course the secret is all in the cheese, after all Rebecca says a proper grilled cheese sandwich should be 2/3 cheese. MeltKraft sources all of its cheese from Valley Shepard Creamery in Long Valley, Morris County, NJ (equidistant between Philadelphia and New York).
We have combined years of artisan cheesemaking expertise with modern equipment from around the world and age old European sheep farming practices to create Valley Shepherd Creamery. We take pride in being able to educate and involve the visitor in daily life of a real working sheep dairy while creating over thirty styles of artisan cheeses, yogurt and butter. –Valley Shepard Creamery
It all starts with the cows, sheep, and goats that are raised on the farm. Sheep and goats are seasonal milkers. The milking season starts in April when the lambs and kids are born and ends in November when our ladies stop producing milk. The cycle continues again when they breed our animals over the winter.
At Valley Shepherd, they pride themselves on handmade cheeses crafted in small batches. Using milk from sheep, goats, and cows allows us to perfect classic styles while inventing new, exciting varieties. Cheese making is a long, arduous, yet rewarding process- it can take 6-12 hours just to make 1 style of cheese!
The hillside aging cave houses the cheeses while they develop flavor and texture. It contains four aging rooms that each have their own climate to facilitate the aging of hard cheeses, stinky washed rind, blue cheese, and soft ripened. Aging is a critical and long process for cheese. Valley Shepard’s youngest cheeses are 2 months when they leave the cave- others they keep for up to 2 years! All of this patience and work just adds to the deliciousness you’ll enjoy when you have a grilled cheese made with Valley Shepard Creamery cheese! You can even see photos and projections from the farm on the walls of the MeltKraft Rittenhouse store.
The menu was created with comfort food and nostalgia in mind. Rebecca wanted customers to feel like they are getting a gourmet grilled cheese that is still classic and approachable. So every sandwich is served with Covered Bridge Kettle Chips from New Brunswicks, Canada. The menu stays consistent most of the year with weekly fresh cheeses in the spring and summer showcased in a special sandwich.
Customers can choose from a grilled sandwich, not grilled sandwich, soup, sides, and cookies. The “Not Grilled” Sandwich is a Metropolitan Bakery Baguette with housemade fresh mozzarella cheese with roasted NJ tomatoes. The mozzarella contains too much watter to be grilled and is made in 50-60 lb batches. The Roasted Tomato Soup is actually vegan and served year round. The Kale and Fennel Slaw is a MeltKraft signature. Reading Terminal market also offers gluten-free bread as well as a 8 ft. cheese counter where you can purchase prepackaged cheeses to take home!
The Classic grilled cheese is always adored, but here the Valley Thunder grilled cheese is most popular (more on that later). Rebecca recommends the Somerset made with Somerset gruyere aged 12-18 months served with cured ham, cornichon pickles, and whole grain mustard.
Guernsey cows used to roam over hundreds of acres in Sussex County until the big Holstein black & white cows took their place by making a lot more milk. But Valley Shepard brought them back. Collecting Guernseys from all over Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio they cobbled together a dozen of these beauties and designed a cheese that deserves their reddish, rich milk. The design requires special mold rings from Europe and a special press using giant screws that press down on the three 45 lb wheels that we make at a time. After a year of careful rind washing in the cave, they are ready and worth it. Alpine style in nature with the accompanying nutty tones and the crunchy little surprises, Somerset delivers the best expression of what our 12 red girls give us.Vacuum sealed cheeses may be sold in the future.
For dessert they’ve also got baked goods like cookies and whoopie pies from Flying Monkey Bakery in Reading Terminal Market. Milkshakes are also made with Bassets ice cream. And this summer you can grab an exclusive grilled ice cream sandwich for only $3.50 made on King’s Hawaiin Rolls!
Delivery from RTM is available via Postmates and Rittenhouse delivers via Caviar and Grubhub! So don’t delay, head over to MeltKraft today!
We would like to thank Rebecca Foxman for hosting us at MeltKraft Rittenhouse.