Lately, I’ve been dreaming a lot about summer, and recently, I got a tiny taste of it when my family met up for a weekend away at the historic Weekapaug Inn in Weekapaug, Rhode Island. The Inn comes to life in the summer, but winter at the Inn is also magical. You can bundle up and take long walks on the beach, hit the exercise room, and the menu at The Restaurant stays true to its commitment to local and seasonal ingredients, which is still possible here in cold, snowy New England. Executive Chef Jennifer Backman told me that in winter, she turns to tiny greens from a nearby greenhouse, local seafood, and “storage items” like potatoes, squash, and garlic.
We arrived at the Inn on Saturday and dove right into lunch. Simon and I split an Adult Grilled Cheese made with grilled apple, Vermont cheddar, Brie, and fig jam on sourdough bread just as my mom and dad pulled in from CT. (Read on for my homemade version of the sandwich …)
Yes it was cold and windy as you can see from my flying scarf, but I still braved the weather as I walked from the Inn to the beach.
The Inn was built in 1899. Its Yankee decor is cozy and welcoming, the surrounding community is cute and oh-so quiet this time of year, and it was the perfect meeting place for my family, located halfway between Boston and Connecticut.
Chef Backman’s menu is playful and creative, and it’s rooted in local traditions and familiar food favorites. It draws inspiration from the land, the sea, and the sky; this Native Monkfish was served with saffron risotto, grilled pancetta, caramelized fennel, and oil cured olives. Yes please!
I needed to take a long walk on Sunday morning to build up my appetite for brunch. The three-course menu came complete with “bites to share,” “choice of …,” and “sweets for the table.”
Check out this brunch starter: artisanal cheese and charcuterie plate, cornichon, pickled onion, mustard chicken liver mousse, and ciabatta.
There is no way my gourmet grilled cheese creation was as luscious as the one I got at the Weekapaug, but Simon and I still loved it. In fact, we’ve had it twice since our visit. I used less cheese, and I didn’t grill the apple; instead, I sautéed it. I think sliced pear would also be amazing. Since I don’t own a panini press, I had to improvise with my kettle!
- Serves: 2
- Serving size: 1 sandwich
- Calories: 420
- Fat: 14g
- Saturated fat: 7g
- Carbohydrates: 50g
- Sodium: 570mg
- Fiber: 5g
- Protein: 15g
- Half a medium red apple, thinly sliced into rounds or wedges
- 2 teaspoons expeller pressed canola oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons raspberry jam or fig jam
- 4 slices whole grain sourdough bread
- 2 to 4 tablespoons shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
- 2 ounces Brie cheese, broken up into small chunks
- Heat ½ teaspoon of the canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the apples and cook until heated through and slightly softened, 1 minute per side.
- To create the sandwiches, spread the jam evenly on each of the 4 slices of the bread. Sprinkle the Cheddar cheese evenly over 2 of the slices and then top evenly with the cooked apples and Brie. Top with the remaining bread slices.
- Heat 1 more teaspoon of the oil in the skillet over medium heat. Carefully place the sandwiches in the skillet and cook until golden on the bottom, about 3 minutes. (I don't have a panini press, so I used a filled kettle as a "weight.") Add the remaining ½ teaspoon oil, flip, and cook until the other sides are golden, another 3 minutes. Slice and serve.