They're not entirely uncommon in the West, either. The sweet jam is a nice counterpoint to the salty cheese and ham.
Nancy Silverton gives a great recipe for Monte Cristos in her bizarrely-named book, <U>Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book</U>. The recipe is found at http://www.ochef.com/r76.htm
. Note that Ms. Silverton first grills, then batters and deep-fries her version.
I'm not sure, but these *may* be on the Grilled Cheese Night menu at Campanile in LA. For those of you who aren't aware, Ms. Silverton is co-owner with her husband, Mark Peel, of Campanile Restaurant, one of my favorite places to eat in the whole wide world. She's also the former owner of La Brea Bakery (right next door), and former pastry chef at Wolfgang Puck's Spago. All this said, Ms. Silverton is incredibly down-to-earth and one of the nicest professionals in the business.
Every Thursday, the bar at Campanile becomes grilled cheese central. $11 or so gets you a grilled cheese sandwich from a menu of a dozen or so, with such choices as a classic grilled cheese, a roasted pear-and-gorgonzola, or a real Croque Madame. These are served with a salad and homemade fries - baby spinach the last time we were there, and they're made at the end of the bar by Ms. Silverton herself. This represents a pretty spectacular value - a great sandwich with fries and a salad in LA for $11 is a good deal, but at Campanile, home of the $32 lamb chops, it's spectacular. I am virtually certain that no other restaurant with a celebrity chef comes this close to Roadfood.
The restaurant has a website at http://www.campanilerestaurant.com
- info on grilled cheese night can be found by clicking Menus, and then selecting Weekly in the lower left-hand corner.