Last weekend Reed and I stopped by the Bedford Post Inn for lunch while we were driving around Connecticut and the Hudson Valley looking for summer rentals in the area. This handsome boutique hotel about an hour northeast of New York City has glamourous connections.
One of the founders and owners of the Bedford Post Inn is Richard Gere. Also its rumored that Martha Stewart lives nearby and occasionally rides her horse over to the Inn for brunch. Sadly, neither made an appearance while we were there last Sunday but the excellent food more than made up for the disappointment.
The Bedford Post Inn looks like it was restored by Hollywood royalty with the guidance of Connecticut’s most famous taste maker. Everything is just so. The yoga loft leads out to a quiet private garden. A pair of lawn chairs rest out on the grass just far enough away from the terrance for private reflection and the Inn’s eight rooms are elegantly appointed in understated neutrals.
Someday it would be lovely to stay there but this time we were visiting to try the Bedford Post Inn’s casual dining option, the Barn.
While Reed was planning to order the Hammy-Cheesy-Eggy-Croissant, he was swayed when he asked our server what her favorite item on the menu was and without hesitation she said the Dutch Pancake. He’s a sucker for pancakes and it was a really good pancake. Light and fluffy in the extreme. Almost soufflé-like.
I, on the other hand, was ready for lunch. I went with the Brie, Portobello Mushrooms, and Pesto Panini because I thought it would be small and I wasn’t that hungry.
However the Bedford Post Inn does not follow in the Italian tradition of paninis (i.e. panini translates to a small sandwich). No. Their’s was a mighty panini. Each slice of bread was almost an inch thick. I thought I’d never finish it. But then I took a bite and it was as delicious as it was mighty. A lot of butter involved and I’m ashamed to say I ate the whole thing with very little help from Reed.
Creating my own Portobello, Brie and Pesto Panini was pretty easy except it didn’t occur to me to chill the brie before cooking and that would have been a very good idea. I used room temperature brie; a mistake. In the picture below the time lapse between the first and second shot is probably only five or ten seconds. Very quickly my brie was melting out of my sandwich and onto the pan. Using chilled brie would have given me more time to brown the sandwich.
This is one of those simple recipes with few ingredients so the ingredients should all be top notch. That said I did use store bought pesto. It didn’t deliver the brightness of the pesto from the Bedford Post Inn’s sandwich but for only a few tablespoons of pesto I didn’t want to get into making my own.
Panini with Brie, Portobello Mushroom & Pesto (serves 2)
(Active time: 20 minutes)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 slices of hearty white bread (I used sourdough)
- 2 portbello mushrooms, stems & dark gills removed
- 1/3 lb brie, rind removed, chilled and sliced
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp pesto sauce (I used store bought pesto)
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are tender, flipping occasionally, about 6 minutes. Season mushrooms to taste with salt and pepper; transfer to plate. Remove from heat. Wipe out skillet.
Arrange 2 bread slices on work surface; spread with pesto. Top with mushrooms (cut mushroom to fit), then cheese dividing equally. Top each with bread slice. Spread butter on top of each sandwich.
Heat reserved skillet over medium heat. Place sandwiches, buttered side down, in skillet. Spread remaining butter on tops. Cook until golden on bottom, occasionally pressing with spatula, about 3 minutes. Turn sandwiches over. Cook until golden on bottom and cheese is melted, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer sandwiches to plates; cut in half and serve.
-The Panini with Brie, Portobello Mushroom & Pesto is substantial sandwich so its best served with a light salad.