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down south

Recipe: house dressing

I hope everyone had a good weekend. We went for a little road trip to New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment. I used to half-snort at New Mexico whenever we visited because I didn’t think much of Albuquerque. I mean, it’s a fine place, but it didn’t stir any deep emotions within me other than the fact that my dear Jeremy is a native son of the town. I always called it Dirt City because I grew up in verdant, lush Virginia. I have now lived in the American West for a total of 13+ years and I love it here.

Perhaps my time in the West has helped me to appreciate New Mexico more? Let’s face it, Colorado is *easy* to fall in love with (at least the western half of the state…), I think New Mexico had to grow on me. Or maybe I just like northern New Mexico and still don’t care much for Albuquerque. Yes, I think it is the latter.

We drove our two cars across the state border, heading south down the San Luis Valley (a high alpine valley atop the Rio Grande Rift) and from the lonely two-lane road, I watched the sun set to my right over the Colorado Plateau. As it dropped behind the mountains, the clouds and sky exploded in a palette of colors that changed and deepened over the next two hours. To my left, I witnessed equally dramatic colors splashed across sky, the Sangre de Cristos, and the valleys and plains. This was New Mexico as I had never witnessed her before – big sky, endless landscapes, achingly beautiful colors. I understood at last what they meant by Land of Enchantment as stars and Venus began to sparkle at me from a velvety purple-blue dusk.

The purpose of our trip was three-fold: 1) deliver the Acura to Jeremy’s brother 2) visit with my aunt and her family and 3) raid the Trader Joes in Santa Fe. We managed all three plus a little bit of exploring. While my aunt is an amazing cook and stuffed us with her fantastic dinners, she also has great taste in good places to eat.

let’s have lunch at counter culture in santa fe

what to choose…

My aunt has a knack for restaurants be they hoity toity, funky and fun, or just plain dives that serve up excellent food. She has been taking me to restaurants since I was a kid and has never once steered me wrong. The woman knows her stuff. I just regret that our visit wasn’t long enough that we could load ourselves with some local New Mexican fare (although my aunt did give me two bags of roasted green chiles!). There was too much to do including my noodling about Santa Fe gathering some special knick knacks for a few very special people.

my mediterranean salad

jeremy had the meatball grinder

We got acquainted with my aunt’s family’s new puppy, Dante. Their old girl, Eska, was a very serious and loyal German Shepherd – a good and smart dog. She passed away in May. Dante is decidedly NOT Eska as he is ridiculously cute and dopey. The cats have made it abundantly clear that they are the boss of him.

new puppy

trinity likes to go for hikes with the family

We hit the road this morning as Jeremy had an ass ton (that’s metric) of work to do and we needed to retrieve our retriever from Camp Crazy. Roo makes road trips way more fun…

sandwich secreto
I am unable to make up a good segue here, so I’ll just jump in head first. My favorite sandwich of all time comes from the Williamsburg Cheese Shop in Colonial Williamsburg. In high school, I took math and science classes at the College of William and Mary which meant I got one of those coveted parking passes to drive to school. It also meant I could swing by the Cheese Shop to grab a sandwich on my way back to the high school when I was feeling indulgent. It’s a simple sandwich: roast beef with muenster cheese on French bread. Jeremy calls it roast beast and monster. Now, you get your choice of mayonnaise, mustard, or house dressing on your sandwich and I am here to tell you that you’d be a FOOL to not order it with house dressing.

an attempt to replicate

mayonnaise, dijon, steak sauce

The house dressing at the Cheese Shop is so popular that people order bread ends and house to dip bread ends into the dressing. They don’t give out the recipe for the dressing, but a friend of mine and I have been fiddling with it over the past several years and others have their guesses too. I have a combination that is good enough to satisfy me all the way out here in Colorado until I go home to visit…

need some diagonal slices of crusty french bread

layer thin-sliced muenster and roast beef

There are just three ingredients, but the proportions are unknown. You should tweak it to your liking. Of course, you don’t have to make it a roast beef and muenster sandwich at all. The house dressing tastes great on turkey, ham, corned beef, cheddar, provolone, swiss…

just make sure you include the house dressing


House Dressing
[print recipe]
in an attempt to replicate the amazing Williamsburg Cheese Shop house dressing

3 parts mayonnaise
2 parts Boar’s Head mustard
2 parts London House steak sauce

Mix together. Spread on sandwich.
Note: If you can’t find these brands, then a dijon mustard and a steak sauce that contains Worcestershire sauce can be substituted.

47 nibbles at “down south”

  1. Rosa says:

    What great food, yummy! That sandwich looks incredibly scrumptious! I’m sure you had a good time there…



  2. Judy (Judy's Gross Eats) says:

    Oh, gosh. Now you’ve made me homesick. I’m a Santa Fe native, you see, and the past few days here in So. Cal. have pushed me to my limits with hot winds and wildfires. I think it’s time to go home and soothe my soul with chile colorado. Maybe some verde as well. Great looking sandwich, by the way.

  3. Mrs Ergül says:

    Ahhhh you’re not showing us enough of New Mexico ;) Remember many of us see the world thru’ your lenses (and blog)!

    What a simple but scrumptious sandwhich! I’m almost drooling!

  4. joanne at frutto della passione says:

    That dressing sounds amazing I will definitely be trying that soon!

  5. Manggy says:

    Whee! I love travel pics! Your aunt sounds so cool. It’s my goal to be a restaurant savant someday ;) (if that doesn’t work out, just being a good home cook would do.) Steak sauce as a sandwich dressing sounds awesome. I wish I could find that particular brand in these parts (hmm, is it anything at all like A1? Heh heh). That roast beef is really pink! I’m not used to it (here, we tend to cook beef until it’s nice and chewy throughout), but I can just imagine how tender it’ll be… (Drool!)

  6. Amy says:

    Whoa, that sandwich looks really, really delicious! Plus I love the idea of calling it “roast beast and monster.” :)

  7. RobinSue says:

    I love the Cheese Shop! We go down to Wburg every year for the Grand Illumination. We also like the College Deli, it is the only place I know that grills their BLTs. We also like the York Town Pub. Very fun place. Now you have my mouth watering for this sandwich! The York Town Rivier Walk is beautiful now and such a nice beach.

  8. Debbie Green says:

    I live in Woodbridge, Va and visit Williamsburg every year. I know the cheese shop you are writing about. Nice shop and they have some great restaurants in the area too!!!!

  9. Margie says:

    I am beyond hungry and homesick. sniff, sniff. Your car trip through The Valley had you just inches away from my best friend, my oldest sis.

    Do you really need all that green chili? I think you should dump a bit of it into my fridge. ;)

    I never appreciated Albuquerque. I’d flown into this city from time to time, but never traveled it by auto. A family member moves to Nevada and we find ourselves driving to visit about twice a year (we travel with our Lab). Well, you can imagine my surprise as we are approaching the city from the east one late afternoon, early winter, snowflakes falling, canyon calling and hubby (Texas native), driving. This rental doesn’t have snow tires and we ain’t got none of them thar chain thingies. Oh, forget about his driving, let me just get to the point: SPLENDOR! I was captivated by the beauty before me. For hours we struggled the tumbleweed and sagebrush of the barren North Texas Panhandle region only to have this majesty unfold itself before our eyes. Albuquerque is like no other! And the food….OH MY!

    Speaking of, I need some steak sauce and some muenster, and……..

  10. manisha says:

    I read NM and went straight to your photoblog first! :-D Did you get a chance to capture any of their vivid sunsets? Ours are really pale in comparison!

    The Cat who Hikes is damn cute!

  11. cindy says:

    my mother is headed to nm for christmas…i have never been and am excited for her to go and tell me all about it. i am glad you had a great, albeit short, trip.

  12. jennywenny says:

    I dont even eat meat and that sandwich looks bloody lovely! I also love the cat, trinity is such a cool name, even cooler that she goes on hikes. My husbands cat, suggs, used to accompany him on his first block or two walk to the pub on a monday evening!

  13. Andrea says:

    Mmmm, green chiles! I literally dream about my mother’s green chile. She use to buy a bushel freshly roasted from the farmers market and make a batch big enough to last us through the winter. We ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The first time she and her friend made it they had no idea how hot the chilies were and her friend had to run down to the stream that ran through our neighborhood on her way home to dunk her hands in the cold water! They knew to wear gloves after that!
    I can’t wait to see what you make out of them.

  14. Melanie says:

    Hi Jen
    your lunch looks amazing, i was wondering what you like to get from Trader Joes ? i’m from Vancouver Island and i was thinking of crossing the boarder there is one in Bellingham it’s a long trip and i would love some input on what to get :) oh and if you ever come our way again we are on the north end of the island “Salmon Capital of the world” please let us know, but there is not good Chinese resturants here sorry but great Sushi :)

  15. Nick says:

    Hi Jen!
    Just came across your site. The photos look so nice, especially for that sandwich! I might have to steal that recipe and put it in the running for the ultimate grilled cheese which is one of my ongoing searches.

    Love the site and your animals look awesome.


  16. Cindi says:

    Hi there,
    I have been reading your blog for months and I really enjoy it. But todays blog really brought back tons of memories for me. My parents lived in the San Luis valley for 15 years, just moving within the last two years. When we visited we flew into Alb. NM and drove to there house from there. Santa Fe was always on the travles as that is where my mother grew up. Taos was a favorite of my little girls.
    I also lived in Williamsburg, VA for a year, and also loved going to the Cheese Shop.
    You brought a smile on to my face today. I just wanted to thank you.

  17. Sophie says:

    That dressing sounds amazing! I bet it would even taste great as a marinade, though I’d love it in that sandwich!

  18. knitopia says:

    Mmm, Cheese Shop (W&M alumna here). It’s been three years since I’ve had one of their sandwiches. I prefer the turkey with provolone and house dressing. I will have to try your recipe!

  19. tokyoastrogirl says:

    I’m drooling on my keyboard. Thanks.

  20. Steph says:

    Damn that looks good. I have a weakness for Muenster cheese. Combined with steak sauce, mayo and mustard on roast beef? How could that go wrong?

  21. Mollie says:

    That cat is the most muscular, aggressive looking house cat I’ve ever seen! Ha! He looks like one SERIOUS customer… in fuzzy wuzzy gray and white fur. :)

    Sandwich looks yummmmmmy… I love roast beast and monster….

  22. Lezel Safi says:

    NM is somewhat of a strange state…have gone there for years and years and love the Northern part, Enchanted Circle, esp. Red River and Taos (please tell me you’ve experienced Michaels Kitchen.) and Santa Fe (love the Shed, though so cliche being on the Square) (killer margaritas though!). Then I was lucky enough (insert the chuckles) to have ALL of NM, E & W Texas (are you jealous yet?!) and my home state of O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A in my last job with Xerox……little tip there ain’t nuthin’ in West Texas or Southern NM (Las Cruces, Hobbs, Roswell) that you need to see (though White Sands is gorgeous!)! Sorry to offend anyone but that’s my opinion and I’m stickin’ to it! Needless to say, after this assignment, I hightailed it out of the corporate world, no thank you very much!

    Going to try the sauce soon, looky tangy and yummy!

    Made the Pasta e fagoli tonight, was a hit with the hubby and he even figured out the cinnamon in the background…impressive for him!

  23. Tartelette says:

    Welcome back! I laughed because first thing we did when Lisa picked me up at the airport was to go to Trader Joes and Sur La Table. My suitcase jumped from 33 pounds to 46 on the way back :)
    Best sandwich I have seen in a while!

  24. Graeme says:

    You’re not going to tell us that sandwich managed to stay together for more than 2 bites?
    Doesn’t matter; I could deal with that dressing all over my hands. :)

  25. Maja says:

    :D :D :D

  26. White On Rice Couple says:

    We love, love roadtrips but have not been through NM yet. Only touched the corner at “four corners”. Now we gotta go there soon, and maybe swing by your place for these mamwiches?!!

    Dante (great name!!) is sooooo cute!! Oh, oh, oh, love, love, love, puppies. He’s so , so handsome! Look at that beautiful fur.

    *cough* just don’t tell our Dante that we said that!

  27. jenyu says:

    Rosa – it was a wonderful time, thanks!

    Judy – I know that feeling of being sick with the fires and hot winds :( Hope you get back home sometime soon!

    Mrs. E – not enough time! :(

    Joanne – hope so!!

    Mark – My aunt is TEH cool :) Don’t use A1 – not anything like it. You want to use something with Worcestershire sauce in it. Wow, I can’t believe you guys don’t have pink roast beef? That’s the only way I like it.

    Amy – hee hee!

    RobinSue – oh sister, you know what I’m talking about! :)

    Debbie – wave to my folks for me next time you’re in town!

    Margie – actually, I still don’t care much for ABQ. It’s northern NM that I prefer. Different terrain, different feel. The food is good all around the state though.

    Manisha – nope, no time. We were on a schedule and didn’t want to be late. The cat is SOOOO cute.

    Cindy – you should try to get out there someday. Beautiful place.

    Jennywenny – awww, so sweet :) I love kitties that behave like dogs.

    Andrea – oh man! what a crazy story! :)

    Melanie – oh my goodness, I blush to think of all the things we picked up from TJ’s. BTW, I *love* Bellingham. We almost moved there instead of where we are today! So TJ’s usually carries some different things from state to state. What I suggest is taking your time going through the store (with a cart) and sweeping anything that looks enticing into your basket :) Seriously though, I pick up the cheap 2 buck chucks (Charles Shaw) wines for cooking, and Jeremy loves the JoeJoe’s (like oreo cookies, but much healthier and tastier), nuts, dried fruits, breads, salsa, organic blood orange italian soda, coffee beans, cheeses, fruits, cured meats, dips, and the list really does go on. Oh, don’t forget to pick up chocolates (so many kinds!!) and over their freezer section they have a gazillion kinds of toffees, cookies, chocolate covered fruits, etc. Hope you have lots of space in your car ;)

    Nick – sounds great and thanks for dropping by!

    Cindi – wow! Such a small world :) Those are some great memories to carry with you. Glad that you could share it with your children too.

    Sophie – I’ve never tried it as a marinade… brilliant idea!

    Knitopia – I love their sandwiches. I could eat ANYTHING from the Cheese Shop :)

    Tokyoastrogirl – :)

    Steph – it will steer you right, baby!

    Mollie – It’s a she! Can you believe it? She is such a sweet and vocal girl too. She’s black and white, but before she starts each hike she must ROLL in the dirt to mask herself. Adorable.

    Lezel – I have not been to Michaels Kitchen, but I will put that on my next itinerary! Awesome that you tried to soup.

    Tartelette – ahhh, women after my own heart!

    Graeme – stayed together all the way down my gullet ;)

    Maja – :)

    WoRC – Are you kidding me? You guys gotta pack into the truck and come out here! Your Dante is a HANDSOME boy – the most HANDSOME boy ever. Tell him that :) xxoo

  28. Kevin says:

    Nice looking sandwich!

  29. jenyu says:

    Kevin – it’s good stuff, hon!

  30. Lisa says:

    love your site! we visited williamsburg last spring…so sad I had not made your acquaintance yet, so alas we didn’t go the the cheese shop. one question…I can’t find London House steak sauce; tried to google it with no luck. where do you purchase it. thanks for your wonderful recipes. happy thanksgiving!

  31. jenyu says:

    Lisa – I can’t find London House steak sauce either. Try Lea Perrins (has Worcestershire sauce in it) – it works well enough. Happy thanksgiving to you!

  32. Elina says:

    Ooh, I’m always on a lookout for yummy dressings. This one sounds like a winner! I’ve probably said it before, but your blog is AMAZING!!! Love it! :D

  33. jenyu says:

    Elina – thank you :)

  34. pictomo says:

    Wowser…that’s a doozie of a sandwich…can’t wait to track down the steak sauce. Is it possible that the steak sauce is called London Pub…it was on the shelf next to the British HP steak sauce…I am so stoked to make that sandwich! :O)

  35. jenyu says:

    Pictomo – I don’t think it’s called London Pub, but generally if you find a steak sauce that has Worcestershire in it, it should work alright.

  36. BethieofYork says:

    I live in here Yorktown and have been eating Cheese Shop sandwiches for years! I am a country ham, Havarti, extra house dressing on French. I found you web site because I was trying to find the dressing recipe. I had read it was a secret, but had my fingers crossed to find a duplicate. I am going to give yours a try.

  37. wing says:

    Sandwich looks like a fine thing to curl up with by the fire here in New Mexico (even though it is Albuquerque). Just came home from a trip to see family in Los Angeles and am happy to return to the landscape, all browns, greys and russsets. Red chile awaits!

  38. W&MGrad says:

    hi! I too found your blog while looking for a cheese shop house dressing recipe. I am going to try your recipe, but I did hear while i was in school at w&m that it is Kosciusko spicy mustard that is used. Don’t know if there is any truth to that, but you might want to give it a shot with that brand! Thanks for the great photos, too!

  39. jenyu says:

    Bethie – well, I hope it’s at least tasty!

    Wing – it’s quite good, hope you like it.

    W&M Grad – yeah, I don’t think what I have is quite it, but I’m willing to give other brands a try. Thanks for the tip!

  40. Jess says:

    I live in DC but my parents live in Suffolk so last time I was driving down to visit them I had to make a stop at the cheese shop to see what the fuss was about. Ohhhh maaaaah looord was that a good sandwich! Also they had this really fierce ginger beer that was spicy and delicious. I really liked the roast beef and munster but I think I like my husband’s provolone and proscuitto even better. Both were really good. That shop was so full we sat outside in the rain. Heh.

  41. Lori says:

    Whether its authentic or not- it sure looks delicious!

  42. Lori says:

    I made it today. I have never had the real thing before but to the mixture I added the juice of half of a lemon, a pinch of sugar and a few shakes of some garlic powder. I could just keep eating the stuff. Thank you- this is a delicious idea for sandwiches.

  43. Matt says:

    I used to work at the cheese shop. The recipe for house dressing calls for one part “house base” and nine parts mayo. As far as what’s in the house base, only owners know, and make it themselves. Mustard seeds, some stuff that would be in steak sauce, and a bunch of other random spices

  44. Ann says:

    When my daughter was growing up her best friend’s mother worked at the Cheese Shop in Williamsburg, and she would make it at home and give my daughter some all the time, but told her the recipe was a secret. She is 27 now and still goes to the Cheese shop and purchases it. IT IS GOOD. I hope this is as well, I will be trying it soon. I grow a lot of fresh herbs and I love putting fresh basil or oregano on my sandwiches. Plus I make my own crusty breads. I am really excited about making your sauce. Thanks a lot, Ann

  45. Chris says:

    I went to William and Mary and every student there loves the Cheese Shop! My go-to is the proscuitto and provolone (with house dressing of course). Sometimes when I go back down to visit friends I buy a big container and bring it back home. I’m definitely going to try this tonight!

    RobinSue- next time might I suggest you try Paul’s Deli or the Green Leafe? They have a reputation around town for better food and a less sketchy atmosphere. However I don’t know if they grill their blts :)

  46. PINKIE says:

    I am a Williamsburg native. I enjoy everything there is about The Cheese Shop & Fat Canary. Same location just side-by-side. This is a family business that is run to perfection. I am also a former employee of the The Cheese Shop. Upon my hire, I signed a legally binding form that I would never disclose the recipe ingredients. It is also out of respect that I never will. Definately one of the historic area attractions, located on Duke Of Gloucester St. in Merchants Square. The patio seating is the best view in Williamsburg. You can sit there all day if you choose. My girls and my mother try different cheeses with different wines, and the sandwiches, of course. My personal fave roast beef and swiss on wheat. For all you northerners, it is the only place south of the Mason Dixon that you can get, crusty on the outside soft on the inside, bread. Fall is coming, the leaves are changing. Come to Williamsburg!

  47. Recipe: Williamsburg Cheese Shop house dressing « Coffee rings & flying things says:

    […] Mix together.  Spread on sandwich.  Note: if you can’t find these brands, then a dijon mustard and steak sauce that contains Worcestershire sauce can be substituted.  Source. […]

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