Quest for the BEST cheese on toast #1

8 Apr

Cheese on toast: Quintessentially English, a favourite of the nation… Why then, do we constantly make it so carelessly? Bunging together back-of-the-fridge ingredients to create a ‘meal’ that has had all satisfaction erased. I love cheese on toast (as a student, it’s a student staple), but I know that fulfillment comes with attention. This month, on the 27th, England will celebrate National Cheese on Toast Day and I think that this simple snack should be getting more of the respect it deserves.

So then, a quest to find what makes the best cheese on toast: Everyone has an opinion to contend with and there’s an infinite supply of bread and cheese combinations to ensure than inspiration cannot fall short. A hard task, but someone has to attempt it…

On a recent visit to Leicester, we found ourselves retracing well-worn steps to the Christopher James Deli who are celebrating their 30th year with the motto, “Do you eat to live, or live to eat?“. At the deli, we invested in some Italian salamis, a hunk of taleggio (a soft cow’s milk cheese from the Val Taleggio region in Italy), an ‘Italian Job’ salad box and a pot of Patum Peperium Angler’s Relish (a sister, in the form of smoked mackerel, to the fabulously pungent anchovy flavoured Gentleman’s Relish). We asked within the deli whether or not the taleggio would be suitable for cheese on toast and their answer (coupled with a wink) was that it would be ‘filthy’. Perfect.

The bread we chose was a spelt loaf from Paul’s Bakery – a little bit of an accident that we chanced across one of their stockists that day but so glad we did. Since taleggio has been around since the times of the Romans, we thought that the ancient spelt (or its more dainty name, which I prefer, the dinkel wheat) – being revived by health foodies for the first time since the Dark Ages – would be ideal. Spelt as a health food is being exploited; we spotted a weeny, and I mean weeny, loaf in Waitrose the other day for a painful £4. It doesn’t have to be expensive though – buying online from bakeries or (unsurprisingly!) making your own is far better.

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I don’t like overcooked food – steak, eggs, toast, whatever it is, don’t serve me char; I would far rather it be raw. So then, only a light grilling of the thinly sliced bread (it felt crisp to the touch but without colouring) before the other ingredients were added. On went the ribbons of torn salami and blobs of taleggio to fill in the gaps; taleggio is mild enough for cheese on toast but too much and it becomes heady – don’t use slices like you would a cheddar. Under the grill a second time and snatched out as soon as the taleggio had melted fully. Voilà!

The result was a far more wholesome experience than I had anticipated. The taleggio, known for its mild but tangy flavour, held up well against the robust umami of the spelt – so much so that a week has passed and my tastebuds are still craving a repeat performance of the first notch in the cheese-on-toast-test bedpost. On our plate, we added fresh anchovies for a bite of salt. Phenomenal!

One thing I feel obliged to add is that, beware! The smell of the taleggio grilling is potent… 

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Taleggio and spelt #1

Yours,

Joss. 

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4 Responses to “Quest for the BEST cheese on toast #1”

  1. Caroline April 8, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

    Wow! Excellent.

    • jossk1993 April 9, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

      Thank you! Any excuse to try lots and lots of cheese (:

  2. Mark kelly April 9, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    Violà! ??? I’ll leave it to you to work out…
    🙂

    • jossk1993 April 9, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

      😮 I don’t know what you’re talking about!

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