Cheese Toastie Renaissance

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You don’t hear about cheese toasties much these days, do you? They’ve all been rebranded as paninis and grilled cheese sandwiches. So recently, when I was invited to take part in a cheese toastie-making competition by the Barber’s Cheddar maestros, it triggered all manner of culinary flashbacks. I used to love a toastie growing up and my older sister and I concocted some interesting variations on the cheese classic, most notably banana toasties (very sweet, certainly likely to burn your upper lip) and baked beans (does very pleasant and interesting things to the bread inside, trust me on this one).

However, it was to be Cheddar on the menu for this competition – but what to do with it? I’d been randomly pondering toastie combinations for a while (as you do) and came up with cheese, caramelised red onion chutney, smoked bacon lardons and watercress. I figured that the sweetness of the chutney would contrast well with the rich and sharp Barber’s 1833 Cheddar and the watercress would provide some crunch and pepper. And the lardons? Well, everyone loves a bit of bacon or ham in a cheese toastie (vegetarians excepted) but whole slices have a tendency to slide out of the melted cheese and weld themselves onto your chin like a thousand-degree beard. The lardons would provide little hits of hammy-bacon without injuring anyone.

So now all I had to do was make it. But this wasn’t a ‘make it in the privacy of your own home and put it on the blog’ sort of challenge. Oh no. I had to go head to head with seven other food bloggers in a live cookery demonstration at the Royal Bath and West Show. Hahahahaha.

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And so, in one of life’s stranger episodes, I found myself wearing a Britney Spears headset and explaining my toastie filling decision-making processes to a tent full of people who had wandered in from the sheep-shearing demonstration next door. There was a judging panel of six members of the public (one of the original jury members having being dismissed for ‘not liking cheese’) who held up scorecards. It was hot. It was tense. Look how tense we all are as the scores are announced.

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But guess what? I only won! I carried off a toastie-maker, quite a lot of Cheddar and a trip later in the year to go and visit the Barber’s farm and see how they make their cheese, which is all very exciting. So exciting that I didn’t actually take any photos on the day but I did recreate the prize-winning toastie for your delectation and delight.

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And now (I’m brandishing my toastie-maker Oscar-style here) I’d like to thank my family, the artisan cheese-makers of the nation and most of all you guys for supporting me on this amazing cheesy journey (collapses in a fit of emotional tears)…

So, will you join me in a cheese toastie renaissance? What would you put in yours?

Freebie disclaimer: Barber’s cheese-makers gave me a complimentary ticket to the Royal Bath and West Show, as well as providing the ingredients for me to make my toastie at the show.

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45 Comments

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45 responses to “Cheese Toastie Renaissance

  1. Congratulations on a well-earned victory. It looks delicious!

  2. Congrats! You are the Toastie Queen! You are bringing back (just like JT), the Toastie. The things we put in them in the 80s and early 90′s. I remember perfecting the art of the Egg Toastie (mighty delicious) and the Creamed Corn Toastie (my God, what was I thinking?). Your award winner sounds much more delicious. :)

  3. We have very different types of cheese in Macedonia but the English look more beautiful :)

    • Some of our cheeses are very ugly! What sort of cheeses are popular in Macedonia?

      • I don’t know their English names,but in Macedonia we have two very different types.In England you call them with the same name-cheese.But in Macedonia we call them with different names.Also the more rare types are mozzarella and edam cheese / edamer ! I will send you images on Twitter (message).

  4. I sent you the images of our cheeses on Twitter :)

  5. Woo hoo! Well done on your win! Loved the idea of your sister and yourself making toasties! My brother and I used to do the same… there was banana and chocolate (can you imagine how sweet that was)??? But our favourite was cheddar, sausage and branston pickle! :)

  6. Yay! Well done, congratulations, big round of applause. Your toastie sounds very fine indeed. I may have to go and unearth my toastie-maker and have a bash, you’re made me hungry.

  7. Wow! How fabulous!!! A toastie competition?? Toasties are very popular in this house ☺️☺️

    • What’s your household fave then? Getting some interesting combinations coming up in the comments!

      • It’s the good old cheddar cheese toastie I’m afraid. Although, I like them best with olive oil spread on the outside of the pieces of bread :)
        In the Middle East we used to make toasties on the barbecue with cheese and onion inside little round Arabic breads – yum!!

  8. I hate it that cheese toasties are called ‘grilled’ they are not grilled. I never heard of panini before though, have to look into that.

    AV

  9. Your cheese toastie does sound good, congratulations on your win.

  10. Well, congratulations… next stop Masterchef? Interesting to read that you liked banana toasties – have you tried banana and cheese? No really, it’s very good, and if you want you can save the idea for next year’s competition.

    • Haha, I would last ten minutes on Masterchef. I would drop something or they would work out that I can’t cook puddings. Banana and cheese? Now, I wouldn’t have thought of that!

  11. That’s a gorgeous looking prize winning toastie, I bet it tasted as good as it looks. We are big fans of toasties in our house – tuna and cheese is a particular favourite, sometimes gussied up with spring onions and herbs.

  12. I love a good toastie, it’s a weekend lunch fallback. Ham & cheese is classic but but lately cheese, piccalilly and pineapple is a winner. For dinner once I did bacon, egg, sliced leftover steak, cheese, pineapple and a number of condiments… more like a burger but was well worth the wait.

  13. 1) Banana toasties – they sound delicious!! Did you put chocolate in them too? And then salivate all over yourself as you waited for them to cool down enough to not remove the skin from the roof of your mouth.

    2) Bacon as a “thousand-degree beard” – Ha! Are you speaking from experience?

    3) I notice you didn’t point yourself out to us in the photo . . .?

    4) Who agrees to judge a cheese toastie competition when they don’t like cheese????

    5) My sister often has cheese and onion toasties with Heinz tomato soup to dunk them in for breakfast. Yeah, I know . . .

    6) CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!

    • 1) No, we didn’t put chocolate in but now I can’t think why – that sounds fabulous!
      2) Every toastie eater has experienced that moment when the ham slides out and flops onto your chin, causing irreparable damage!
      3) I should make you guess ;)
      4) My thoughts exactly…
      5) I can see that working; Heinz tomato is a classic.
      6) THANKS :)

  14. Congrats! This means lots more toasty ideas to come I hope :-)

  15. Wow! Congratulations on the winning AND the prize….that’ll be great! And maybe you could extend your VIP visit to include the Black Cow Vodka making dept…..? Very envious. Well done! :-)

    • Good idea, I’m sure they won’t notice if I suddenly disappear…how difficult can it be to find a distillery ;) It would obviously be for food-matching research purposes…

  16. Ahhhh well done! Red carpet appearances for you! We shall be your faithful groupies!

  17. Pingback: My Day Out with Barbers 1833 and the Ultimate Cheese Toastie » Verily Victoria Vocalises

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  19. Nic

    Well done on the win, lovely toastie for sure! And it was great to meet you.

  20. Well done, you! Your toastie sounds delish, and your logic is flawless. Personally, I have always made grilled cheese sandwiches, sometimes with thick slabs of ham, or piles of shaved ham. It’s the hubby who makes cheese on toast. With pickle (latterly, home made by me). :-)

  21. I’m a little behind on my blog reading so here is a belated CONGRATULATIONS!!! Yay for you, that’s so awesome that you won! Those are some beautiful flavours you put together, nicely done!

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