Cheese. As addictive as heroin. No, seriously, science says so. Casein – a dairy protein concentrated in the cheesemaking process – triggers the same receptors in the brain linked to addiction. And it’s not just at Christmas. Maltby Street’s The Cheese Truck sold twenty tons of the stuff in their first two years of trading. And are about to open their second bar in Camden, following their other one – Archie’s – in Deptford.
Clearly, our addictions are keeping these guys afloat. So what about something in return? Aside from their irresistible cheese toasties, of course. Maybe some advice on how to harness the ineffable world of toast and cheese, so we can enjoy molten goodness the right way at home?
‘Use the best cheese you can afford,’ says Matthew, founder of The Cheese Truck. ‘That’s British, of course! Don’t skimp on the filling – the more cheese the better – then cook it slowly on a low heat. You want the cheese to melt at the same time the outside goes golden.’
Fortunately for The Cheese Truck, there’s a handful of experienced cheesemakers just down the road at Spa Teminus. For other traders, like Top Knot Toasites (who’re supplied sourdough bread by the estimable Hobbs House Bakery) and The Cheesy Toast Shack (who do their rounds in Scotland), locality’s of the highest priority when attempting the perfect toastie.
‘The way we see it is, the Italians have their pizza, the French have their croque monsieur, and us Brits have our cheese toasties,’ says Cheesy Toast Shack. ‘We love using cheddar from our local farm, St Andrews Farmhouse. This cheese has been matured for months on end, and therefore obtains such a sharp taste. You can really taste the difference between this and your supermarket cheeses.’
Even when rigorous sourcing’s been accounted for, a good cheese toastie is a simple thing. Just ask Jabberwocky. And Grill My Cheese, who regularly keep Leather Lane Market cheesier than a Peter Andre tune. ‘Butter on the outside of the bread – always. Use a dry frying pan on medium heat, and weigh down your sandwich with a spatula to make sure you get an even melt. Using the best quality ingredients, you can really make it your own.’