Taste of Europe: Stevie Parle’s toasted sandwich

There are dishes that benefit from being done on the cheap, and toasties are one of them. I don’t want to get into too much sourdough chat
here because I’ll bore myself, and I’ll bore you. Sourdough bread has its place – fresh, warm, and with a farmy butter in a smartish restaurant, say –
but when it comes to toasties, sliced white is unbeatable.

Simply, it is a case of structural integrity: sourdough offers too crusty a crust and too chewy a crumb. toasties are supposed to be a thing of simple beauty and minimal effort.

Still incredulous? I think the cheaper bread lets the cheese do the talking. I could call the bread “mere vehicle” but that would be rudimentary. It’s more about the floppy and welcoming nature of sliced white; the fact it bows to the dairy, like a greeting their herd of grazing cows, but is supportive enough to hold fast as the melting commences and the fat begins to bronze the starch.

In the winter months, I’ve been keeping the fillings basic, too. This is because I myself am basic. Cheddar, gruyère if I have it, lashings of mustard and maybe some thinly sliced cornichons. That’s it – a generous slathering of mayonnaise on the outside of the bread ( Toastie, if you must know) and it’s time to compress. The might be tired, but so am I. I should like four oozy triangles of melty daintiness and do not think for one moment that I won’t dip each one in ketchup.

While I maintain the bread must be tame, the fillings don’t need to be. It’s really a case of mood. Sometimes, bring the ’nduja, the posher cheeses, the sweet additions. This is what’s about to happen.

owns Pastaio, a hugely accessible restaurant in Soho, ,
where bowls of freshly made pasta start at £8 a pop, and glasses of wine might cost only a fiver. I recommend going if you haven’t already.

Here, Parle has combined soft ’nduja with mozzarella, and brings honey into the…


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