When the fourth Earl of Sandwich invented his eponymous snack a few hundred years ago, he probably never dreamed it would go on to have such iconic status.
Indeed, the Wall Street Journal once described the Earl’s sandwich invention as Britain’s “biggest contribution to gastronomy” and they’re probably quite right.
It would be safe to say the humble sandwich has come a long way since the 18thcentury – but there are still plenty of ways to turn it into the star of a menu.
Merely adding a slice of quality cheddar can elevate a sandwich from ho-hum to memorable. A generous wedge of Kapiti’s Pakari Smoked Cheddar, for example, can make a simple cold meat and salad sandwich sing.
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Or perhaps the approach may be even more delicate. Thin slices of Mainland Special Reserve Havarti, a smooth and subtle cheese, can act almost as a thicker, creamier butter on a sandwich, further enhancing the other ingredients.
A classic open sandwich can also benefit from a spread of creamy cheese. Perfect Italiano’s Ricotta raises the bar on sourdough, once it’s smashed together with creamy avocado and served with roasted tomatoes, for example. And Mainland’s Swiss Cheese matches perfectly with mustard, celery and walnuts to create a crunchier open sandwich.
But cheese really comes into its own when it’s used to create a gourmet grill. As a number of New York eateries will attest to, reputations can be made in a perfectly grilled toasted cheese sandwich. And the possibilities on what to layer between those slices of bread are many.
You can, of course, keep it simple, marrying flavours such as sweet and tangy pineapple alongside the slightly nutty flavour of Mainland’s Egmont cheddar-style cheese known for its excellent melt, or Perfect Italiano’s Mozzarella with its mild flavour and traditional stretch.
Kapiti’s multi-award-winning Tuteremoana Cheddar, with its sharp, zesty bite and firm, crumbly body also lends itself well to a variety of toasted sandwich options that are that little bit special.
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Or you can take the decadence up a further notch, combining Kapiti’s delicious Kowhai Gruyere-style cheese with dark chocolate. Diners will no doubt be planning their return visit as they sample a beautiful toasted sandwich oozing with two of the finer things in life.
But whichever way you slice it, the right cheese is capable of turning the modest sandwich into something truly spectacular to keep the lunchtime crowds coming back for more.