I had arranged to meet Mr Jonathan Brown of Around Britain With A Paunch at St Paul's Cathedral in the afternoon and was running quite late. Once my fellow colleagues finally sauntered back from their lunches, I made a mad dash from the office in the pouring rain, getting thoroughly soaked in the process. When I finally clambered up the slippery steps to the entrance, I found a very dapper and dry Browners standing there grinning from ear to ear with a box under his arm. A box that from it's outside appearance would have originally contained an iron.
"Hi Danny, here's your supper!" he said, still beaming, manically even. I expressed my thanks and then excitedly flipped open the box to inspect it's contents.
The box did in fact contain an iron. I looked up at Jonathan and then back at the iron and then back at Jonathan who by now resembled the proverbial Cheshire Cat. I just looked confused.
Sensing my befuddlement, Jonathan went on to explain "well seeing as you're a fan of Stefan Gates and his gastronaught style of cooking, I thought you could have some fun making a cheese toastie. There's a sandwich in the box wrapped in foil with some pretty good Montgomery Cheddar".
And that's when the penny dropped, my mission was to use the iron as an alternative to the Breville Toaster. Excellent. I should have known better really that the sandwichist would have come up with something like this though. He had also supplied a jar of apple and apricot chutney and a jar of chilli and crab apple jelly, both homemade along with some plums and pears from his garden. For the exchange I took him over to Apostrophe for lunch (where else could it have been really) and caught a quick half hour chatting about the merits of blogging and 'freebies'.
After bidding Mr Brown farewell, I got back to the office, placed the box under my desk and got on with the rest of the day. Yet as evening approached, it was soon time again to start thinking about getting the iron out to cook my toastie and at this point I did start to have some worries. In the end I decided that I would try the experiment at home, partly because I am trying to keep this project under wraps at work and partly because I didn't want my work mates to think I'd gone completely hatstand.
So did it work? Well Jonathan had slathered a fair amount of butter on both sides of the bread as you normally would when making a cheese toastie for a Breville. But I don't think he factored in that I would be making my first attempt at grilling with the iron turned up to full blast. This had near disastrous consequences. As I placed the Hinari Toasty Special down on the bread, there was an immediate loud pop and hiss which just didn't sound right. So I picked the iron up again only to find the sandwich stuck steadfast to the element. My natural reaction was to try and peel the damn thing off and naturally I burned my fingers. So after much profanity and waving of hand in the air, I grabbed a fish slice and managed to wrestle the bread away from the plate. Luckily it wasn't burnt. Much. I then figured that more butter was in order and that the heat should be turned down. I tentatively placed the iron back down and then waited for about a minute. I then picked it up and all looked well, the bread was starting to brown ever so slightly. And so I carried on this process for about 15 minutes, flipping the sandwich over to do the other side and over again and over again. Never before have I paid such attention to 2 slices of bread. In fact, it was quite laborious really. But once I decided that this toastie had reached its zenith, I cut it in two and placed it on a plate and the cheese oozed satisfyingly out. And yes it tasted good, the cheese was indeed nice and mature but unfortunately, my throbbing fingers detracted my attention somewhat. Luckily I had bought a fine bottle of red to raise a glass to Mr Floyd so wasn't in pain for too long.
I will definitely give the Hinari Toasty Special another crack in the future, it just needs some fine tuning methinks. Thanks Jonathan for introducing the 'iron-method' and for the other goodies. Your chutney by the way really hits the spot. Cheers!
Introducing the All New Hinari Toastie Special