you’re looking at what i feel quite comfortable saying is one of the best sandwiches on the planet. behold the toasted cheese sandwich from kappacasein, a small stall with a big reputation in london’s famous borough market. regard the oozy, gooey mix of montgomery cheddar, keen’s cheddar, and ogleshield cheeses that i kind of want to rub all over my face, or perhaps bathe in, if that weren’t socially unacceptable. feast your eyes on the impeccably browned poilane sourdough bread and note the subtle purple and green glints, hinting at powerful flavors, of five types of onions. these nine ingredients, assembled in a short stack and quickly toasted in a hot press, form a warm and crunchy slab of toasted cheese perfection. OH MY GOD SO GOOD. truly, this is a crowning achievement in sandwiches.
i had been told by three separate trustworthy food sources – my friend dave, my coworker sasha, and ann the food tour lady – that i absolutely HAD to have this sandwich. luckily i am a good listener when it comes to food recommendations, so my friend michelle and i made it our first stop post-food tour. drooling unattractively, we watched our sandwiches get grilled on the spot with a handful of red and white onions, shallots, garlic, and leeks, and we wandered over to a beautiful cathedral nearby to chow down. you can see the pressing process here.
below, you can see one of the magicians behind the supremely cheesey excellence. as you can see by the framed newspaper clippings, people have lots of good things to say about these sandwiches. gourmet editor ruth reichl called it ‘the platonic ideal of a cheese sandwich,’ which i certainly won’t argue with.
michelle and i were soon joined by eamon, my newest london friend/appreciative eating companion. the two of them may not be gourmet editors (their observations were a little too…risque for that particular publication), but they also had entertaining things to say about the sandwiches. here are photos of them and the famed sandwiches, plus some choice quotes about the sublime nature of these toasted beauties.
quote #1: holy f*cking sh*t, this sandwich is f*cking amazing.
quote #2: wow. this sandwich is better than some sex i’ve had.
i’ll let you guess who said which one.
incredibly enough, kappacasein is no one-trick pony with the cheese offerings. they also make this crazy awesome dish called raclette (from the french word for scrape), a traditionally swiss dish of hot cheese scraped on to a plate of potatoes, pickled onions, and gherkins (mini pickles). it’s a serious hot mess in the best possible sense of the phrase.
kappacasein has these cool swiveling contraptions that rotate bubbling rounds of ogleshield to trade places under the heating implement. the ogleshield, a semi-hard washed rind cheese made from raw jersey milk in somerset, england, then gets scraped in a gushing waterfall of tastiness on to the plate.
in this photo, you can see the extremely nice professional scraper, jennifer, hard at work. on the right is the cheese bubbler, which i fully realize would be an unnecessary addition to my arsenal of kitchen products, but i kind of want one anyway.
however, i don’t think you can really understand how exciting this dish is until you’ve watched a cheese scraping yourself. either you can jet off for a weekend of skiing in switzerland, or you can watch this video i made! woohoo! my apologies in advance for the nausea and neck pain-inducing camera tilt, as well as the awkward audio accompaniment. despite the fact that i regularly instruct people on how to make creative short videos on a professional basis, my own video skills could use some Go Game sound effects and a live MC to really impress. i’ll just warn you now to start with a head tilt to the left, although it’ll all be worth it when you get a full frontal view of a hot cheese avalanche (if that phrase isn’t in the urban dictionary yet, it definitely should be).