Toasties with the Mosties

Australia’s ubiq­ui­tous go-to meal, the toasted sand­wich, has un­der­gone a gourmet evo­lu­tion, writes Penny Wat­son.

Where Melbourne - - Contents -

THE HUM­BLE HAM, cheese and tomato toastie—or jaf­fle—is as es­sen­tial to Aus­tralian cui­sine as Vegemite. It’s your go-to for a cheap, por­ta­ble meal that some­how passes for break­fast, lunch or din­ner. It’s high on flavour with­out be­ing deep-fried and it’s a café-style meal that man­ages to cover four of the five ba­sic food groups. Tick. Tick. Tick. But like all foods in the cui­sine cap­i­tal, there are al­ways new takes on old recipes. Get a taste for the new-age toastie at these Mel­bourne venues.

MAKER & MONGER

In the heart of Mel­bourne foodie mecca, Prahran Mar­ket, Maker & Monger (Stall 25, lo­cated in­side the Har­vest Hall, Prahran Mar­ket, 163–165 Com­mer­cial Road, South Yarra; makerand­mon­ger.com.au) cheese bar does a pi­quant trade dish­ing out allth­ings-cheesy. Ded­i­cated cheese­mon­ger An­thony Femia’s cutesy re­stored French food cart sells cold cheeses, but it’s the hot, melty, gooey dishes that get pun­ters in. Femia’s ‘grillz’ are toasties made from sour­dough bread and crisped to per­fec­tion with cul­tured but­ter. Favourites in­clude an ‘All Amer­i­can’ made with two ched­dar va­ri­eties min­gling with onions and pars­ley, and the South­ern tweaked ‘Pi­men­ton and Cayenne’, made with a pi­mento cheese mix that oozes red pep­pers and pick­les. The Grand Dairy Award-win­ning ‘Fon­due’, made from Heidi gruyere and Bulla crème fraiche, is in­spired by the retro Euro­pean hot cheese dish. Tra­di­tion­al­ists should sink their teeth into a ‘Ra­clette’ where per­fectly fried bread com­bines with the still-bub­bling Swiss cheese.

BAD FRANKIE

Just off Smith Street, Bad Frankie (141 Greeves Street, Fitzroy; bad­frankie.com) looks like a classic Euro wine bar, but the ‘jaf­fles and lo­cal spir­its’ sign swing­ing out front tells an Aus­tralian tale. The bar is named af­ter in­fa­mous Van Diemen’s Land gover­nor, John Franklin, who out­lawed small pot stills in the early 19th cen­tury. Riff­ing off this his­tor­i­cal hic­cup, Bad Frankie show­cases small-batch Aus­tralian gins and whiskeys and com­ple­ments them with an Aussie jaf­fle menu. For the unini­ti­ated, a jaf­fle is a 1950s-in­vented iron toastie maker that presses the crusts to­gether to con­tain the fill­ing. The ‘Classic’ jaf­fle at Bad Frankie is a vin­tage ched­dar and moz­zarella with vegemite or chut­ney on the side and ham off the bone as an ex­tra. ‘The Sh­room’ is a heav­enly mix of gar­lic, red, wine and thyme with mush­rooms, spinach, fetta and melty moz­zarella on whole­meal bread. There’s even dessert—a lam­ing­ton jaf­fle filled with choc-soaked sponge cake, jam and co­conut.

TOASTA & CO

Proof that Mel­bourne is ready for a ded­i­cated toastie venue is Toasta & Co (181 Ad­der­ley Street, West Mel­bourne; toas­taandco.com.au), a café on a cor­ner lo­cale in leafy West Mel­bourne. Toasta was evan­gel­i­cal in its pur­suit of the per­fect ‘toasta’, spread­ing the melty good­ness via their food trucks. Now, their pas­sion has evolved into a bricks and mor­tar venue. Their toas­tas are made with Zeally Bay or­ganic sour­dough and that golden crunch is thanks to a deca­dent mix of but­ter and duck fat. The savoury menu kicks off with a sig­na­ture three-cheese blend and pick­les, and gets in­creas­ingly gourmet. There’s an ooey gooey mac-and-very-cheesy with caramelised onion; a cheesy béchamel, shaved ham, spring onion and gruyere ‘Croque Mon­sieur’; and a ‘Tif­fany’ with brie, wal­nuts, truf­fle oil, rocket and streaky ba­con. Guests are in­vited to “treat yo’self” by adding a chicken or egg­plant schnitzel to any toasta. Don’t mind if I do.

Hot Jam Donut Jaf­fle from Bad Frankie. The ‘Hannah’ from Toasta & Co. Photo: Guy Evans Photography.

The ‘Fon­due’ from Maker & Monger.

Photos: Jeff Busby.

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