Today was the Barnes Food Fair, on the Barnes Green, in South West London. I am well aware that I say this often but I love my village. I just couldn't help myself, I had to go. The sun came out, the sky was blue and well I was hungry.
Before I walked in I loved the fact that there was a dog creche with a tent and water bowls and toys. What more could the canines in our lives ask for? Maybe a bone or a little tidbit. There were stalls aplenty: Champagne, Oysters, Reindeer Sausages, Duck Wraps, Middle Eastern and the obligatory Pimms tent. Honestly so much good looking food and that was just outside the main tent. When I arrived the Castelnau Chorale were performing. Lovely ladies with a well chosen selection of songs. I wasn't there for the music.
The main tent was choc-a-block with food stalls. Chutneys, jellies, jams, charcuterie, baked goods, vegetables, cheese. Oh my the cheese! My vegetable suppliers, Riverford, were there and it was so nice to meet Simone my veg lady after 3 years. The Barnes Book Shop was also in attendance with a large number of recipe books. I had to hold myself back otherwise I may just have come home with a library. I did however come home with Stanley Tucci's, Tucci Table, as a inhabitant of Barnes it would have been rude not support our local talent. I even got a signed copy! What makes you think I am mildly excited? The air was perfumed with all the spices and people were really excited about the produce. I really had to limit myself, so honestly didn't buy much. That's what she says. I walked away with 2 loaves of bread, scotch bonnet chilli jam, Meule du Jura cheese, 2 silicone baking mats and a silicone pastry mat for rolling all manner of pastry and bread dough out without messing flour everywhere.
As lunch was fast approaching I headed out to go get some additions to our bounty for the table. La Tartiflette was selling the most gorgeous looking potato dish, a tartiflette. The meat version was sauteed potatoes with lardons, cream, white wine, garlic, black pepper and Reblechon cheese. The vegetarian version was obviously without the lardons but drizzled with truffle oil both served with cornichons. My idea of heaven. I then treated myself to a little glass of Tribaut Cuvée Reserve and a local oyster from Rossmore Oysters. Delicious! Kyle was less than impressed when I texted him, he was on his bicycle doing a few laps of Richmond Park. He certainly missed out.
There were a few more things I needed to get so I headed off to the Farmers Market across the road. I Walked away with some lovely fresh organic salad leaves and a delicious red pesto. The butcher and I at J Seal in the village had some banter over an organic free range chicken and some venison steaks and I was off.
Needless to say lunch was delicious but it is dinner that I am writing about tonight. The classic cheese toasty, just not your normal cheese toasty. A gourmet toasted sarnie of "epic-ness" as Kyle likes to say. Does anyone else get as excited abut food as we do?
2 Medium thick slices of bread, I used a sun dried tomato bread from the fair today
2 tsp Roasted red pepper pesto, from the Barnes farmer's market
2 good handfuls of grated cheese. I used grated Meule du Jura, Parmesan and and aged French Comte. The Meule du Jura was from Leigh Doy Cheese and the other two from Waitrose. You can use any cheese that you like, I would recommend a mature Cheddar or any strong, hard cheese that melts well.
Soft butter for spreading
A handful of salad leaves dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper
Spread the pesto on one of the slices of the bread and top with the grated cheese. Top with the second slice of bread and lather with butter. Make sure you butter the bread as close to the edge as possible and make sure you use plenty. This will ensure a crisp, golden brown finish when you toast it. Place the sandwich, butter side down, in a non stick frying pan that has been heated over a medium heat until not quite smoking hot.
Butter the side facing up, again spreading the butter to the very edges. After 3 minutes flip the sandwich then flip again after 3 minutes. You don't want to leave it on one side for too long otherwise you'll burn the bread. Then flip again every minute until the melted cheese is oozing out of the side. If the bread is toasting too quickly spread some more butter on each side and turn the heat under the pan down.
To serve, cut in half and plate up with your dressed salad. Serve while hot. I guarantee you'll want another one, but be warned it is rich and savoury and oh so good.
Good food is very often, even most often, simple food. - Anthony Bourdain