The simple sandwich has been the snack of choice for centuries. Ever since that ravenous Earl of Sandwich ordered his valet to bring him a slice of meat encased between two slices of bread, ultimately leading to cries of “The same as Sandwich!” from his peers, the sandwich has become staple fare. From jam sarnies cut into triangles with the crusts cut off packed into our childhood lunchboxes, to meatball hoagies, smothered in marinara sauce, the humble sandwich takes many forms, but above them all, one reins supreme; the toastie, and one south coast couple are taking the street food scene by storm with their own take on it. These aren’t just any toasties however; these are Gourmet Grilled Cheese.
Arising after a 12-month adventure that saw Emma and Andy Farrow-Thomas eat their way across the globe, gobbling up everything from dim sum to dosas, The Gourmet Grilled Cheese Company has been a long time coming.
“We had been thinking about starting our own business for sometime,” Emma explained, “but we didn’t actually start up The Gourmet Grilled Cheese Company until the end of 2013.
“The main motivator for starting up the company came from a year long backpacking trip we took, starting in 2011,” she continued. “On our travels we experienced so many different and amazing street foods and we were totally inspired.”
Once back on home shores, the duo was set on starting a street food stall of their own. The only thing left to decide upon however, was what they would serve. After another trip, this time around the UK, the couple found their final piece of inspiration in the form of a sheepish Scottish delicacy.
“It all started with Haggis!” she proclaimed. “We were looking for food that we loved, but that wasn’t already being served up in the street food markets.
“We thought that Haggis, neaps and tatties could be the way to go,” she continued, but it only led them onto toasties.
With a bit of research into Haggis and even toying with the idea of making their own, the idea was shelved when they heard about Deeneys, a street food vendor serving up top-notch Haggis toasties in London.
“After enjoying one of their delicious toasties, we started thinking more and more about grilled cheese and found ourselves back at the drawing board rethinking our ideas.
“Haggis moved aside to make way for our range of grilled cheese sandwiches, with the emphasis firmly on using amazing British cheeses,” she proudly added.
From their Classic Gourmet, blending Lyburn Gold and Barbers 1883 Cheddar with spring onion, garlic and parsely, to their French Connection staring Lubborn Somerset Brie alongside pear, chopped walnuts and a caramelized red onion marmalade, their menu does just that, and it’s this focus on great British cheeses, that sets them apart from your bog standard toastie, popped in the George Foreman.
With the cheese the star of the show, you would be forgiven for forgetting about the bread, but you can’t have a toastie without the bread and for the New Forest based couple, it’s just a big a player as the cheese itself.
“We spent a lot of time finding the right bread for our sandwiches, but it was worth the effort,” Emma said. “Using quality artisan bread really makes a difference. It creates a delicious crush and has bags of flavour,” she added.
Take their Breakfast Toastie for example uses a beautiful artisan sourdough to encase the smoked streaky bacon, scrambled eggs, Lyburn Gold and Barbers cheese, tomato chutney and spinach; or their Orient Express with cumin, Indian spiced cauliflower, spinach, onion and chilli tomato chutney pillowed between a loosehanger.
It’s the couple’s passion, topped with some of the finest cheese in the country, enclosed between two slices of artisan bread, not to mention the truly gourmet sandwich fillers, that make this toastie company completely killer.