Cheese matters. All chefs will tell you they are only as good as their ingredients, and I always try to use the best I can afford.
I asked my friend and cheese expert Anthony Femia, from Maker & Monger at Prahran Market in Melbourne, for a few notes on each cheese to help you get the most out of your toasties.
The king of cloth-bound cheddars, this cheese has the perfect melting texture and exhibits rich beef broth flavours with grassy undernotes. You should always match this cheese with equally rich ingredients for the ultimate Sunday brunch toastie.
Ian Fowler makes his award-winning cheddar in a shipping container. Photo: Chris Crerar
Bay of Fires cloth-bound cheddar
Bay of Fires Cheese, Tasmania
A 13th-generation cheesemaker, Englishman Ian Fowlers draws on traditional methods used by his family to produce his cloth-bound cheddar at St Helens on the east coast of Tasmania. He makes and matures his cheddars in repurposed shipping containers.
There are two different types of asiago on the market. The young pressato is pliable, with soft notes of sweetness and acid, and has a great pH level for melting, resulting in a very stringy pull. The matured asiago is aged like a parmesan with deeper flavours and a denser texture.
Aged gouda has an incredibly rich and lingering caramel flavour with crunchy calcium crystals adding to the sensory delight of this cheese. Be careful though, as gouda separates during melting, with the fats and proteins splitting and causing a clear liquid residue that runs off the plate.
France and Switzerland
Emmental is one of the best melting cheeses and the main ingredient of delicious fondue. Its pH level gives it the perfect melting point, resulting in a molten liquid that is stringy and holds its shape at the same time.
A softer style of feta than its Greek counterpart, it has a slightly sweet and creamy flavour with a citrus tang.
An aged cow's milk blue cheese from the north of Italy with a slight crumbly texture and prominent blue spice on the palate. It has a low melting point due to its high moisture content, so don't overcook it.
Look for reggiano aged 18 months or less for an incredibly sweet and rich flavour. Reggiano will always slightly separate when melted, with the fats becoming a clear liquid. Reggiano always brings out the best in its paired ingredients.
Another of the staple melting cheeses, this alpine cheese melts to a perfect texture with incredible stringiness when pulled. Rich and nutty flavours abounding, this is perfect for your toasties.
Raclette cheese scraped over confit potatoes at Maker & Monger.
Australia, Switzerland and France
Make sure you use the rind of raclette when grilling, as this washed-rind, semi-hard cheese exhibits all its incredible flavours in its rind. Smelly, yet savoury, raclette has a beautiful melting texture and adds another dimension to your toasted cheese sandwich.
- Recipe: Raclette on potatoes with cornichons
Fontina Val d'Aosta
Val d'Aosta, Italy
Italy's answer to raclette, this washed-rind alpine cheese has an incredibly savoury flavour with a lingering sharpness. A perfect uniform melting texture gives way to a robust aroma and flavour when this cheese is grilled with its rind.
The most popular cheese in France and rightly so. Comte can be eaten any time of the day. It exhibits a beautiful floral aroma with distinct flavours reminiscent of cashew nuts and honey. This French gruyere is the benchmark for all melting cheeses with its perfect melting texture and flavour release.
An Italian washed-rind cheese that has a sweet milky flavour with underlying notes of yeast. It is best to cut the rind off this cheese as, when melted, it tends to lend an unwanted bitterness to the dish.
Australia and Italy
Mozzarella, with its silky texture and gentle sweet flavours, is the perfect cheese for a grilled cheese combination, where it lends an incredible stringiness and viscous texture without dominating flavours.
Burrata is a luxurious alternative to mozzarella. Photo: Edwina Pickles
Australia and Italy
Like a pimped-out mozzarella, burrata is a stretched-curd cheese with a filling of cream and mozzarella. It will increase the richness of your toastie with its unctuous interior and is best used in grilled cheese sandwiches that require minimal toasting, due to its high moisture content and quick melting.
This is an edited extract from Chefs Eat Toasties Too by Darren Purchese, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $29.99, available in stores nationally.