Peter Gilmore is known to be a man with strong feelings on the subject of cheese and toast. The recipe the chef shared with us for his pal Hugh Whitehouse's killer cheese on toast back in 2007 was a hit, and now comes news that the raw and cold offerings at Bennelong's Cured & Cultured Bar have been bolstered not only by suckling pig sausage rolls, but by a five-cheese toasted sandwich.
So what does an Opera House-worthy $22 cheese toastie look like? Those five cheeses are all Australian, with C2 cheddar and Heidi Gruyère in there for bite, ricotta and mozzarella for texture, and l'Artisan Mountain Man, a washed-rind cheese from Timboon, in Victoria, for pungency. Oh, and there's some black truffle thrown in, too.
"I chose the cheeses for their flavour but also for their meltability and hold," says Gilmore. "I wanted them all to be Australian, and I think the combination brings out the most in the scent of the Manjimup truffle."
Not content with that firepower alone, Gilmore and Bennelong chef-de-cuisine Rob Cockerill also decided to come up with the bread from scratch, opting for a brioche, but with a bit less butter and egg and a bit more salt than the classic recipe. "We also fold a little crème fraîche through it to give it a slight sourness."
We gave Bennelong's bar menu a bit of a serve in the review in the September issue of GT, wondering at the wisdom of "offering almost nothing hot and little that's substantial" in winter. But it looks like team Gilmore has things more than under control. Next step: home delivery.
We've now had the chance to go in and give the Bennelong toastie a try for ourselves, and, $88 dollars later, the verdict from our four-person tasting panel is … a unanimous thumbs-down. Things our team of GT staffers questioned included the appropriateness of brioche ("too crumbly," said one taster. "It just falls apart"), the flavour of the black truffle ("I'm not really getting anything from it," said another) and the curiously unsatisfying quality of the cheese mix ("surprisingly un-cheesy"). A bit more work in the kitchen might be needed before this toastie is worthy of its $22 price-tag. In the meantime, here are some tried and true toasted sandwich recipes from the GT archives.
Bennelong, Sydney Opera House, BennelongPoint, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9240 8000