Tuesday 20 May 2014

I want to talk about cheese rolls.

Cheese rolls are a regional food: you can only get them in the South Island: I'd never heard of them before a few years ago.

I knew we had to find cheese rolls and try them out.

They were elusive, but we tracked them down in the end (Jesse googled: cheese rolls te anau, and we dutifully headed to the Sandfly Cafe).

They looked pale and unappetising in the cabinet, but when they appeared on our plates, they looked delicious.

Inside, the cheese was molten and onion-y.

"Are you doing a cheese roll selfie?" asked Jesse, like he had just met me or something. 

How did they taste? The first bite was sublime. Hot cheese, crisp bread, sharp onion. After that, they tasted kind of sad. I guess regional food is poverty food by definition, even if it pretends it's not (I'm thinking of risotto. As fancy food, risotto is a collective delusion. It's a cup of rice, a spoonful of broth, a rind of cheese, and half an hour of woman's labour). Cheese rolls are slice of bread and a slice of cheese, and call it lunch. It tasted a little desperate (they cost $3 each). 

However! The rolled shape meant they were much easier to eat than a toasted sandwich and the cheese-to-bread ratio was closer to fondue than a sandwich. 

I found a recipe which looks pretty close to the ones we tried. 

Cheese Rolls

(The original recipe serves 36, so let's try it again with reasonable portions.)

  • 75g grated cheese
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
  • Reduced cream, enough to bind
  • 4 slices white bread
  • Butter or margarine

  1. Mix together the cheese and onion, and dollop in tablespoons of reduced cream until you have a thick, sticky mixture. Aim for the consistency of porridge.
  2. Spread mixture evenly over the bread. Roll the bread up tightly, and snap the crusts o it doesn't unroll. 
  3. Spread the outside of the bread with butter, and toast in a hot panini press until golden brown.
You could also substitute leftover kiwi onion dip for the reduced cream and onion, and suddenly this whole recipe makes sense. I had leftover dip once, in 2011, and it was quite confusing and upsetting that all the dip wasn't gone. It hasn't happened to me before or since, but I guess it's more common down South. 

Have you got a cheese roll recipe? Share it in the comments! 

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