Does the tastiest toastie have a variety of cheese in it? Photo: Dana Ward

Where’s the best toastie?

A cheese toastie – a dish I thought you couldn’t mess up. Oh boy, was I wrong.

We went to a local pub a few weeks ago and said we’d get a quick toastie. I prefer mine with just cheese and onions (no ham or tomato). A simple enough request I thought but I still have no idea what I actually ate.

The bread was of the cheap value brand variety and so thin that I still think it was cardboard rather than bread (especially as it tasted like I imagine cardboard would taste) and I don’t want to accuse the chef, but I believe singles were used rather than cheese.

The best thing in the entire dish (and that included chips) were actually the onions. I still shudder from the experience.

Now, Johnny’s at the Blarney Castle Hotel do a lovely one with tasty cheese and generous filling and it’s served with a nice tomato chutney.

But nothing comes even close to the best (in my opinion) cheese toastie I had the pleasure to enjoy when Idaho was open.

Mairead Jacobs who reigned over the kitchen created what can only be described as the king (even emperor) of all cheese toasties.

What is the difference you might ask? It’s the quality of the ingredients of course and the care the chef takes to create the ultimate cheese toastie.

Mairead used Arbutus bread and a mix of mozzarella, vintage cheddar and a bit of Cashel Blue. It was the delicate balance of the cheeses that made this dish so rememberable as the cheeses just hugged each other without punching above their weight.

You needed both hands to hold the toastie but gosh it was a beauty and I still have withdrawal symptoms now that Idaho has closed its doors.

When I asked Mairead about her famous toastie, she recommended Clarenbridge Garden Centre. She went as far saying she would give it a 10. Big praise indeed and I have yet to try it and in case you’d like to give it a try, Clarenbridge is in Kinsalebeg, Co. Waterford. Looking at some of the photos, this café seems to be worth the trip.

After the short exchange with Mairead and knowing her and her cooking style, it became clear that the quality of ingredients is important but what is more important is the knowledge how to put things together.

The balance of the cheeses in her sandwich just worked so well together that the final dish left you wanting more (but due to an overfull belly, that wasn’t an option) and I told so many people about it.

It is such a long time (about 18 months if not longer) but I still remember it and still use it as an example when I talk about cheese toasties.

If you want to make a tasty one at home, it is quite easy when you have ingredients like vintage cheddar and good ham (I don’t mean one of the plastic tasting ones).

You don’t need a sandwich toasting gadget as you can just create a grilled cheese sandwich in your frying pan.

And trust me, it’s a tummy hug if you ever try it.