Toast. A simple thing of comfort and joy since childhood. My memories of occasions associated with toast are many and they are all allied with happy times.
Coming indoors the from the crisp winter cold after playing snowballs, and being met by my mother holding a plate of thick slices of toast, yellow butter running off the edges. Eaten ravenously and quickly devoured by laughing children, seemingly oblivious of their numb and throbbing red fingers.
The canteen at Barkingside Swimming Baths where, when I was very young after swimming sessions with my friends I always used to ask for a crust of toast. Somewhat bizarrely I used to think, the end slice was cheaper (if my foggy memory serves me well it was a very well spent 2p.) Not only was the end slice thicker, but it acted as a shallow bowl so the melted butter congregated in the middle, making it even more of a treat.
Thankfully, my mother never fell for the wolf in sheep’s clothing that was margarine and real butter was what I grew up with and is still the chosen thing to spread on my toast with an almost obscene thickness. The toast has to be fresh and hot so the butter melts as quickly as ice on a hotplate. Cold toast is perfectly fine for these cheese and fruit toppings as there is no butter involved, but personally I cannot contemplate eating a piece of cold toast with unmelted butter, it will get left on the plate and end up as a treat for the chickens.
Many years on and now maker of my own daily bread, toast is still my go to preference for a lunchtime snack but my taste in toppings has changed significantly and I am constantly trying new combinations to excite my palate. Avocado will always be at, or at least near, the top of the list, paired with shavings of good old Cheddar it will never fade in my affections, but these new combinations aren’t far behind.
The tartness of goat’s cheese to me has a natural affinity with the sweetness of fruit and these are some of my favourite combinations.
Apricots with a little fresh thyme, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with black pepper.
Pear with pecan nuts, again with a little fresh thyme and a drizzle of olive oil.
Mango and goat’s cheese with a few fresh spinach leaves.
I always use thyme with goat’s cheese as I like it, nothing more complicated than that. It also happens to be the herb that grows nearest to my door into the garden so maybe I’m just lazy.
If you have any other favourite fruity combinations you think I should know about, please let me know!