New Zealand Food Exploration: Cheese Rolls

If there was ever a time to take the Lord’s name in vain, it would be to express my love of cheese.

Mostly deprived of it in Thailand due to the high prices of imports, when we hit the shores of New Zealand I spent many a happy meal enjoying cheese in its various forms once more.

Before arriving on the South Island, some online research had indicated to me the existence of something called cheese rolls. This is not a bread bun with some cheese in it, but instead a rolled slice of bread containing cheese and allegedly onion or more, and then toasted. Admittedly that doesn’t sound hugely exciting, but mentions of powdered onion soup and evaporated milk as potential ingredients piqued my interest and I was determined to give it a try.

cheese roll

As they seemed to be specific to the Otago region, I tracked down a place in Dunedin that claimed to have served the best cheese rolls since 1955. The Little Hut Café is a basement establishment on George Street, and we duly stopped in close to closing time to sample this, along with another treat I shall be writing about in another post (Denheath Custard Squares).

When the roll arrived, it did not look that appetising. A hearty slick of butter atop a somewhat pallid folded piece of toast. I tucked in.

It tasted of…a toasted cheese sandwich. I couldn’t detect any hint of onion, and while it was fine, it was a big disappointment in a more general sense.

As our trip continued, I kept an eagle-eye out for other cheese rolls. The closest I came was a non-toasted seafood roll in a town called Gore, which was quite a pleasant sandwichette of pineappley cream cheese and bits of prawn and crabstick.

Perhaps one day I will return, when every café has a web presence and I can scour them in an instant to find the top ten cheese roll providers and write a new post. Until then, this will have to suffice.


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