The humble toastie, aka a grilled cheese sandwich, will be celebrated in all its glory at The Harbour Bar Toastie Festival in Bray, County Wicklow.
Now in its second year, the Toastie Festival will showcase toasted sandwiches with an array of delicious fillings. We were lucky enough to get an exclusive look at the toasties before the festival kicks off, where we spoke to the festival organizer Aisling Byrne who talked us through what will be happening over the weekend.
Talking to us about the popularity of last year's festival, Aisling said:
"We couldn't get over the reaction the festival got last year. We thought, what can we do to create a bit of excitement in the area? It's such a simple idea but we thought we could throw a festival in honor of the humble toastie and around 4,000 people showed up!"
This year the festival promises to be bigger and better than before, with nine different toasties on offer, plus a drool-worthy dessert toastie and fries topped with traditional toastie fillings. There will also be a Toastie Tipples Bar onsite, serving up hot whiskeys, Irish coffees, and hot chocolates to warm you up while you enjoy your fare.
The Harbour Bar will also be going green for this year's festival. Even though all their packaging is compostable, they're taking the initiative a step further by offering free tea and coffee top-ups to those who bring their own teapots and mugs.
The bar is hoping to welcome around 5,000 toastie lovers this weekend to indulge their taste buds, so they have upped their offerings to accommodate for everyone. As well as three traditional toasties, there will be a host of unusual sambos on offer as well, including:
- The Big Cheese – smoked cheese, blue cheese, red cheddar and mozzarella
- Smoked chicken and pancetta with mozzarella, provolone and basil pesto
- Parma ham with scamorza cheese, tomato chutney, and caramelized red onion
- The PBJ – Crispy pancetta with strawberry chili jam, peanut butter, and The Harbour Bar house cheese blend
- Mac and Cheese toastie
- The Vegan Toastie – Grilled sweet potato and courgette with roasted red pepper, sundried tomato pesto, and vegan cheese
The dessert toastie combines chocolate hazelnut sauce, melted Flake bar and oozy marshmallows on a toasted brioche bread, so definitely one to try to get your hands on!
Having tried them all, we can safely say that you won't go wrong with any of the toasties on offer, but we especially love the PBJ – we're a sucker for peanut butter here at F&W!
Aisling told us that this year's festival is also aiming to get the community involved, by running the Golden Toastie competition:
"We encourage local businesses to put toasties on their menus for the weekend and join in on the fun. Two secret judges will rate the toasties on their cheese factor, their bread, their presentation, and their fillings. There’s a lovely community feel to it, which we’re hoping to escalate again this year and see the competition become bigger and better. I’m looking forward to seeing who’ll win the Golden Toaster trophy this year. Last year The Wild Goose took the title with their take on a Reuben, so I can't wait to see who gets involved this year."
To kick off the festival, the ever-popular Sing Along Social will be taking place in The Harbour Bar this Thursday night. Promising cheesy tunes, to match the cheesy toasties, this no-commitment choir is the perfect way to get into the festival spirit.
The festival promises to be an event for the whole family, with even dogs welcome down to The Harbour Bar to enjoy a toastie. The combination of delicious food, free tea top-ups, and warming beverages sounds good to us, so we will definitely be visiting this year's Toastie Festival for a bite this weekend!
The Harbour Bar Toastie Festival takes place this weekend November 2nd-4th 2018. More information about the festival can be found here.
* This article was originally published on our sister site FOOD&WINE.ie.