When I was a kid, I just loved toast with butter. My Dad had a special way of making it. Although we had a "normal" electric toaster, Dad would pull out his old-fashioned, four slice toaster gizmo and place it over one of the gas burners of our cooker. There was something special about the taste and texture of toast made like that... more blackened spots here and there, more smokey tasting and although the bread was crunchy on the outside, the bread stayed moist inside.
When we Voyaged to Italy, we discovered an Italian kitchen tool that brought back memories of my father's special, stove-top toaster--the brustolina. Nothing more than a simply designed sheet metal device with holes on one side and a wire rack on the top side and a retractable wire handle to make storing in a kitchen drawer or on a shelf practical. You lay the brustolina on top of a burner on your stovetop with the wire grid on top and then place your bread for toasting. Flip the bread by had to toast the second side. Simple.
Brustolina, tostapane, and graticola are common names for this kitchen staple throughout Italy. Virtually every kitchen has one. The Venetian word brustolina is a derivative of brustolar, meaning toast or roast, and can also mean toasted pumpkin seeds. Tostapane is the Italian word for a bread toaster, and graticola is the word for a grill or grate. One brand name is La Gratella.
A brustolina has many uses: grilling slices of polenta, toasting thick slabs of Tuscan bread for bruschetta, roasting peppers, eggplant or zucchini, or heating up slices of pizza, focaccia or cornetto and other sweet breakfast rolls.
Here are some ideas...