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The Cheese Stands Alone: Raclette! June 5, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Travel & Leisure, Vegetarian Recipes.

My dad traveled the world on business, visiting foreign ports of call with the predictability of clockwork ~ a combination of Swiss timepiece precision and the German ingenuity found in Cuckoo Clocks from the Black Forest.

Our favorite ~ his twice yearly trips to Geneva Switzerland.

Or, to be more precise, his returns from Switzerland ~ when, in with his luggage, would be fascinating Swiss Army Knives and boxes of miniature Swiss Chocolates for each of us.

Mmm . . .

Wikipedia ~ Switzerland, Cheese Fondue (in Public Domain)

Dad’s travels included opportunities for him to sample local cuisines throughout Asia, Europe, Australia, South America, Africa, and North America.  After his trips, my mother, an avid gourmet, re-created his favorite foreign dishes for us to try, with varying degrees of success:

* We enjoyed being introduced to Cheese Fondue ~ dipping and swirling chunks of hearty bread through melted Gruyère, Emmentaler, and Appenzeller cheeses infused with fragrant wine, Kirsch, garlic, and nutmeg.

* We loved the curries of India, the pastas of Italy, and the flavorful Mediterranean fare from Greece.

* We balked at smoked octopus, frog’s legs, escargot, and fish eyes (which  dad had gamely eaten, once, as guest of honor at a dinner in Korea).

Enough about our less palatable culinary adventures, and on to our  favorite Swiss dish . . . Raclette.

Like fondue, Raclette involves melted cheese.  There the similarity ends.

Instead of melting two or three cheese varietals into simmering wine, with guests swirling bread through the mixture, Raclette stands alone . . . almost.

3D-CowA block of Raclette (from the French racler ~ to scrape) is melted in front of a roaring fire and scraped onto individual serving plates.

Guests pass potatoes, gherkins, and pickled onions to partner with the melted Raclette while, fireside, the cheese continues to melt ~ indulging diners in second (and third) portions of gooey deliciousness.

Local peasants and cow herders figure in the history of this delectable dish:

Raclette was mentioned in medieval writings as a particularly nutritious meal consumed by peasants in mountainous Switzerland. It was then known in the German-speaking part of Switzerland as Bratchäs, or “roasted cheese.” Traditionally, the Swiss cow herders used to take the cheese with them when they were moving cows to or from the pastures up in the mountains. In the evenings around the campfire, they would place the cheese next to the fire and, when it had reached the perfect softness, scrape it on top of some bread.

Served inside, or under the stars, Raclette stands alone ~ a King among peasant cheeses!

Bon Appetit!

Related posts:  Bruschetta Yummy Hummus * A Trip To The Farmer’s MarketTen Ways to Fiber Up Your Diet * Bon Appetit! * Cry Baby!


1. Joanne - June 5, 2010

I LOVE cheese. I wonder how many other varieties of cheese can be used with this melting method…? I’m heading for my kitchen lab to experiment…!

nrhatch - June 5, 2010

We’ve tried it with several different cheeses ~ including appenzeller, gruyere, and emmantaler.

Most tasted good, but none compared to raclette. It’s just an amazing cheese ~ nutty and creamy and earthy and . . .

Raclette can be tricky to find ~ but I’ve seen it at Fresh Market and Whole Foods and a gourmet store in NJ called Delicious Orchards.

Let me know how your experiment goes.

2. Tammy McLeod - June 5, 2010

That is just the cheese! I am afraid that cheese is one of my weaknesses in life and I have visions of someone offering me this fireside where I consume until immobile. Great winter dish.

nrhatch - June 5, 2010

We generally had it in the winter months, even if we melted the cheese under the broiler in the oven because we didn’t want a fire.

Rounded out with fresh summer veggies (like broccoli or asparagus or zucchini), it would work in the summer ~ like mac and cheese, grilled cheese, lasagne, and pizza.

3. tsuchigari - June 5, 2010

Sounds scrumptious! The world without cheese would be a sad place indeed.

nrhatch - June 5, 2010

I agree. It’s why I’ve resisted becoming vegan. Today, at the expo, I bumped into a few vegans who told me about some wonderful soy cheeses in flavors like mozzarella and cheddar.

If I find any really good ones, I’ll let you know.

4. theonlycin - June 6, 2010

I’ve eaten it in a castle in Switzerland and am in love with it.
Tsuchigari, a world without cheese is too dreadful to contemplate.

nrhatch - June 6, 2010

I am thinking (something I do on occasion, but only if absolutely necessary) that I will substitute vegan cheeses for standard domestic cheeses like cheddar and monterey jack.

But, to reward my epicurian palate, I shall continue to enjoy imported cheeses (like raclette) to my heart’s content . . . even if my arteries don’t like it! : )

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