Continuing from my last article on Alpine cheese, this article is about Raclette, which probably the most glorious cultural food gem of the Alpine Cheese family. It is the meltiest of all cheeses. What is so special is that it is meant to be enjoyed together with friends and family. That is what is food should be about and that is what a gathering is for!
So what is Raclette? It literally means – to scrape, from the French verb “racler”, because of the way the melted cheese is scraped off the cut wheel. Simply put, it is actually a melted cheese dish. Originally, it is probably the staple food of mountain farmers, dairy people and cheese makers while they took care of the cows, milking and cheese making in the Valais Region of Alps. It is absolutely a satisfying winter meal.
The first Raclette possibly happened when someone left a wheel of cheese too close to the fire and the surface of the cheese started to melt. From that point, someone just needs to scrape it onto a plate – there you go, you’ve got Raclette. I just love what Molly McDonough summed up in the latest Culture Cheese Magazine. She said: “In early account, a 16th century pharmacist in the capital city of Sion detailed his idea of a good time: We melt in front of the fire cheeses that are fatty, sweet, and tender,” she wrote. “And it is so good, that we cannot be satisfied.” Further McDonough concluded, “ a single melted morsel of it is never enough”
High quality milk, balance of fat, protein, and moisture are very important to the cheese to ooze elegantly and correctly without fat separation. When it melts, alongside the unctuous delectable flow, you are expecting flavor explosion: nutty, meaty, slightly fruity, and pungency of the rind. Traditionally, the accompaniments are simple: boiled potatoes, cornichons (tiny pickled gherkins), and pickled onions.
This February 24, Reverie Creamery is hosting its first Raclette Party with our own interpretation. Our Chef, Marlene Lucas, who brought us double prize winners: Local Food Cook-Off and People’s Choice Awards at Panama Rocks’ Wild America Nature Festival 2017, will be making creative dishes for Reverie’s first Raclette Party and possibly for the area. We will present this tradition in our own special way by collaborating with Bag & Sting Wine Merchants to pair the perfect wine for each of the 4 courses wine-pairing dinner centered on Raclette. We hope you can join us to experience this event at the communal tables of the Gallery at Reverie Creamery, our banquet room– adjacent to our Cheese Shop.
This article is also published at The Lakeside Ledger February 8, 2018.
I would like to add: There is nothing more surprisingly amusing than hearing “I read your article last week, and I want to try and taste that particular cheese”. Wow! Thank you for reading. And my gratitude goes to The Lakeside Ledger Publisher, Jeanine Zimmer Carlson, to encourage me to write. Somehow I did not expect there is an audience that reads this column every time it is published.