Melted cheese on toast has long been a staple comfort food of mine. I like it at breakfast time and late at night – it’s so much better than a kebab. So, given this love for soft gooey cheese, I’ve been wanting to try raclette for ages. Raclette, a semi-soft cheese from Switzerland, is traditionally heated by the fire or using a special stand and overhead grill. The soft melted top of the semi-circular cheese block is then scrapped onto a plate accompanied by firm potatoes, pickles, and possibly some cured meats. There are various thoughts on what to drink with it – ranging from tea (which is supposed to bring out the cheese flavour more) to beer or a light dry white wine.
When I found out my friend Nicole’s boyfriend owned a raclette grill, I got very excited. We’ve been trying for ages to find a night to use it and finally got it together last Friday. Nicole organised a quarter of a block of raclette, baby potatoes, figs, pickles, bread and cured meats – a collection of food that was way too much for four (although we did manage to eat it all). The mass of food was made slightly more sensible by the fact that only two of us could be heating the cheese at any one point in time, so eating took lots of time. We also chose to skip tea and went straight to beer and then an Austrian dry white wine, which filled the gaps between eating pretty well.
The home raclette grill is a slightly more low key affair than the larger traditional ones and involves a top grill plate for vegetables and meats, and two small cheese spatula things (I’m sure they have a real name but I have no idea what it is – they are essentially small spades with sides). You place the cheese wedges in spatula, slide under the top grill, wait for it to heat and bubble, and then slide the cheese onto your plate with the other bits and pieces. The most surprisingly good combination of the night was fig, grilled chorizo and cheese.
But… the biggest problem is that I don’t have any good photos- sorry – they were all a dark and blurry!! Instead, the main thing I have to show for my evening is a painful red raclette grill burn on my wrist, a product of my efforts to eat too much melted cheese too quickly.