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Who’s Coming to Our Next Raclette Party?

Sat, Mar 17, 2012

Posted in:  entertaining

Raclette grill in use

Our new Raclette grill in use

Many of our most memorable travel experiences revolve around food and there are many I’ll never forget from our first skiing holiday in Switzerland a few years back.

One was the black truffle pizza that we had on the slopes of St. Moritz. I don’t know if I would order this decadent dish on an average day in Dubai but it seemed appropriate after a long day of snowboarding and skiing.

And by long day, I mean about one hour before we called it quits and started feasting and wining, necessitating taking the tram downhill instead of drunk snowboarding.

Pizza at Corvilliga, Sils Maria, St. Moritz

Black Truffle Pizza at Corvilliga, St. Moritz (2008)

Second was my introduction to a quintessential meal of the Swiss Alps: Raclette. That day, my life was forever changed. I would constantly dream about one day having my very own Raclette grill.

I had never heard of Raclette before that fateful day when our good friend and host of our Swiss Alps adventures, and who Scotch likes to call Mr. Burly Man, suggested we do Raclette for dinner.

When he saw the look of complete ignorance on my face, he instantly rubbed his palms together and at the same time belted out one of those hearty conspiring laughs that basically translates to, “I’m so overly excited to be introducing you to one of the best freaking things on Earth!”

So Mr. Burly Man took us shopping in preparation for the inaugural Raclette experience. Can you tell by our shopping cart that we were two Dubai expats on the loose in cheese, pork and wine country?

Swiss shopping cart

By the way, Epoisses cheese is easier to find these days in Dubai but not so back in 2008. When we brought that round wooden container of cheese back to Mr. Burly Man’s home, his mom had us put it on lock-down within not one, but two, plastic containers to contain the smell as it is quite a pungent cheese – or as Scotch would say in Scottish, “foosty!”

And here was my inaugural Raclette experience on a cold winter’s night in Switzerland. I absolutely loved the social aspect of this method of dining – melting individual pans of cheese around a table grill to be poured on top of bacon, salami, ham, pork sausages, pickles and for a non-potato lover, I even enjoyed eating it with potatoes!

Well-Used Raclette Grill

Well-Used Raclette Grill

I guess this is where I should explain what Raclette is to those who have never heard of it before. The term Raclette can refer to a semi-soft cow’s cheese or the actual Swiss meal of melted Raclette cheese served with traditional accompaniments of boiled baby potatoes, cornichons (small pickles), and pickled onions. It comes from the French word racler, which means “to scrape”.

You can read more about the history here:

In the Swiss tradition raclette cheese is melted over an open fire and melted slowly. As the cheese melts it is scraped off the wheel and served with boiled potatoes, bread, cornishons (pickles) and other pickled vegetables.

Today you can purchase raclette machines that have an arm with a heating element that points down on the cheese and melts it or raclette grills have become very popular.

We prefer the modern day grill over the traditional one (where a chunk of cheese is melted on a stand) because each dinner guest can have their own little pan to customize their Raclette. And customize we do!

In addition to the traditional accompaniments, Mr. Burly Man’s family introduced this meal to us with bacon, sausages, plus other charcuterie, and that’s how we prefer it ’til this day.

My first Swiss Raclette (2008)

My first Swiss Raclette (2008)

Last month, Scotch’s sister and brother-in-law surprised us with this raclette grill from Spring and made my Raclette dream come true.

Our little grill is designed for a cozy dinner party for two (but we stretched it to four!) and I love that we can go bigger by combining additional units.

Living Box Store Website

Raclette Grills (photo credit: livingbox.co.uk)

Along with the grill, they also brought over Raclette cheese from three different producers in Valais canton of Switzerland (Val de Bagnes, Turtmann, and Orsi̬res) Рwhere Raclette originated.

I tasted them all before setting them on the grill and maybe my taste buds aren’t very sophisticated but I couldn’t really tell the difference among them. But they all tasted fabulous all hot and melty in my mouth.

Raclette

Since the grill came from Switzerland, the plug was Swiss which wasn’t a big issue with adapters but Scotch’s dad was kind enough to change the plug to British so we wouldn’t need any adapters here in Dubai.

The two little pans that came with the grill are designed to be the perfect size to lay on a slice of Raclette which we then placed on the bottom of the grill where the heating coils above the pan melted the cheese within minutes.

Raclette grill in use

On the top of the grill, we crisped up some maple bacon and used the rendered bacon fat to saute sliced button mushrooms – oh yeah, baby!

Pork accompaniments for Raclette

We served out melted raclette with cornichons, baby potatoes, and a variety of charcuterie like salami, prosciutto, and thinly sliced ham.

As I mentioned earlier, how we like our accompaniments with the raclette is a matter of strong preference in our family. I like to pour the melted raclette over my accessory items like so…

Grilled Raclette about to be poured over pork accompaniments

…and then I like to further wrap a piece of charcuterie around it for the perfect bite.

Raclette

Scotch likes to place all his accessory items onto the raclette pan and then place the cheese slice on top so that when the cheese melts, everything is warmed up together and the cheese and accompaniments become one. And big bonus to taste if the cheese gets nicely browned.

Raclette

I’d love to hear how you enjoy your Raclette and I can’t wait to have another cozy Raclette party and expand on our collection of grills. I wonder if it comes in my favorite color yellow?

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

I Live in a Frying P March 18, 2012 at 3:20 am

OMG, I'm so jealous! I haven't had raclette in years! Wonder if Raclette cheese is available in Dubai…they should serve this in MOE next to the ski slope.
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ginger March 18, 2012 at 11:59 am

Thanks Arv! I second that idea about offering raclette at MOE.

Yes, Raclette cheese is widely available here (have seen in C4, Geant, Waitrose, Spinneys, etc) but I've never thought to see what village in Valais, Switzerland it is produced from until now. And other countries (like the US) also produce Raclette style cheese.

A Raclette grill can occasionally be purchased from Carrefour.

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Fong frm ChiTown March 18, 2012 at 9:07 am

I look forward to reading your blog. It looks like great fun, almost same concept as fondue, communal dining. I recently made your sausages & sauerkraut, the boyfriend loved it.

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ginger March 18, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Fondue and Raclette – The Swiss seem to be great at communal dining, don't they?

I'm so happy to hear that you tried the Charcroute Garnie – hope you liked it too!

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Sally - My Custard P March 18, 2012 at 10:46 am

You know how to enjoy your food to the max! Love the shopping basket shot. Really interesting post – I didn't know that much about raclette.
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ginger March 18, 2012 at 12:34 pm

I didn't know that much about Raclette either until I started researching for this post! Maybe one day I'll taste the difference among the different villages.

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Nick Rego March 18, 2012 at 10:47 am

Words fail me. No seriously, I'm licking my laptop screen now.

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ginger March 18, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Guess you are coming to the next party ;) ?

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Devina Divecha (FooD March 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm

I've never had Raclette before even though I've heard about it. It looks absolutely delicious, and like Nick I want to lick my screen (But I'm at work and I better not).
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ginger March 21, 2012 at 12:44 am

It's amazing how a boring looking cheese can transform and be transformed itself into an entire eating/socializing experience!

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abigail-mynappytales March 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Thanks for introducing me to Raclette. It reminds me of a cheese fondue. Now if only I can grab some from my screen.
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ginger March 21, 2012 at 12:47 am

Yes, both fondue and raclette are a Swiss thing – personally I much prefer raclette.

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Dima's Kitchen March 18, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Yum Yum Yum Sandy, these pics look fab :) that cheese is oozing with goodness and I don't mind adding some of those amazing mushrooms on top mmmmmm :)
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ginger March 21, 2012 at 12:48 am

I think next time we do Raclette, a visit to Galleries Lafayette for some nice accompaniments is in order :)

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Debs @ thespanishwok March 18, 2012 at 7:36 pm

What a great story, that pizza looks delicious. I've never had this dish although I have heard about it before. Raclette cheese is easily available here in Spain too, as are those lovely grills!!!! Maybe time to try a new dish I think.

I would never have thought that Dubai has english power points. You learn something new every day LOL.

BTW I watched that dreadful programme on Dubai Homes from Hell last week and thought of you. Made a nice change from the usual way it's usually about Spain!!!
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ginger March 21, 2012 at 12:50 am

Oh wow, I didn't know there was a series on Homes from Hell but I can certainly understand that there would be plenty to dish out about in regards to the Dubai market!

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Sheryn March 19, 2012 at 6:10 pm

I've never even HEARD of this! Thanks so much for the post… That's what I love about our group, so many different perspectives in one place!

That looks amazing! Are they hard to clean?
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ginger March 21, 2012 at 12:52 am

Glad to have enlightened another soul into the marvel that is Raclette :)

yes, the grill top is non-stick and detachable – so just like cleaning a nonstick pan. As soon as we were done, I soaked the grill in the sink filled with hot sudsy water to facilitate cleanup. And the little pans were also very easy to clean.

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Didi March 20, 2012 at 2:57 am

I love raclette! Stinky cheese FTW! We don't have the raclette machine though, What we do is we microwave the cheese for a little under a minute to let it melt. Stinks up the entire house, but the yum factor is worth it :)
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ginger March 21, 2012 at 12:55 am

Raclette isn't stinky at all – it's quite a mild cheese actually. Good idea about the microwave!

I'm afraid I'm feeling a little old as I don't know what "FTW" stand for!

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Devina Divecha (FooD March 22, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Don't feel old…I figured 'FTW' out only a year back… it means "for the win". Kind of means, OMG STINKY CHEESE IS THE BEST THING EVERRRRRRRRR.

Or something.
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Didi March 27, 2012 at 6:00 am

Must be the raclette that we get!? I find the cheese rather stinky when cooked. It has that certain odor.
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Didi March 27, 2012 at 6:01 am

Dee, I loved how you just dived in to explain FTW. Been picking up a LOT of acronyms lately to keep up with the times. Bwahahaha!
Didi recently posted..How do you stop the madness of mindless eating?My Profile

Britney Wheatstone March 26, 2012 at 10:38 pm

A raclette grill is a something I would fancy having in my kitchen. Those pictures have got me craving. I just wanna taste them all at once. They look so yummy.

Truffle is hard to handle in cooking. How did you manage to put in so beautifully in that delicious looking pizza?

Thanks.

-Britney
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