Swiss eating in the Midwest

Posted: March 24, 2015 in Food, Friends
Tags: , , , , ,

When we got the good news that friends would be in town Friday night for dinner, Bill suggested we have raclette. Raclette is both a cheese and a meal featuring that cheese, a meal perfect for using the time with friends for eating and having fun, rather than cooking and cleaning up.  That’s a winner in my book!

In Switzerland, where both the cheese and the meal originated, the edge of the round of cheese is heated and the melted cheese scraped onto the diner’s plate. In fact, raclette comes from the French word racler, meaning “to scrape.”  Also on the table will be boiled new potatoes, cornichons (small pickled gherkins), and pickled onions.  Eat a bit of each together = heaven!

Although I’ve never had a round of cheese or a way to heat it if I did, it’s generally easy to assemble the necessary ingredients: get raclette at Trader Joe’s, an enormous jar of pickled onions at World Market, pickles and potatoes wherever.  And since some years ago, our older daughter gifted us with a raclette machine for Christmas, I no longer have to ferry plates of cheese to and from the microwave and can sit, enjoying my meal and wine with everyone else.  However, this year, procuring the ingredients took on a weird, annoying life of its own.

I went to Trader Joe’s and forgot to get the cheese.  Ran a couple errands before I discovered this and had to go back to Trader Joe’s, only to find after standing and perusing the cheese section for long minutes, that they had no raclette; seasonal to them, I was told.  Try Whole Paycheck Foods, I was told.  Figured that would cost me, but…  Stopped at World Market for onions, only to find that the ones they had were flavored.  Didn’t think think vermouth flavor would work well.  More frustration and knew it was going to cost me more at WF.  Decided I was two doors away from WF and might as well stop and get it over with.  That’s when life improved immeasurably.

OK, the onions weren’t inexpensive and there weren’t as many as I would have preferred but I was NOT going to any more stores, so I bit the bullet and bought a jar.  Next, I found something on sale that I always look for when at WF and then I came to the cheese department.  Oh, joyous day!  I saw not one, not two, but THREE types of raclette.  And one of them was on sale.  It was, however, American, a raw milk cheese from Vermont, but considerably less expensive (at least on sale) than the other two, which included the traditional Swiss version.

Time for advice and the cheesemonger was unequivocal–this cheese was by far the best of the three. He loves raclette and had tried them all.  So off I went with the cheese and all my goodies, thrilled at a wonderful ending (and less expensive ending than expected) to what had started out to be a nightmare.

The meal itself is a doodle–get the machine out of the basement, set the table, chill the wine.  Slice the cheese, put onions and pickles in their own bowls, boil the potatoes.  Put all that and the salad out. Get ready to party.  The eating part is even easier:  put some cheese into the little, handled pan and slide it under the broiler.  When melted, take out, empty onto your plate and enjoy.  Talk with friends, drink some wine.  Repeat until all the food is gone.  Have some dessert.  Be happy.

  1. Sandra says:

    We first encountered the raclette when we lived in Germany and were invited to dinner with locals. They would cook small cubes of pork, lamb, beef or chicken on the top of the raclette whilst cooking whisked eggs or cheese-topped potatoes in the little dishes beneath the plate. Served with green salad and dark german bread … mmm. Such a relaxed form of dining, and after a lively evening liberally laced with weissbeer I would practically need a wheelbarrow to get me home. 😦 Now to discover just where I stored our raclette… I think it might be under the bed at the boat so if we meet up again in France we could give it an outing, Janet.

    • I didn’t realize until recently that all these other food items were often part of the meal. Sounds good but heavy! If we meet up again, raclette would be great, but any meal would be lots of fun.


  2. Steve says:

    Sounds fab!

  3. I’m tired from all your prep – all the running around and thinking you did – for a meal that was supposed to be simple and no clean up.

    Still – I’ll be over next week to try it out since you didn’t invite me to this one
    Hope you won’t have to make as many trips to the store this time.

    Did it snow? Randy

    • Now that I know where to find everything, it will be easier. But I’m still on the hunt for a larger, less expensive bottle of the onions! Stop in any time.

      Yes, we got 4+” which at this time of year, is a bit much! I’m ready for spring.


  4. I had never heard of this but it sounds delicious and you got to check out all your local stores. 🙂

    • It is delicious, Judy, but I was already familiar with all these stores! 🙂 Once I (hopefully) find a better source of onions, I’ll know exactly where to go next time.


  5. This is my kind of meal. 😊

  6. I miss my home food even more after seeing this 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by, Chandon, even if it made you homesick. 🙂


      • Its not much of homesickness per se but that homely taste I missed the most while going through your post. You know its ingredients are not restricted to vegetables or spices but goes to motherly love and care that is put into it 🙂

  7. Looks yummy. Great photos

  8. AnnIsikArts says:

    Had raclette a few times when we lived in France. Hated it! Too fatty for me!

  9. What an adventure, Janet! You can’t go wrong with The Raclette. Your photographs and plates and are gorgeous. And now you have a Cheesemonger in your life. Essential! What kind of wine did you serve with the feast?

    Enjoy the week,