So anyways, I had to fly to Melbourne for work last week. While I adore Melbourne – it’s my absolute hands-down favourite city in Australia – this was completely last minute, so last minute I was booking flights the day before I needed to leave. Again, this wouldn’t normally be a problem, but we’re due to fly out for our big trip in a few weeks and I have a lot to do before we go. But, as they say, heigh ho.
Because I was there purely for work, I didn’t get out to any of the foodie places I normally love getting out to, but did sneak in a cheeky wine bar visit in Hardware Lane.
The purpose of my visit had me running around town all Friday, but I still managed to stop to snap this pic of the Welsh church up in La Trobe Street…
…and for a bowl of spicy noodles.
Most importantly, I took the opportunity to visit with my friend, Fiona, and was introduced to the Raclette party.
Now, before you go thinking things you shouldn’t – this is, after all, a G-rated blog – the Raclette party is sort of like the fondue party, but you grill your cheese and scrape it over bread and other bits rather than dip your bread and other bits into the cheese. A fine but important difference.
Now, before I go any further, raclette is a semi-soft Swiss cheese made of cow’s milk that melts well. As for the dish, the word “raclette” is from the French verb racler, meaning to scrape and refers to the way in which the melted cheese is scraped from the half-wheel once it’s been heated.
The dish itself dates back to the Middle Ages, when Swiss shepherds and mountaineers in the region of the Cantons of Valais would consume roasted cheese wheels cut in half and softened by the fire. Many centuries later this rustic dish has become so popular it’s now known as one of Switzerland’s most famous national dishes.
While I’ve seen raclette around – mostly in bars in Melbourne during winter – it’s always been done on one of those commercial heating thingies holding half a cheese wheel. To have it at home? That was completely new – but something that makes absolute sense: the prep is minimal, the guests do all the cooking, the clean-up is easy, and it’s fun.
What you need…
You will, of course, need a tabletop Raclette grill. Consisting of two warming levels, the top is for grilling and warming your accompaniments, while the individual paddles hold the cheese that you grill on the bottom shelf.
And the cheese? Naturally, you need the sliced raclette, but if you can’t get the real thing, you might want to try a combo of any of the below:
- Cheddar cheese
When it comes to accompaniments, you can go as crazy as you want. Boiled potatoes and bread are traditional, as is charcuterie, but you can try other veg, meats, or even seafood. On our table we also had a salad to cut through the richness, and plenty of mustards and other condiments.