Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day 694 : Cheese for Hibernation?

It's officially winter. December missed the memo, but don't worry January received it loud and clear. This morning while I was running the official temperature was 12 degrees but realistically with the wind chill, it was 3 degrees. Now I wouldn't be mentioning this if it hadn't been 50 degrees less than five days ago. The drastic shift is causing lots of Theraflu, Emergen-C, Ricolas and the shared desire of most Manhattanites to hibernate. When in hibernation you probably want lots of roasted vegetables, baked mac n' cheese dishes, dark ales, red wines, you name it, we all have our favorite tummy and soul warming dishes.

Most people think fondue when you think of that sort of comfort warming dish, right? Well what about Raclette?

Raclette is both a cheese, a grill, and refers directly to the manner in which that cheese is melted over different foods. Raclette is derived from the French word, racler meaning "to scrape," which is what French cowboys used to do with large wheels of this cheese once melted over a fire with bread and potatoes to land on.

So what sort of cheese is Raclette?

It is a traditionally French and Swiss alpine style semi-soft washed rind cheese that is routinely softer than its other alpine cheese cousins like Appenzeller and Comte. Smooth, silky, milky and buttery with a rustic barnyardy finish and light nutty hay notes, it is excellent for the wintertime because of its inherently warming qualities.

If you're feeling old fashioned, you can go out and buy a half wheel and lightly heat it so you can scrape (racler) the gooey morsels onto the starchy surface of your choice or since it is the 21st century, you can go out and buy a raclette grill and have this little machine do all of your work for you!

Either way -- I guarantee some of this cheese heated to perfection is just the ticket on this cold winter evening. Perhaps with a nice big glass of red wine or a deep dark ale or even a tippler of mulled wine if you're feeling spicy. Stay warm folks.


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