Archive for the ‘cheese’ Category

Simple Potato and Cheese Lunch or Dinner

Raclette-PotatoThis isn’t a recipe but rather a meal idea. Switzerland, where I live, has a fairly restrained indigenous cuisine. The dish most outsiders know is fondue. There is also something called raclette, which involves melting a special kind of cheese and eating that with boiled potatoes and pickled vegetables.

Raclette is actually delicious. But it requires an apparatus to melt and scrape the cheese. That means somebody is stuck doing the melting, and everybody else is sort of waiting. It’s hard to tuck in and eat.

There’s a variation on the theme where you just boil a lot of potatoes (in their jackets), keep them warm in a cloth-lined basket, then set out some cheeses, maybe one pickle or salad-type dish, and a plate of flavorful grapes. You can dress the meal up with wine or dress it down with cider. The simplicity is part of the charm. It’s terrific for entertaining because the food doesn’t get in the way of conversation. You can assemble it in a hurry, and scale it up easily. And there’s hardly anything to clean up.

The potatoes should be medium-sized. I like raclette potatoes (apparently also called nicola potatoes), which have yellow flesh and a lovely taste. The hard part is picking the cheeses. You want a mix that is interesting. At one such meal we were served Brie de Meaux, Tendre Bûche Chavroux (goat cheese), Cambozola (a German cheese with a little bit of blue cheese mixed in), and one or two local Swiss hard cheeses. A few weeks ago, people we were visiting brought out a small round wooden box containing an orange-crusted cheese that was so creamy you had to scoop it out with a spoon. It’s called Vacherin Mont d’Or, and it was sublime. I don’t know if you can get it in the States.