Monday, December 15, 2008

Fondue? Fondue-n’t: Raclette now at the Goose

Put away those tiny forks with the long handles. Raclette has arrived at the Goose! This robust, smooth Swiss cheese is best warmed to a delicious ooze, but it’s a far distant cousin to that cheesy pot bubbling over the tea light.

As early as the 13th century, mountain herdsman in the French-speaking Valais area of Switzerland--think Matterhorn territory--have nestled slabs of golden Raclette near the hot coals of their evening fires. Scraping a hot, melted layer of this cow’s milk cheese onto crusty bread made for a hearty end to the day’s work.

Through the centuries, that humble hill-side dinner grew into a tradition. Boiled potatoes, tart pickles, and pearl onions joined the crusty bread under its blanket of silky, molten Raclette. A stiff white wine or a cup of hot tea sidled next to the plate, and a sprinkling of black pepper or paprika decorates the Raclette of modern-day herdsman.

Though we lack the elevation here in Matterhorn-less Indy, all the ingredients for a hot Raclette dinner are stocked at the Goose.

We’ll slice your chunk of Swiss Raclette to order while little fingerling potatoes, cornichon, fresh baguettes, and bourbon-smoked paprika and black pepper are yours for the taking. Warm your oven's broiler as soon as you get home and then give thick slices of Raclette a moment to sizzle. (For a Swiss trio, add slabs of Emmental and Gruyere from the Goose.) Use crusty bread to scoop up the silky, salty stuff or let the cheese live up to its French namesake and scrape—or racler—it onto a plateful of hot potatoes and crunchy cornichon.

Wash it all down with some tiny bubbles from the Goose's cellar. Gabe recommends the French Jean Louis Denois N/V Brut Blancs de Blancs (Languedoc) for its citrus and apricot on the nose and peachy, mineral palate. (Robert Parker Jr. gave this bottle 89 points...and a partridge in a pear tree.) Similar citrus aromas come with Brugge Brasserie's White Ale, a crisp and refreshing ale with just a touch of sourness that Gabe likes to cut the richness of the Raclette.

Looking for an easy and satisfying winter meal? Herd your family around the table with Raclette dinner from the Goose!

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