Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Raclette

Upon returning to Canada, I was fortunate enough to have the chance to visit friends in the Eastern Townships/Cantons de l'est in Québec.  Dinner was quite a treat, as I never before experienced raclette.  I was familiar with the pungent cheese of the same name, but not the dish, using a raclette grill::

Originally, raclette, the dish, was heating raclette cheese to soften it, scraping it on to plates, and serving it with various accoutrements.  What I experienced was the modern version of it.  According to Wikipedia::
"A modern way of serving raclette involves an electric table-top grill with small pans, known as coupelles, to heat slices of raclette cheese in. Generally the grill is surmounted by a hot plate or griddle. The cheese is brought to the table sliced, accompanied by platters of boiled or steamed potatoes, other vegetables, charcuterie, and perhaps seafood. Diners create their own small packages of food by cooking small amounts of meat, vegetables and seafood on the griddle. These are then mixed with potatoes and topped with cheese in the small, wedge-shaped coupelles that are placed under the grill to melt and brown the cheese. Alternatively, slices of cheese may be melted and simply poured over food on the plate. The accent in raclette dining is on relaxed and sociable eating and drinking, the meal often running to several hours. French and other European supermarkets generally stock both the grill apparatus and ready-sliced cheese and charcuterie selections for use with it. Restaurants also provide raclette evenings for parties of diners."
I never saw this before and it was interesting.  We had various sliced meats from the area, as well as shrimp, along with fresh vegetables and various sauces.  I think what I liked the most was how the grill served as a literal centrepiece, fostering lively conversation, that included Inuit art, the meaning of Canada, and the brilliance of Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Québécois.  I also liked how the raclette grill allows creativity and freedom in terms of experimenting with flavours.  I'm kicking myself that I didn't take a few pictures of the spread, but it just serves as a good excuse to head back to Lower Canada.  Oh, I almost forgot to mention the maple yogurt parfaits!

I have many fond food memories of Québec, even my first and only taste of bière d'épinette.

Song::  Une fleur (live) - Stéphanie Lapointe

Twitterversion:: Treated to grilling on the #raclette earlier this month in Cantons de l'est - #Québec. @Prof_K


hotTamale said...

Great post and photo-- I love Raclette!

Kenneth M. Kambara said...

I can't wait to try it again.