Every year around this time I go in search of the box that holds our Swiss Raclette. I usually find it in the back of some closet, but this year it was in the garage, reminding me that sometime during the summer I had started to clean the closet, which, in effect, meant moving stuff to the garage. Next summer I’ll clean the garage.
Anyway, every winter we raclette with friends, because not to include friends is pretty much to miss the whole point of racletting, which is to sit around what is as close to an open fire as you can get in your dining room and talk for hours as you cook proteins, vegetables, and potatoes and drink vasts amount of wine. Of course, mid-way through the process you have to get up and open a window because the temperature in the house has risen to 85 degrees. Or maybe at that point it is just the effects of the wine and it feels like 85. But who cares, at that point the 10-degree-outdoor temperature is too appealing, energy efficiency be damn.
This year we racletted over two nights–the first with Eva and Nigel, mainstays in our racletting over the years. I can’t recall ever racletting without them. In years past, however, we have had up to ten around the table, which is a feat, considering we only have enough racletting utensils for eight and there is no way ten people can be within reach of the raclette at the same time. Ours is a six-person raclette at most, forget about the eight sets of utensils that came with the set. That is just manufacturer hyperbole.
On the second night we introduced Ines to the raclette. This was not a decision made lightly. Ines is a grazer, meaning she eats and runs, and when she eats, she often is reaching for anything on the table she wants. The raclette can fry an egg in about 30 seconds; a child’s hand probably wouldn’t need as long. So we positioned her just out of reach of the raclette and constantly monitored her bouncing up and down. When the shrimp went on the grill and began to immediately sizzle, she understood and never made a move for the apparatus. Of course, with Ines there was no wine–for any of us–and we didn’t linger. We cooked, ate, and talked, and then shut it down.
With Eva and Nigel we went a good three hours. We even turned the raclette off mid-way through (about the time I opened the window) and then shortly thereafter started it up again, and started eating again. We had a variety of sausages (bangers in honor of Nigel), some shrimp and bacon, potatoes, and an assortment of vegetables. And we had raclette cheese, bread, oranges, mushrooms, and proscuitto. And, of course, we had butter for Eva and the rest of us but mainly for Eva.
With Ines, we ate the leftovers from the previous night and added some sole. This was the first time we had ever grilled fish on the raclette. It melted in my mouth, it was so good.
All in all, it was a great two nights. Any night spent with Eva and Nigel and wine is great. It left me anxious for the summer and firing up the grill and sitting in the backyard into the late hours, something we sort of got away from when Ines was born but definitely need to get back to this summer. With Ines, it was her introduction to a yearly event. Ultimately, she will join the larger group, eating with us and friends, and maybe one day even with some of her own friends, minus the wine.