In my wildest food fantasies, there's typically some combination of cheese, potatoes, pickles or all of the above. After all, I never met a cheese I didn't like, and potatoes are the world's most versatile plant. And pickles -- well, who doesn't love the satisfying crunch of a sweet gherkin? A hearty dill? A glowing green half sour?
So I was more than a little thrilled to discover that there's a classic Swiss dish that encompasses all three: raclette. Recently, I was introduced to a genuine incarnation of this gourmet wonder at London's Borough Market; specifically, at a world-famous cheese stand called Kappacasein.
They say raclette dates back to medieval times, so folks have been eating this cheesy concoction for centuries. And while the exact dish has different incarnations, the traditional method starts with toasting a giant wheel of cheese by a fire (nowadays, they've got machines to serve this purpose). Then, the perfectly browned top layer is delicately scraped off onto a plate of waiting potatoes (or sometimes, vegetables or dried meats). Topped with some salt and pepper and paired with cornichons or pickled onions, it's a bubbly mound of toasty cheese and starchy goodness that has no equal.
The folks at Kappacasein use an Ogleshield cheese -- a mix of Montgomery cheddar, Ogleshield and Comte cheeses. They pair it with new potatoes and spicy baby gherkins to create the gooey, piping hot masterpiece you see below. Their version is an individual portion, but you can score raclette machines or grills that are designed to make the dish for communal eating.
In addition to manning a stand, the folks behind this epic edible are also a dairy based in the Bermondsey area of South London. Notably, they use a 100-year-old copper vat for their production, plus organic milk.
Sadly, raclette isn't quite as easy to make at home, given the need for a gargantuan wheel of cheese and a fire -- or a raclette machine. But, the folks at Kappacasein also make a three-cheese toastie (aka panini) that's earned rave reviews from food critics worldwide -- and it's a hell of a lot easier to re-create. Click here for a recipe.
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If you're ever in London -- and you're a fan of all things cheese, Kappacasein wins.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.