With vacations on hold for what seems like will be forever, we are making every attempt to escape from reality. We are dreaming of new sights, new smells and new pairings that evoke snow capped mountains, or sun-bleached cliffs above sparkling blue water, or dewy green vineyards of fragrant olives and citrus. This week, Erin takes us the snowy Alps of Switzerland and Italy, places so remote and unique in their food traditions, that you won’t find their cheeses and many of the grapes grown there anywhere else in the world. That is, until you invite this celebrated pairing into your own home. Bon Voyage!
There is almost nothing that brightens a dreary winter day more than melty cheese. That’s a scientific fact, actually (citation pending). Enter Raclette, our Swiss angel from the Alps here to guide us through the mid-February dinner rut. The name Raclette comes from the French verb racler which means “to scrape” which is the traditional m.o. in serving this cheese. You know those videos that pop up as you mindlessly scroll through Instagram with the big wheel of melty cheese being scraped over a mountain of roasted potatoes? Yeah that’s Raclette; and you don’t have to make a trip to a Swiss chalet to have that be your reality! You don’t even need any fancy machinery to do it; just a frying pan over low heat. The cheese itself has a washed rind and is aromatic and slightly tangy but with milky-sweet paste that lends itself to a myriad of accompaniments. Along with potatoes, it is typically served over cured meats, sausages, and pickles but really the world is your oyster and raclette is the pearl. Top off burgers, paninis, roasted root veggies, apples, slices of tomato, or small toasts. Raclette is fun and interactive, and gives you an excuse to eat snacks for dinner. What more could you want?
We’re in straight up vacation mode with this pairing, continuing our après-ski theme with a white wine from the Italian Dolomites. Matteo Furlani is one of our favorite natural and biodynamic producers from the Alps – you may have seen a few of his rosé pet-nats on our shelves last summer. Furlani takes a hands off approach to his winemaking with no temperature control and no added yeast or sulfites; wines are left outside in the snow to clarify over the winter and you can feel the brisk air in this Alpino Bianco. Bianco has some really nice acidity, with tart and thirst quenching notes of honeydew and kiwi and granny smith apple; it gives off slight tropical vibes in the aroma, but has saline minerality that offers a nice grounding quality. All of these zippy flavors play off melty, gooey raclette exceptionally well. With rich cheese over all those roasty veggies and salty meats, something bright and fresh like Alpino is exactly what you want to wash it all down. Bonus: Alpino is fairly low in ABV (something we look for in wine), so you can snack and sip the night away, not one regret in sight.
written by Erin Hepinstall, Cheese Manager
edited by Leah Mojer, M & P