Easy entertaining: Swiss-style

Easy entertaining: Swiss-style

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Impress your guests with your knowledge of Swiss specialties, and save time and energy by hosting your next dinner party with simple local favourites. Expatica shows you how to roast raclette – the Valais way.

Impress your guests with your knowledge of Swiss specialties, and save time and energy by hosting your next dinner party with simple local favourites.

This month, Expatica shows you how to roast raclette – the Valais way.

If you're interested in becoming properly acquainted with local cuisine, giving raclette a go is a great place to start.

The lovely Florence, chief raclette chef of Dahu restaurant in Anzere, demonstrated for editor, Anna Tuson how it's done in the Alps.

Situated at the bottom of the piste, she caters to the skiers of Valais who swoop in in droves looking for something that will fill their bellies and warm their bones after a hard day on the slopes.

The raclette meal is simple, preparation time is minimal, and when you're at home, each person can 'cook' and serve for themselves, so no-one is left slaving away in the kitchen.

It is a lovely social way to enjoy a meal in winter, and goes wonderfully with a glass of wine or nip of schnapps.

The traditional Valais plate consists of pickled onions, gerkins, boiled potatoes and melted raclette cheese – what could be easier?

And it seems the locals can't get enough of the stuff.

At Dahu, Florence uses a fancy large gas-fired raclette oven, which keeps innumerable ravenous snow bunnies happily gobbling away at any one time, but you will get the same effect for smaller groups with mini-versions of the cooker available from Coop and Migros Cities for around CHF20.

If you do have the good fortune to have access to the big guy, and are looking to cater to cheese-lovers in their hundreds, you can use a full round of raclette cheese. You melt bit by bit, slicing off each layer with a knife directly onto the plates in an enticing 'guhh-lump', as Florence delightfully demonstrates.

Raclette cheese can also be bought at any supermarket pre-sliced, ready for the occasion, to be used in the home ovens. Simply arrange these slices on the little metal cooking spades for each guest, dish up the onions, gerks and tatties, and let the guests take care of themselves.

The cheese should be melted under the heat for a few minutes, until it gets nice and brown and bubbly on the top, then scraped off onto the plate and devoured with the accompaniements.

The general rule is that you must have a piece of raclette on the go at all times.

And if you over-do it on the cheese (which is easily done), a good dose of kirsch or other hearty mountain schnapps is supposed to sort things out so be sure to keep something of the sort on hand.

Bon appetit! – En guete!

Anna Tuson / Expatica

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