Raclette Night is back at Findlay Market cheesemonger The Rhined.
Yes, as of Oct. 2, the shop has brought back its cold-weather tradition of melting and scraping raclette cheese (a type of Swiss) onto a pile of goodies like potatoes, veggies and charcuterie.
Raclette Night takes place 5-9 p.m. every Wednesday through March and costs $12.
Last year, we emailed with The Rhined's co-owner Stephanie Webster about the inspiration for starting Raclette Night and why more things aren't just entirely covered in melted cheese at all times. Some fun facts to revisit:
CityBeat: What inspired you guys to start doing a Raclette Night?
Stephanie Webster: The satisfaction of seeing (and eating) a huge hunk of melted cheese scraped right off of a bubbling wheel, for sure. Our first Raclette Night was actually a pop-up held at Rhinegeist long before we opened the shop, where we found out how the smell of raclette can really permeate a room (sorry 'bout that, Rhinegeist). I love raclette because it is such a simple food — cheese on boiled potatoes — but it's so warm and comforting on a cold winter night. We wanted to bring the Swiss Alps to Cincinnati!
CB: Can you explain what raclette is? Or where the concept came from? Is it a French thing? New York thing?
SW: Raclette is a Swiss/French Alp tradition. Everything in raclette is called raclette: the cheese, the dish, the knife, the warmer, the tradition. Raclette comes from the French word "racler" which means "scrape." This cheese is literally made to heat over an open fire and scrape on potatoes. And so after a long day of skiing in the Alps, people sit together and enjoy melty cheese.
CB: How does the actual melting process work? What is that cool heat machine at the end of the bar?
SW: Since we can't have an open fire in our shop, we picked up a raclette machine from France. We stick a 10 pound half wheel of cheese on it and let it melt to perfection.
CB: What all can people melt 'dat cheese on top of? Is it the same selection every week?
SW: We honor the simplicity of the dish and serve it in a very traditional way. Potatoes, ham and some of our house mustard and pickles. You can opt for a veggie version without the ham.
CB: Also, your pickled veggies were awesome. You pickle those yourself?
SW: My husband is going to be so happy to hear this! He has been pickling things for years so he was stoked to be tasked with pickling for the shop. We do a pickled mix of veggies for raclette that includes red peppers, cauliflower, carrots and Dave's brine, the recipe of which he keeps super secret. We also serve our house pickles on our cheese flights and boards.
CB: There are some specific suggested wines on the info sheet at the cash register. Are those selected to complement the cheese? We ended up getting three bottles of that French white. Very, very good.
SW: In Switzerland, you have to drink wine with raclette. The cheese is so high in fat and at that altitude your blood will congeal, so you have to drink wine to thin the blood. Our wines we selected complement the dish — we went with a Savoie white from a little town at the base of the Alps and a funky French Bourgogne Rouge. The white wine pairing is our favorite though. It's so refreshing and the acidity really cuts through all of that rich cheese. Glad you loved it!
The Rhined is located at 1737 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. More info: facebook.com/therhined.