Tag Archives: cheese

Grill of My Dreams

This weekend I finally got to rev up one of our wedding presents, which is, quite simply, the greatest thing ever – a raclette grill.

For the most part, the Swiss are quite happy being Swiss, enjoying their lives in Switzerland. They don’t really get involved, except to offer the world some first-rate luxury exports from time to time – namely, chocolate, watches, and Roger Federer. I like that their national motto is the same as The Three Musketeers’, “One for all, all for one” and their foreign policy is sensibly isolationist.

One thing the Swiss aren’t neutral about, though, is cheese. They rock at it. They take cheese to another level. And they invented the cheese-melting machine of my dreams, the raclette grill.

Raclette Opening Box

This addition to our household was such an occasion, I had to blog about it!

You can get raclette cheese in pre-sliced packages. The little squares fit perfectly into the trays, called coupelles.

Raclette Cheese Package

Raclette Cheese Slices

Another major component is the meat, which gets seared on the top griddle. We got the butcher to cut some thin slices of filet mignon. You can marinade it in advance, but we chose to simply salt and pepper it as we go.

Raclette Parson's Nose Steak Raw Slices Filet

Raclette Filet Steak

The accompaniments are also important: a charcuterie of cured meats, boiled potatoes, and cornichon are the main ones.

Raclette Table

Raclette Cured Meats

raclette Sauces

The Hubster even whipped up a pair of condiments – a creamy curry sauce, and an herby yogurt sauce with dill, basil and cilantro.

Nothing left to do but switch on the raclette grill!

Raclette Machine Turning it on

It’s so perfectly compact, and ideal for the tabletop. Bop a piece of steak on the hot grill to sear, while the tray of cheese melts on the grill below.

Raclette Steak on the Grill

Raclette Cheese and Steak

Raclette Steak Sizzling

Raclette Tray Melted

When you hear the cheese start bubbling, just remove the tray from the heat, and pour onto your plate! Preferably over potatoes, or whatever else happens to be in the way.

Raclette Cheese Cheesy

Raclette Melty Cheese

Raclette Melty Stringy

Raclette Stringy Cheese

Raclette Cheesy Plate

Well, there you have it: the most amazing invention a true cheese lover could ever hope for.

And a gift that will keep the sizzle in our marriage for many years to come!

Poppies & Lavender

England is officially in bloom! And what a gorgeous weekend for putting the top down and cruising the back roads – taking in the sights and smells of summer blossoms.

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We passed this field of poppies – too beautiful not to stop. These red poppies are the English remembrance flower – used since 1920 to commemorate soldiers who have died in battle. So although the poppies are strikingly pretty, they also evoke a tiny pang of sorrow.

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Cotswold Lavender in Snowshill produces some of the finest lavender products in the country. With the fields in peak flower, it was an opportune time to stop in and stroll through the brilliantly colored meadows.

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Lavender has such a calming effect on me, and the gift shop sells little sachets of dried lavender for £1.99 to take home! They also produce lavender oils, body creams, and even a slumber gel to rub on your temples before bed for a good night’s sleep.

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Feeling blissed out, with our clothes and hair lavender-scented, we stopped at the Norman Knight pub to beat the summer heat with a cool drink. A shaded picnic table awaited us in the garden, where we plucked little sprigs of lavender – the perfect hat accessory!

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Norman Knight

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On the way home, we picked up groceries for lunch – including a few savory treats from The Cotswold Cheese Company in Moreton in Marsh.

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We enjoyed the rest of the evening’s dwindling sun on the lawn with a glass of wine – playing a few games of giant pick-up sticks.

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As a wise man once told me – when the sun smiles on England, it’s the greatest place in the world.

Sunday Picnic in Paris

Don’t go to Paris on a Sunday. Don’t waste your time. Why bother? None of the Parisians do – everything is closed (at least the authentic bits are). The only places where people show up to work on a Sunday are the Louvre and the d’Orsay. I wouldn’t deign to step foot in either. The queues are an English person’s heaven – lampoonish queues – literally queues without an end in sight. Hey, I love art probably more than the next guy, but I am so over cold, cavernous galleries and corridors filled with the same plundered antiquities. Frankly, it’s a bore and it has been for some time. Those limp hoards queuing for hours don’t know what they’re looking at once they’re in. It’s a mess.

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As long as the weather was going to hold out for us, we were determined to take Paris by foot and cover as much ground as we could. After a prolonged roam through the Latin Quarter trying to seek out a mind-blowing petit déjeuner when everyplace was closed, we settled for a cafe across from St. Sulpice on the corner of Rue des Canettes. It was all locals. We ordered an emmantel omelette to share – but our garçon informed us they were already sold out of the croissants we’d desperately been craving. “You slept too long,” he told us. Touché.

The sights of Paris gleamed a little bit brighter after a strong coffee had awakened our senses.

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We took in the ancient streets and alleys, the monumental architecture, the views from the Sienne, and a few artisan vendors who graced us with their sheer availability to conduct business. Here’s a run down of our foodie finds:

a gooey pot of St Marcellin from the Marché Saint-Germain

a gooey pot of St Marcellin from the Marché Saint-Germain

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Warm baguette and artichoke quiche from Eric Kayser Artisan Boulanger

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And an assortment of fresh salads from the sweetest lady at deli-of-the-gods Le Traiteur on Rue Saint-Dominique.

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Oh, everyone should go here! Treat yourself to everything. Then go picnic on the lawn of the Eiffel Tower and feel fully and completely indulged.

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It was a wicked whirlwind of a weekend, but by the end of it I was a bullet in the chamber, ready to be shot back across the English Channel.

An exciting week ahead in London – stay tuned!