An avalanche of raclette (Charcuterie and Truffle)
Mercato, Farmers Market, Little Italy
Transport to Switzerland Via Little Italy
By Frank Sabatini Jr.
Paris native Robin Miller of Charcuterie and Truffle offers something at the Little Italy Mercato on Saturdays that many visitors have never encountered. It’s called raclette, a melty cheese that is heated on a plane and scraped off onto individual servings of cooked potatoes.
The culinary ritual originated along the Swiss-French border more than a century ago and is popular throughout central Europe.
Miller imports the unpasteurized, cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland. He said that about 50 percent of people who approach his stall “have no idea what it is when they see the giant 14-pound wheel of raclette.” Conversely, “people who travel to Europe usually know,” he added. And they also agree with him that the raclette sold in American stores “is really bad” – not the real deal. (This writer can also attest after savoring a few raclette dinners in Europe and then buying a knockoff version of the cheese at a local grocery store.)
Miller sells his “Swiss bowls” for $16. They feature oozy glops of raclette draped over potato and chopped cornichon pickles. Each dish is finished off with a couple of thin, rolled slices of prosciutto, fresh chives and crispy onions.
Also available is Miller’s signature “French sandwich,” which omits the potatoes in lieu of ciabatta bread. It sells for $15. Breakfast sandwiches and bowls using raclette were recently added to the menu, and Miller notes that customers buying any item can opt for a squirt of French-imported truffle sauce for $2 extra.
The Saturday market runs from 8:00a to 2:00p, although Miller warns that he attracts “a crazy line around lunchtime” and often sells out before the end of the day.