We took the Big Stone Cooking Area for its first spin tonight. Jay the mason finished it back at the end of September, but harvest was well underway at that point, so we were too busy to try it out.

Tonight was clear and bright, it’s a fine late fall night, cool, but not too cold. A perfect night to build a fire in the firepit and cook some raclette. Not that a perfect fall night is not reason enough by itself, but it’s also our 16th anniversary today!

Raclette is a kind of cheese, it’s a Swiss cheese, and tastes similar to grocery store Swiss. Traditionally you eat it by heating it in front of a fire and scraping the cheese as it melts onto plates. You eat it with potatoes, pickles, dried meat (such as prosciutto), and bread.

Since we had the firepit going we figured we’d do it old-school and melt the cheese by the fire.

Prepping for the raclette

We took a flat stone and Debbie scrubbed it nice and clean. We built a fire in the firepit and put the clean stone in there by the fire.

We let it get good and hot as the sun went down. In an hour or so the stone was hot enough you could barely touch it.

Melting Raclette

You can see the wedge of raclette in the picture above starting to melt. Our stone wasn’t quite level so the cheese would slide down the rock as it melted. There’s a chunk of bread wrapped in foil beside it, staying warm and toasty for smearing with the melted cheese.

It was very tasty. By cooking the raclette by the fire it just slowly melted, so you could scoop up a bit of melty cheese and eat it with bread and pickles and potatoes, and when you were done there’d be another piece of bubbly cheese waiting for you.

The stars were bright in the sky and we watched the International Space Station streak across the sky just above us. The fire danced and warmed our feet. I was sitting with my beloved on the 16th anniversary of joining our lives. It’s hard to imagine a better moment than that.

In the woefully short-lived TV show “Arrested Development” there was a scene where the narrator said about 17 year old George Michael, “That would be the happiest moment George Michael would ever experience in his life.” That’s a great conversation stimulating question when it’s late at night and you’re with friends.

I don’t know what the happiest moment of my life is, I’m confident I haven’t experienced it yet. But if tonight is it, I’m very fortunate indeed.

4 thoughts on “Raclette

    1. A bit of explanation for Peter Van Brussel’s comment. Way back when this project was yet to be born (somewhat documented here) I had the vague idea of a bread oven, vented into a largish chimney. You could then cook bread, or you could build a cool, smoky fire for smoking something in the chimney.

      One day I checked out “Meat Smoking and Smokehouse Design” by Stanley Marianski at the library and ran across this picture.

      That was exactly what I had in mind, and thus the Big Stone Cooking Area came to be.

      I searched around on the Internet a bit and happened to come across the builder of the original on Facebook, Peter Van Brussel. So, thanks for the idea, smoking buddy Peter!

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