It was a pleasure to melt. The sky was blue and gin-clear at the Dallas Farmers Market, and Rich Rogers of Scardello Artisan Cheese tiled a baguette with salami rounds. A half-wheel of raclette, thicker than the longest Tolkien novel, sat in its holster: It’s a machine designed to heat the cross-section of the cheese from end-to-end, suspending molten raclette in its own pungent rind.
Once the surface blistered and crackled in spots, it was ready. Effortlessly, Rogers adjusted the machine, and the wheel dropped down on one side. Melting cheese, somewhere between brie and Swiss, cascaded onto the rounds of salami, ribboned in buttery waves. Welcome to Raclette, TX.
Eleven years ago, Rich and Karen Rogers opened Scardello Artisan Cheese on Oak Lawn. Now, they’re going mobile in the way you’d hope a humble cheesemonger would, hitting the streets with a table, a wheel of cheese, and an armful of baguettes.
If you haven’t enjoyed molten raclette, the Alpine-style cow’s milk cheese, you’ve likely seen it on social media. Maybe you’ve seen the little cast-iron spatula sending a carpet of steamy cheese over roasted potatoes (that’s a traditional way of doing things in the old country). Dallas doesn’t raclette often. (Rogers assures raclette can absolutely be a verb.) Fount Board and Table, a new grazing table restaurant on Routh Street, isn’t featuring it currently, but plans to raclette in the future. Over in Addison, you’ll find the pungent cheese in a fondue cauldron at the Melting Pot.
It’s a cheese that demands attention. The aroma that rides the wind has notes of baseball player armpit and that-sock-that-didn’t-get-washed-right. The flavor profile is something entirely different: You can taste a high altitude mountain breeze roiling around in grass. You can taste good French butter and a glass canteen of milk.
“It’s like taking an Alpine village and plopping it in the heart of Texas,” Rogers says. “It has the texture of a baked brie, but the flavor is so much more rich and complex. It’s meant to be melted.”
Raclette, TX, is a Rogers version of a pop-up, a ghost kitchen with French (or Swiss-born) stinky cheese in tow. You can visit Raclette, TX on the weekends at the farmers market, and there are four sandwiches, less than a handful of perfect ingredients on each, on the menu. The fourth sandwich will be a seasonal entry, and this month features a rosemary-spiked ham in between cascades of melted raclette cheese, all on a Village Bakery baguette.
Each of Rogers’ sandwiches are a 12-buck gift to the city, an instant gemstone, a rare sandwich that draws sparkling eyes and “oohs” and “ahhs.” It has the holy triumvirate: sliced meat, melted cheese and good bread. A number of people shouted, “Kind sir, where did you get that?!” like we were in a Manhattan produce market in the roaring ’20s. At least, that’s how the voices hit my ears: I was inebriated by cheese.
Around lunchtime, a crowd gathered to watch Rogers paint the tail end of the baguette with buttery cheese ― a genius sandwich strategy to ensure you get the raclette on the first bite.
“A lot of people ― the smell is what brought them over,” Rogers says. When the rind is washed and aged, notes of funk that you can sniff build and build. Rogers gets his wheels imported from France or Switzerland (they’re made on the border of both), and slices them in-house. You’ll find one person per wheel-half, making a humble little show at the market of scraping soft and sticky cheese onto bread.
The finished sandwich was zig-zagged with Dijon mustard. Rogers lined the salami with halved cornichons ― a welcome pat-on-the-back of pickley tang ― and wrapped the holding end in paper. Show up early, and you can watch the heat slow-melt the raclette.
You’ll find Raclette, TX at The Shed at the Dallas Farmers Market, 920 S Harwood Street, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 15; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 16; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 29; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 1.