Verbier and Le Châble, the valley of Bagnes, Switzerland.
When talking about cheese and Raclette, there is only one Monsieur Raclette in the world, and that’s Eddy. Eddy Ballifard.
Eddy knew he wanted to have cattle, of course the Hérens breed, and make Raclette cheese already at the age of five. Every day after school, he sneaked away from his parents and went to help his grand father with the farm.
Today Bruson, the small cheese dairy of Eddy and his son, is located close to Verbier, at the quiet and sunny shoulder of the Val d’Aniviers in the canton of Valais. Eddy Baillifard and his Raclette de Bruson are as unique as the people and the cows from this valley – and full of legends. Where else in the world are cow fights the cultural highlight of the season?
Every year, the “Bagnes, raclette capital” and tasting week event takes place. Locals and tourists get the chance to try the cheeses and raclettes made by mountain producers from the pastures in Bagnes and Entremont – and guest starring dairies further away. http://www.verbier.ch
Raclette – and Bagnes as the World Capital of Raclette – is part of the culinary heritage of the Swiss Alps with references dating back to the 1200s.
Traditionally, the French and Swiss cow herders carried the Raclette with them when they moved their cows to and from the mountain pastures. In the evenings they would place their Raclette next to the camp fire, often times on a large rock, and once it had reached the perfect softness, the herders would then scrape the Raclette onto their bread or potatoes.
The “Tasting Week” in the little village of Le Châble, further down the mountains from Verbier, is very popular and draws several thousand people who come to discover all the secrets of the Valais cheeses which delight foodies and are the producers’ true pride.
Both children and adults participate in cheese making workshops. During the weekend there is a big procession featuring cows from the pastures.
Eddy Baillifard is one of the last Raclette du Valais AOP cheesemakers, who still knows how to produce a Raclette from fresh, unpasteurized milk. The natural cultures and the flora of the milk help to create this perfect cheese.
Raclette is enjoyed melted with boiled potatoes, pickled onions and gherkin, served with a local white wine; Fendant.
The Raclette is really made using ancestral methods with unpasteurised milk of cows grazing on the alpine meadows. The name Raclette comes from the French word ‘racler’, which means ‘to scrape’.
You can taste Eddys creations at his Raclett’House Chez Eddy in Bruson, http://www.racletthouse.ch