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A Croute on Mt. Mayen

Passport & Plate - Croute Mayen

Switzerland | Friday, 14 March 2014 | 2 photos

Oil, for frying
Thick slice of day old French Bread
2-3 slices of ham
2- 3 slices of Gruyere Cheese to cover the bread
50ml of Fresh Cream
30ml of dry, white wine
Cayenne, to taste
Salt and pepper
One Whole Egg


How to prepare this recipe
1. First, heat the oil on medium-heat in a frying pan or sauté-pan. Add the French bread then top with ham, then the cheese to cover the entirety of the bread.
2. Add the wine by pouring around the bread, then cover and reduce until the wine is nearly evaporated. While cooking the bread, add oil to another pan for the fried egg. Heat the oil on medium-low and add the egg. Leave alone until all the whites nearly set before the underside browns.
3. When the wine has nearly dried, swirl the fresh cream around the bread and reduce until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Place the fried egg on top of the Croute Mayen and serve with a sprinkle of cayenne.


The story behind this recipe
As the first sun ray peered over the Swiss Alps, we were the first up and the first to carve through the powdery heaven.
Usually, the first run feels the most exhilarating, but that day even the twentieth run proved equally sublime. We got into a routine of playing tag where we would try to overtake each other at every turn and race down as fast as possible. By chance, when one of the guys cut through the out-of-bounds area and we followed, we ended up in front of a one-storied wooden hut. We realized it was already two in the afternoon and we hadn't eaten. Peeking inside, the interior was simple and unadorned. It was made entirely of wood including the counter, which had a wooden container filled with warm red wine and herbs and a mound of petit verre à vin or stacked wine glasses next to it. Directly behind the counter sat two portable stoves powered by one round gas tank. With our hunger mounting, we scanned through their simplified menu, the majority falling under the cold hors d’oeuvres. We went with the only hot offering: croute mayen.
I watched in anticipated disappointment as the lady in the kitchen took five minutes to stack toast with slices of ham and cheese and pour in white wine and cream. Everything felt too simple. I had imagined eating Bolognese or a whole pizza. Yet, once I cut through the fried egg that sat on top, it gushed out like an avalanche rolling over the melted cheese and mingling with the cream-wine mixture. With the first bite, I felt transformed and boggled at how something so simple could taste so wonderful. The thickness of the yolk and the cream worked so well with the dryness of the melted cheese, ham and bread. The Gruyere cheese gave it a sharp and earthy taste; the cream, the sweetness and the savory. The cayenne at the end added a kick of spiciness. It was the most memorable and surprising meal I have ever had and one that I still salivate just thinking about six years later.

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