Part 2 of 3
One of my winter bucket list tasks was to have a fondue party. Fondue is so retro that it might be cool again. Perhaps once a peasant food, or perhaps not, fondue has been enjoyed by Europeans for hundreds of years. Cold weather and melty cheese go well together and make for a fun night in. I have a love for interactive eating. It’s like entertainment and food rolled into one.
Bread is the traditional thing to dip into cheese fondue and we had ciabatta which is a white, porous, Italian bread. We also had blanched broccoli and carrot, tortellini and popcorn chicken. There were also a few nibbles that didn’t require dipping: salami, a can of stuffed green olives, a jar of pitted black olives and a small bowl of pickles. These were great for grazing on while waiting for the fondue to cook.
During our cheese fondue, the first dishes to get eaten up were the salami and popcorn chicken. I guess we love meat and cheese. Coco also loved the ciabatta cubes and I couldn’t get enough of the broccoli. Now that I think about it, it is essentially just broccoli and cheese sauce, which I adore. The Koala – creative that he is – recommends a pickle, wrapped in salami and dipped into the fondue.
There is a little online about fondue folklore. The more popular ones are:
- The old wives tale from Switzerland is that a woman should never make fondue during her period or the cheese will separate
- If a woman drops a cube of bread into the fondue, she has to kiss all the men
- If a man drops the bread cube, he has to buy a bottle of wine or give the hostess a kiss
- If you drop the same piece of bread twice, you have to host the next fondue party.
There were plenty of things that had to be fished out of our fondue, but there was no kissing or wine purchasing. We figured that different items could result in different penalties. A dropped broccoli floret for example could require the removal of an item of clothing. I have to add we didn’t actually play this game, we just made up the rules. You sure can jazz up a seemingly innocent evening with a few funny rules. Anyway, it’s easy now to understand how fondue may have been popular in the 1960s and 1970s.
Cheese and wine
Gruyere and Emmentaler are the traditional cheeses for fondue and both have a mild, nutty flavour. These days any melted cheese goes and you’re limited only by your creativity. I’ve even seen recipes using apple cider or beer instead of wine.
Cheese Fondue Tips
Quick fixes for cooking fondue:
Hard fondue = add wine
Soft fondue = add cheese
Stringy fondue = add a squeeze of lemon juice
Separating fondue = sprinkle and stir in sieved cornflour
Cheese Fondue Ideas
If it goes well with cheese and you can get it to bite sized form, you can stick it in a fondue. Everything should be pre-cooked or able to be eaten raw. The cheese fondue will not actually cook anything and should be viewed more as a dip rather than a cooker.
Bakery: baguette, sourdough, ciabatta, pretzels
Potato: tater tots, pom poms, frites, baby potatoes
Pasta: Tortellini, ravioli, gnocchi
Vegetables (fresh or blanched): carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, capsicum, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, asparagus
Meats: cubed ham, prawns, cocktail sausages, meatballs, chicken, smoked chicken, chicken nuggets
I think in place of Swiss cheese and wine we’ll try a smoked cheddar and beer fondue, along with foods like cherry tomatoes, pretzels, tater tots, onion rings, meatballs, chicken nuggets and cocktail sausages. A man’s fondue. A man-due.
Cheese Fondue Recipe
Neuchâteloise is a classic variety of fondue and uses equal parts of Gruyere and Emmentaler.
500 grams (1 pound)cheese, cubed (I used equal amounts of Gruyere and Emmentaler)
1 cup Dry White Wine (I used a pinot gris)
A sprinkle of ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon cornstarch – (sieved to prevent lumps)
1 garlic clove
1 lemon wedge
- Have everything cut up and ready before you start cooking.
- Cut garlic clove in half and rub the cut side over the inside of a saucepan.
- Put on the stove and add the white wine, nutmeg and cornstarch.
- Heat over a low heat and slowly add the cheese cubes while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
- When the cheese has reached a smooth, creamy consistency it is ready to serve. Transfer the fondue blend into your fondue pot and dig in.
Next post: Chocolate fondue!