Cheese Fondue Recipe

Fondue

[Cheese Fondue at our Neighbors' place]

We are lucky enough to be very good friends with our next-door neighbors. Stéphan and Patricia live on our floor, in the apartment to the right of ours. We met on the night of our housewarming party : we had posted a note to apologize in advance for the noise and music, and to invite everybody over for a drink. We were very happy to have several neighbors show up (which was a very favorable omen in regards to the friendly and village-like atmosphere of the building), and among them, Stéphan and Patricia.

We have grown very fond of each other over time, chatting from window to window, plucking from each other’s aromatic garden, having drinks/coffee/cake/dinner at their place or ours, borrowing books, sharing a wireless high-speed connection, bringing back small gifts from our trips, and just generally having a grand time. We all share a pronounced taste for good food, and Stéphan is a passionate cook too, with his own style – pretty different from mine – and a lot of talent.

So Saturday night, when they invited us over for a fondue savoyarde (cheese fondue), we very happily accepted.

Stéphan had cut up three kinds of good-quality cheese into small cubes : gruyère, beaufort and comté. All three are from Savoie, an area in the French Alps. 200g of cheese per person seems a good number. This he put to melt in his Le Creuset caquelon – a cast iron fondue pot, with 3/4 of a bottle of good dry white wine, salt, pepper and paprika. When all this was melted, he added a small glass of sherry in which he had mixed a teaspoon of cornstarch.

He had also bought two loaves of low-quality baguette (so it would taste day-old in less than a day) that he had cut up into cubes, and we put these on a baking sheet in the oven to dry.

We transferred the caquelon onto the table burner, and set about to feast on bread and cheese, accompanied by a deliciously dressed salad and a bottle of the same wine that was used in the fondue. Each guest gets a special fork with which he dips a cube of bread into the cheese, then transfers it into his plate, waits a few seconds for it to cool, dips it in fleur de sel, and gobbles it up. At the end, when there is only a little cheese left and it has thickened, the tradition is to break an egg into it and prolong the magic.

Fondue makes for a delicious and fun meal. The conversation grows more and more animated as the white wine starts to kick in, the guests bask in cheese-induced happiness, the heat of the table burner adds to the glow in everybody’s face, and it’s just the perfect way to end a chilly day. And up your cholesterol by a good 80%. But hey, how many lives do you get?

  • http://www.murrayhill5.net/blog/inmykitchenblog/ Deb

    Sounds like a fabulous meal and a great time. I’ve not had a fondue that I haven’t found to be too ‘heavy’ but this one that you describe sounds delish. Perhaps it is the addition of wine that makes all the difference. Hmmm, something to try after the baby is born I think.

  • Donna

    Deb is right! What a fantastic looking site.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Deb, we did have a really good time. It’s a great party meal, I hope you try it, but you are right : better wait a little, the baby would get a somewhat tipsy! ;)

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Thanks Donna! It’s good to have you here :), I’m glad you like it!

  • http://www.frog-gras.org Blue

    Would you believe that I was *just* invited to a fondue party this weekend? The strange thing is that I’ve never had fondue… ever. I always thought it was just one of those gifts newly married couples get that collects dust sitting in the top most cabinet, never to be seen again. Grand-children would ask, “What is this dust-covered thing?”

    Anyway… I’m glad theirs turned out so well. Savoyarde… I’m going to have to remember that one.

    Beautiful weblog so far!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Hey Blue!
    What a coincidence! It’s true that most fondue pots hardly ever get used. But I am hoping to borrow our neighbors’ to make a chocolate fondue one of these days. There was a recipe for it on Confessions of a foodie a few days ago : http://www.xanga.com/item.aspx?user=tomsaaristo&tab=weblogs&uid=37471823 . Chocolate fondues are the best!

  • Rebecca

    Hi Clotilde!

    This fondue sounds lovely. I have had fondue at friends’ homes before, but usually it is made with just gruyère. I have had one recipe that uses a combination of gruyère and cheddar (I think?) and calls for beer instead of wine. It’s a very different flavor, also very good!

    I am intrigued by the step you mentioned of dipping your bread or crudite in fleur de sel before eating. I would think that would make the whole bite very salty… but that just shows my ignorance regarding high quality sea salt, I suppose. How does it impact the flavor overall?

    I continue to enjoy your site – I will definitely visit regularly! :)

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Hi Rebecca!
    A cheddar and beer fondue sounds really good too, we’ll have to experiment!
    As for the dipping in salt, you’re quite right, it is a very light-handed dipping we’re talking about here! You sort of hover your piece of cheese above your little pile of fleur de sel, and just a few grains will stick to the gooey cheese. But in any case, this is *not* a low sodium meal! :)

  • http://www.frog-gras.org Blue

    Ah, the fondue party was very good. :) They had both cheese and chocolate. They made theirs out of Irish swiss, but I think I would have prefered something much bolder. We tossed around ideas about goat cheese and so forth, and they completely dismissed my idea of a blue cheese fondue. Good thing is if I made it, they said I could keep it to myself. ;)

    The chocolate fondue was pretty decent, again, I think I would prefered some chocolate liquor in it, but that’s just me. I suggested bread with the chocolate and that was a hit. All in all, a good experience, but again–bolder and more French would have been my preference. :-D

    Anyway, I thought I’d share. It was fun. Good wine buzz.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Hey Blue!
    Thanks for the update, I’m glad your fondue party went well too! As for using different kinds of cheese, it would be interesting to experiment : usually, only “firm” cheeses as gruyere or comté are used, but I’m wondering if it’s only for tradition’s sake, or if there are texture/taste reasons : how would goat cheese react to white wine I wonder? But count me in for the Blue Cheese Fondue Experiment! :)
    In any case, mixing different kinds of cheese always makes for more subtle tastes. But I quite agree : “bolder and more French” IS the way to go. Here, and with life in general! ;)

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