Saturday, 13 October 2012

Cheese Fondue

Mrs Ribeye and I have gone so 70's! It's amazing how fashions change and evolve, but mainly repeat, albeit with a slightly modern twist. A couple of years ago, there was no way that I could visualise buying a fondue set without thinking that I had gone a bit 'Austin Powers', but for some reason, these days, I reckon there is nothing groovier. Baby.

The thing is, I'd never made a fondue before and was a bit concerned about eating quite so much cheese in a meal. I shouldn't have worried. The fondue was quite simply the best thing I have ever eaten IN MY WHOLE LIFE. Where have you been all this time, my cheesy friend?

I word of advice on buying a fondue set: The Le Creuset one (ahhh, Le Creuset...) is about a hundred quid and, of course, is totally fab. But the Ikea one is thirty five quid and ... exactly the same as the Le Creuset one. I mean, exactly. So, the Ikea one it had to be (which gave me a chance to buy a sack of frozen meatballs too. Everyone's a winner).

Since I had never made a fondue before, I had to do a bit of research. The general consensus is that the 'correct' fondue, is a Swiss fondue. So I chose Gruyere and Emmenthal. Apparently I could have chose Vacherin too, if I knew what Vacherin was or where to buy it.

Also, I used brandy and lemon juice instead of the traditional kirsch, because I didn't fancy buying a bottle of kirsch just to make a fondue. My addition of a foil-wrapped triangle of Dairylea was a recommendation from a Swiss food blog, which assured me that this extra touch would help amalgamate all of the other ingredients. I'm not 100% sure how a tiny piece of processed goo is going to make any difference, but who am I to argue?

Fondue is a rich dish and an interesting and totally delicious main course. I served mine with a plate of salami and crudites, alongside the traditional crusty dipping bread. It would also make a cool drinks party snack with cold wine or beer. A quick note on the bread: Make sure that each piece has a piece of crust attached to it for secure spearing - otherwise, after a few goes, the fondue will end up more like a bread sauce.

Cost-wise, this one is great value. £2 per generous serving for a luxurious and trendy dish is a 1970's priced bargain.

My friend Ophelia, who is Swiss, has promised me a 'fondue cook-off'. But to be honest, she's gonna lose.

Serves 4


350ml white wine
50ml brandy
25ml lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, whole
500g mixed cheeses, grated (I used Gruyere and Emmenthal)
2 tablepoons of flour
1 piece of spreadable cheese, like Dairylea or Laughing Cow
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and black pepper
Crusty bread for dipping

In a fondue pot or casserole on the hob turned up to a high heat, cook the wine, brandy lemon juice and the garlic until the liquid has reduced by half. Turn the hob to medium and discard the garlic, then add the cheese and flour gradually, until everything is smoothly incorporated. Mix in the cheese spread, paprika, nutmeg and seasoning. Remove the fondue from the hob and transfer to a low burner. Eat the fondue by dipping the bread into the sauce and periodically stirring it to keep it lump-free and avoid burning.

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