Oh my God I am in love with Fondue!
It couldn't be more perfect a big pot full of melted cheese and white wine, bread, fresh veggies, a table full of friends...heaven.
There is a place in Berkeley that my kids love called "Fondue Fred's" It is in a crooked little building with terrible decor. The people who own it are Persian not Swiss but they are incredibly nice. The service and quality of the food depend on the night you show up. We go twice a year and leave bloated and happy.
Last week Noah and I had a hankerin' for a little fondue but I didn't feel like driving to the city so we dug out an old fondue pot I have had forever but never once used, and decided to make our own pot-O-cheese.
I am sure there are some great recipes out there but we decided to create our own.
We hit the grocery and picked up a few Swiss cheeses.
We bought a good Gruyere, Emmental and Appenzeller. They were a little steep but they each had there own special quality.
We bought two loaves of good sweet french bread, and a ton of veggies. The best fondue veggies are asparagus, red pepper, mushroom, red potato, broccoli, and green beans.
We had a cheap bottle of white wine in the frig. (not sure were it came from but it worked)
You will also need some nutmeg, green onions, stewed tomatoes, mushrooms, salt and pepper, a little lemon juice and some flour.
I found out a little late that a good fondue pot is a pot that can hold heat and heat evenly. The crappy tin pot that comes with the fondue kit someone got your for Christmas needs to be tossed. Keep the base. I love fancy shops were they sell incredible kitchen stuff but my budget will not support the price tag so I hit Marshall's, TJ's and Ross. They don't have complete sets but they have bits and pieces at great prices.
I bought a little cast iron enamel pot that fit perfectly. It is french, thick and the perfect size. It was missing a lid (which I did not need) so I got it for a steal 9.oo bucks.
So let's get fun-doing...
Grate your cheese you will need about four cups.
Quarter your potato's and boil (not to soft)
Steam your veggies (just a bit)
Cut up your bread into cubes, let them sit out and get a little air. Don't worry about letting them get dry, they are better when they firm up.
Put all this stuff on a pretty platter and basket.
Get out your fondue pot and add the white wine (about a cup and a half)
Warm it slowly adding a little squeeze of lemon.
You don't want to get anything too hot to fast, this is a nice slow process.
In a small cup dissolve two tablespoons of flour and about a half cup of water.
add that to the wine along with the cheese.
Stir slowly letting it melt.
Add a little salt and pepper and nutmeg (to taste).
You want to get this nice and melty and a little bubbly. You can play with this to get it perfect adding a little more wine to thin it or flour to get the cheese to separate better thicken the sauce.
This is were I like to add some chopped green onions, squished up stewed tomatoes and mushrooms. You don't have to add this stuff the cheese is fine the way it is but I really like the way the flavors work adding these ingredients.
At this point everyone should be seated with little plates, fondue spears and all the yummy things you have prepared. Have someone light the candle or Sterno that is in the fondue base
( you want to keep the cheese hot).
Wearing your crown and apron bring out your pot of yummyness and let everyone go at it.
Double dipping is against the rules and remember this stuff is HOT so go easy.
This meal is meant to last forever and it goes best with great conversation and a bottle of good wine.
For desert you can do a chocolate fondue with fruit but we were way too stuffed to think about anything but laying down and enjoying our cheese buzz.