mercredi 25 novembre 2009

Fondue Savoyarde

I just finished une petite soirée with some friends (yes I will be annoying and insert French expressions into this English blog post, because “little evening” isn’t quite as classé), in which we partook of fondue savoyarde, your classic cheese fondue, which happens to come from Savoie, this region of France.

Well, not “happens to come from” because anything with copious amounts of hot cheese plus white wine (i.e. delicious) is from Savoie (Tartiflette and Raclette postings to come).

Fondue is perfect for wintery evenings spent with friends or family. I love a meal that can truly be shared, from one pot. That way everyone is forced to focus on the center—no one can just get up and leave and do something else, or get distracted in talking only to their neighbor. I also love a meal that has to be worked for in some fashion, even as little as sticking the little fork in the cheese and twirling it. It just makes you that much more hungry.

Making fondue is terribly easy, it just requires the table equipment, which may be tricky to find. If you have a portable stove, problem solved. If you don’t, you will have to buy a gel fuel such as Sterno, which comes in round metal tins and use it in conjunction with a fondue pot and stand. If you don’t have a stand, there’s no need to spoil your fondue-fancy, just invent a makeshift one to hold the pot (like I did) in some fashion above the flame with various other grills/trays/pots. I am taking no liability for ruined dinners/scorched tabletops/fires however, on account of not having the proper equipment.

Some fondue recipes call for rubbing the insides of the pot with a garlic clove, I prefer to rub the bread itself. It’s best to use day-old bread, that’s a bit hard and stale, or if you only have fresh bread, throw it in the oven to toast after breaking it into bite-size chunks.

In college I used to work at a Swiss restaurant where fondue was the specialty. I remember a friend going once to the restaurant and ordering the fondue. He was shocked when it came out: “It was just a big pot of cheese, and some bread, and some potatoes!” he complained. “Well,” I said, “that’s . . . what . . . fondue . . . is . . . ? . . .” I still don’t understand what he was complaining about. Usually you don’t even get the potatoes.

Nevertheless, because of this restaurant, I like to serve fondue with roasted diced potatoes, and also a couple plates of vegetables to dip along with the bread. Vegetable ideas: tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, celery, bell peppers, cut into bite-sized chunks. Then your salad is taken care of.

The wine must be a dry white, preferably from the Savoie region for the sake of authenticity. Although no one would know the difference anyways. Also, the kirsch is not totally necessary (but don’t tell anyone here I said that).

Fondue Savoyarde

12 oz. Emmental cheese, grated
12 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated
12 oz. Tomme de Savoie or Beaufort cheese, grated
6 glasses dry white wine
2 Tbsp kirsh liqueur
1 clove garlic
day-old bread

1. Rub the bread with the garlic. If not sufficiently hard, toast the bread first. Cut or tear into bite-sized chunks.
2. Bring the wine to a low boil in a non-stick pot. Add the cheese and stir with a wooden spoon to melt.
3. Turn the heat off and add the kirsch. Sprinkle freshly ground pepper on top.
4. Serve with roasted potatoes and vegetable assortment.

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