If you come visit, expect to eat fondue. Fondue restaurants are pervasive and even a non-cook like me can make fondue at home. Our friends Pitbull and TNT came to visit and we had a fondue extravagaza. Here’s how we made it:
- Cut the bread into cubes of less than an inch. Some people like the bread a bit dry (to better absorb the cheese) and will use day old bread and/or cut it a few hours ahead.
- Split a piece of garlic in two. Rub the inside of the fondue pot it.
- Pour a bit of white wine (preferably Swiss, it should be dry not sweet) in the bottom of the pot.
- Pour the shredded cheese (see below for which ones) in the pot and stir.
- Add more wine, bit by bit to ensure a smooth texture. I find it helpful to leave a bit of cheese in reserve to add if the mixture becomes a bit thin and/or runny.
- Stir the mixture so that the cheese melts and cooks evenly.
- While you want the cheese to melt, you don’t want it to burn. Check the temperature to make sure that it is not too hot.
- Raise your glass, toast and begin eating.
- While eating, adjust the heat so that the cheese stays at a constant temperature and does not overcook.
Eating fondue is easy. The largest problem associated with eating fondue is overeating. Put a small piece of bread on the fork/dipper/fondue skewer, stir it in the cheese and enjoy. Although I can’t help you with the overeating part, here are some tips and etiquette for eating fondue:
- Even though you will want to pop the cheesy goodness right into your mouth, try to be patient and let the cheese drip/cool for a second.
- To avoid sharing too many germs, people avoid touching their mouths to the fork/dipper/fondue skewer.
- Drink only white wine or room temperature water while eating fondue to avoid indigestion. You will thank yourself if you do this and curse yourself if you don’t.
- If you lose your bread in the cheese, custom dictates that you buy the next round of drinks or be thrown in the lake (Lac Leman/Lake Geneva). Given Geneva’s expensive prices, you may be in for a dunking in Geneva’s approximately 5 degree waters (41 Fahrenheit). You were warned.
- La religieuse (French for the nun) refers to the well-cooked remnants of cheese that stick to the bottom of the pot. They are scraped out and eaten. Yum.
The Swiss debate the best type of cheese fondue. The most popular types include (in order of popularity):
- Moitié-moitié (or half ‘n half): a 50/50 mixture of Gruyère and Fribourg vacherin cheeses.
- Neuchâteloise: a mixture of Gruyère and Emmental cheeses.
- Vaudoise: Gruyère.
- Fribourgeoise: This uses Fribourg vacherin cheese, and often potatoes are dipped instead of bread.
- Innerschweiz: Gruyère, Emmental and sbrinz.
- Appenzeller: Appenzeller cheese with cream added.
Sometimes, a shot of Kirsh, tomatoes, peppers (red and green), or mushrooms will be placed in the cheese. Of course, the French (Comté savoyard, Beaufort, and Emmental or just different types of Comté) and Italians (Fontina, milk, eggs and truffles) have their own versions.
There is, apparently, a much larger world of fondue out there, just waiting to be discovered (and eaten). Other types of fondue include:
- Chocolate fondue, where pieces of fruit are dipped into a melted chocolate mixture,
- Fondue bourguignonne, where pieces of meat are cooked in hot oil
- Fondue chinoise, a hot pot, where pieces of meat are cooked in broth.
Although it will be burdensome, we will do the research and report back.