While you're frying up some eggs and bacon, we're cooking up something else: a way to celebrate today's food holiday.
It takes two to fondue - April 11 is National Cheese Fondue Day.
Fondue parties were synonymous with the 1970s, but since then, fondue restaurants have popped up all over the country billing themselves as communal dining experiences that are exciting and fun. Fondue can be just that (if you lose the bell-bottoms), but you certainly don’t have to go out to a fancy restaurant to get it.
Most families are given a fondue set at some point in their lives - be it a wedding or random birthday. If, by some stroke of luck, you actually got something you really wanted instead, fondue sets are almost always available and incredibly affordable at estate and garage sales, just make sure the bottom of the pot isn’t warped or damaged.
While making the fondue mixture does require some technique, it’s not that difficult to master. Fondue is Swiss dish of cheese melted with white wine. Some recipes say to rub the pot with a crushed garlic clove before adding anything, others call for multiple cheeses. You can customize the recipe to suit your taste, which is one of the great things about fondue.
As for the actual cheese, you’ll need a good melting variety. If you’re going to stay true to the dish’s origin, stick with a Swiss, French or Italian melting cheese. Emmental and Gruyère are good Swiss versions, while Beaufort and Fontina represent some of the better options from the latter regions, respectively.
The biggest problem with making any sort of cheese or dairy sauce is that it usually separates. Thankfully, the Swiss realized that tossing the cheese in cornstarch prior to melting would help prevent this.
Cubes of bread are the traditional dipping option, but you don’t have to stick to just that. Bite-sized veggies, crackers and even sausages all make really great dippers. Pick things that will stay on the fondue fork with relative ease – there’s nothing worse than fishing for a rogue piece of broccoli.
Um, not exactly exact. Cheese fondue was invented to a) use up the small bits of cheese before they molded, b) to use up stale bread, for the same purpose, and c) to throw in spices and forms of alcohol, as one tried to disguise the approaching mouldiness of some ingredients, and, in essence, played "clean out the refrigerator".
We now have the month of April. 1 May is a holiday in the Alpenregion, when the cows are led (when possible) from their winter lodgings to the Alm. They feast on the first spring grasses and herbs, and it is reflected in the milk produced. Made into cheese, it is the perfect melting medium, yet only available for a short time (usually until the end of June/middle July, depending on the weather that year). A perfect melting cheese; if at all you have access to some (depending upon the part of the world that you live in), DO choose this.
Remember, there WERE days before supermarkets (and in some places, still are). No food went to waste.
If one does choose to make a cheese fondue, try to buy a good grade cheese. Not necessarily the most expensive, but certainly not the rubber that is sold under the guise of cheese.
I want fondue now. Thanks for the post, my desire for fondue has gone through the roof, I shall go out and buy now.
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