Arrived at my parents’ last night just in time for our Christmas Eve ritual of fondue. My father had selected a careful blend of cheese from Oxbow Cheese Merchants: Beeler Gruyère with almost mushroom nuances, Mt. Vully Swiss for a creamy note and a French Basque cheese called Pilota, which added a nutty flavor. We use a dash of St. George Kirsch, a cherry brandy distilled locally in the Bay Area,mixed with cornstarch and some bone -dry Sauvignon Blanc. The trick is to rub the pot with garlic before melting the cheese. My sister has an uncanny knack for picking perfectly ripe avocados, which she used for a Butter Lettuce and Radish Salad with Tarragon—a perfect counterpoint to the fondue. The acid in the shallot and Champagne vinaigrette cuts through the richness of the fondue, while the Marc Kreydenweiss Lerchenberg Pinot Gris from Alsace complements the cheese blend with its rich pear and hazelnut notes. (Can you tell I’m crazy about this producer!?)
Christmas Eve dinner is always a tough act to follow, but soaking artisanal Italian country bread from Grace Baking in Berkeley overnight in Bud’s Ice Cream Egg Nog—the world’s best commercial eggnog—and farm fresh eggs for French toast on Christmas morning does the trick.