Every Christmas Eve, my family makes fondue for dinner. We start off civilized and seated, but before long we’re standing over the fondue pot each trying to claim the best bite. Over the years we’ve perfected the cheeses in the mix to include Gruyère, Appenzeller, and Swiss or Emmentaler, with the ratio being 3:1:1. Ricardo at the Oxbow Cheese Market in Napa selects the cheeses each year, and Beeler Gruyère always plays the starring role. This year we enjoyed with a couple bottles of Zind Humbrecht Pinot d’Alsace, which is rich and honeyed with apricot flavors. FANASTIC with fondue!
The Foodinista’s Fondue
This recipe comes from my paternal grandmother, Esther, who is the most elegant woman I have ever known.
1 garlic clove, halved
1 1/4 cups dry white wine (preferably a bone-dry Chablis)
Juice of half lemon
3 cups grated Gruyère
1 cup grated Emmentaler
1 cup grated Appenzeller
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons kirsch
Dash of ground white pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 large boule French bread cubed (cube 12 hours before serving)
We make this stovetop in a saucepan, and then when finished transfer to a Le Creuset fondue pot, which we set on the table. Rub inside of saucepan with cut garlic clove. Pour in wine and lemon juice and cook over medium heat until bubbly. Turn heat to low and stir in cheeses with a wooden spoon.
In a small bowl, whisk together kirsch, cornstarch, nutmeg and white pepper. Add to cheese mixture and stir to blend. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, until mixture is thick and smooth.
Bring fondue to a simmer and cook, stirring, until thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. (Careful not to let fondue boil). Transfer to fondue pot set over flame. Serve with cubed bread and salad.
And beware of lurking Spaniels…