I love my husband, I love restaurants, but I hate going out to eat on Valentine’s Day mostly because I dread having to inhale the cloying smog of 50-odd competing perfumes in an enclosed space. It seems that February 14 unleashes the inner spritzer in so many of us. This year, we’re just not doing it and instead are staying in for a cozy night of fondue. On Monday I plan to hit the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills to pick out some Gruyère, Appenzeller and Emmentaler to make my grandmother’s recipe for cheese fondue. It’s a show stopper, just like the woman herself! Everyone in my family makes this fondue, and we all have the same fondue pot in different colors. Mine is in a fabulous discontinued flame orange—a present from our friends Booth and Adam. But the cherry red pictured above from Le Creuset would make a great gift for your Valentine, don’t you think?
Posts Tagged ‘Fondue’
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…
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.