You can’t go to Switzerland and not have a fondue can you? That’s like going to Paris and not having a croissant or a baguette, or even visiting Germany and not having a single sausage (speaking of Sausages, do pop over to my friend’s new site – A Sausage Has Two, a beautiful place full of all things seasonal food – both German and not so!)… Fondue is what the Small Girl requested for her birthday dinner, so it wasn’t like we had that much choice anyway!
Settling for the place she liked the look of best – it was Fasching (Carnival) at the time, and there were people in fancy dress inside – we made the mistake of opting for a Fondue for 4. When I say mistake, I mean it in the nicest possible way. Being forced to eat your own bodyweight in melted cheese when your offspring decide (after several smothered cubes of bread each) that they are full is probably not that much of a hardship looking back.
We do partake in the odd fondue at home from time to time too (something we never indulged in before moving to this part of the world). I blame our overly Bavarian pine kitchen complete with traditional ceramic fire (a kachelofen if you want the correct term). When it’s snowing outside, but inside the fondue starts bubbling, then it’s pretty easy to pretend you in a ski chalet (with the unfortunate realisation that I am usually the chalet maid).
Fondue has to be one of the easiest things to make for a crowd of people too, and you can counterbalance the slightly unhealthy mass of cheese with piles of fresh vegetables, fruit and meats to dip, alongside the traditional bread. The picture at the top shows my haul (including radishes, figs, porcini, chicory, baby carrots, radicchio and baby new potatoes if you are looking for ideas) at the Viktualienmarkt in Munich especially selected for one such soiree (I fried the porcini in butter beforehand – not so healthy!), and alongside this treasure, we piled wooden boards high with grapes, chunks of apples and pears, all manner of pickled onions, gherkins, sliced sausages and smoked ham. I can’t think of a more sociable meal, or a more dangerous one if there’s schnapps involved….
An Authentic Swiss (birthday) Fondue!
Ingredients: (serves 8)
1 pint of dry white wine;
2 tsp lemon juice;
500g grated Emmental;
500g grated Gruyere;
2 tbsp clear Kirsch (if you can find it, otherwise the coloured stuff works well too!);
Freshly ground black pepper, freshly ground nutmeg.
Using a good heavy fondue pot, rub the inside generously with the garlic. Bring the wine and the lemon juice to boil. Lower the heat, add the cheese and stir continuously until melted. Blend the kirsch with the cornflour and add to the fondue pot. Stir through until completely smooth. Add a generous grind of black pepper, and a good pinch of ground nutmeg to the top, and stagger to the table with the pot…