Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Cheese Fondue

The holidays are behind us and I never thought I'd say it but I am tired of sweets. Today, I had a hankering for something more savory and seasonal. Something I would want to eat while curled up in front of a fire in a Tahoe ski cabin. My thoughts turned to last year's ski trip to Chamonix and all that stinky cheese fondue! Chamonix had record low snow fall last year, and so the hightlights of the trip were not skiing down the steep slopes, but instead eating and drinking and enjoying the low elevation of the valley. Even with snow, that would likely be the highlight for me. With German Brick in my arsenal, and a fresh baguette ready to be dipped into a gooey concoction, I set out to make a fondue that might rival that which we devoured in a Chamonix restaurant so many months ago.

There's something about the taste of stinky cheese. It has so much depth, so many layers. As I added the grated cheese to the simmering wine, the flavors seemed to be unlocked in the pot, and the luscious, smooth, earthy smells of the cheese coupled with the acidic and citrus smells of the chardonnay brought me right back to Chamonix. I knew I was on track. We dipped cubed pieces of crusty baguette deep into the finished fondue twisting them on the end of a fork so as to coat each bit of surface area with the liquid cheese. As we continued to devour the cheese-coated bread, we reminisced about our ski trip wishing we were there, not on the slopes, but in the village, eating fondue.

Cheese Fondue

8 ounces Swiss cheese, grated
8 ounces Aged German Brick, grated
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour

1 clove garlic, halved
1 cup dry white wine
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 Tablespoons brandy or dry sherry

French bread cut into cubes for dipping

Using a box grater, grate the cheese onto a sheet of waxed or parchment paper. Sprinkle the 2 Tablespoons of flour on top of the cheese and toss with the cheese to coat.

Rub the halved garlic on the bottom and sides of a medium saucepan or fondue pot. Discard the garlic. Add the wine and heat until simmering. Stir in lemon juice. Stir in the cheese mixture, a handful at a time, allowing the cheese to melt before each addition. Stir in the brandy or dry sherry.

Keep the fondue warm over low heat or pour into a fondue pot kept warm. If the fondue becomes too cool and stiffens, reheat over medium-low heat stirring constantly. Leftover fondue can be saved. Just reheat fondue over medium-low heat. If the fondue separates and becomes oily and chunky, add a small amount of milk and continue to stir, adding more milk if needed, until the fondue is creamy.