Here’s the skinny… when it comes to fondue, I’ve historically been more of a fon-don’t… mainly because the idea of going somewhere and paying to “cook my own food” seems… well, cheesy. (ha! the first of many puns to come). Last night though I had the pleasure of attending a class on how to make fondue at The Cheese Course, Midtown Miami. The class was led by this amazing cheese expert, Caroline Hostettler and it was held right in the very lovely TCC location. Oh – this was my first time going to a TCC shoppe and I was actually quite impresses. Reminded me of some of the cheese shoppes in northern California.
Anyway back to Caroline and fondue; it was quite the interesting experience… I know I personally have never made fondue at home and never seen the prep, pretty much just been to places that place the pot of cheese at the table or the pot of oil and you go at it, so this ‘education’ opened my eyes.
From prepping the pot to choosing the right combination of cheeses, Caroline was truly gracious in her explanation. I would have never thought of prepping the pot with garlic. Like with any other dish, balance is key and that’s where her expertise are essential.. all about getting the right creamy cheese, with the right tangy cheese, and the right wine or beer to create a harmony of taste and texture…. texture is key to fondue.
One SUPER IMPORTANT THING, never use Emmentaler, what we here know as Swiss cheese….uhm yeah, definitely a fon-don’t. It isn’t really the right consistency for melting so you end up with a stringy, rubbery, glue like substance so while it may be called Swiss cheese, don’t add it to your fondue.
Some other important things
• ALWAYS use a wooden spoon
• Stir your melty goodness in a figure 8 for even stirring
• If you want to be authentic, a simple crusty bread is the true and original vessel for your fondue
• Dry white wine is the traditional companion to fondue, but here I add my 2 cents… Brut or dry champagne or sparkling wine are even better. The bubbles tend to balance out the heaviness of the fondue best, and let’s face it, who doesn’t like bubbles at a table! As Always my recommendation is Domaine Carneros Taittinger, but whatever you fancy is fine as long as it is dry or even Brut.
• Lastly, and this is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT rule… whoever drops the bread in the fondue buys the next bottle of wine/champagne! HA! This only applies if you’re at a restaurant but it would make a great drinking game or hey, have a house party and play strip fondue… I bet NO ONE drops the bread!!!
So after seeing the prep and hearing Caroline’s words of wisdom it was time to try the melty yummymess… (in all the anticipation I did not take a photo of the prepared fondue). So in goes the bread, soaking in this pool of cheesy heaven and time to taste. Mmmmmmm…. Caroline’s recipe, (to follow) of Gruyere and Vacherin Fribourgeois and a wee bit of Kirschwasser really hit all the right notes. Creamy but silky and a wee bit tangy with that hint of garlic, yummyliciousness. So savouring all these note put a smile on my face… as a cheese lover this was brilliant. The recipe and process is über simple so really this is the perfect thing to do at home!!!!! Better yet, it’s the perfect thing for Diva to do at her home and invite me over! Either way I think because of how much fun it was to sort of do as a group and the process of actually making it, how it can truly be a social fun activity, I’m all about Fondue-ing at home!
While it is still winter, I recommend it as the perfect thing for a cold winter night, to hang with friends and gather round for a fun night. Some fruit, apples, pears and perhaps some almonds to accompany the event… and if you have 2 Fondue pots do 2 variations…. have everyone join in the making.
So here’s the simple recipe
BASIC: 2 units of cheese to 1 unit of wine. For 2 people, think 1lb of cheese and 8oz of dry white wine. In this case we used
• 8oz of Gruyere
• 1oz of Kirschwasser mixed with 1teaspoon cornstarch
• 1teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon
(There are variations o this recipe – the Alpine, one made with beer instead of wine and one with blue cheese… if you want them just add a comment and I’ll send ‘em to you)
First rub the inside of your fondue pan with fresh garlic clove halves… you’d be surprised what a difference this makes. If you are not a vampire or just love garlic leave one or 2 clove halves in the pan. Place over medium heat… REALLY important, never go all crazy with the high heat, you’ll burn the cheese and it will just be all icky! Patience is key and really it doesn’t take long anyway. So medium heat. Add your shaved cheeses to the pan along with the dry white wine and start melting. As the cheese melts it is important to stirr, this is the most labor intensive part, but stick with the figure 8 and you’re good to go. When the cheese is melty, add the Kirchwasser and corn starch and lemon mixture then keep stirring till you have a nice creamy consistency. Once this is done it is ready to serve, really takes less than 10 minutes… once on table, it is everyone’s job to keep stirring as they dip, and don’t forget to not drop the bread in the bowl!!! ha! TADA it’s done!
Want to see what happens when you use this recipe:
That’s right… it’s all GONE! Yummmm (Some garlic cloves in there still)
So moral of the story… Fondue, I think great FUN to DO at home!!!! Key elements.. the right cheese from your local cheese store, if you’re in SoFlo The Cheese Course have the experts on the right cheese combos for fondue. The right pot, a Caquelon is the way to go. A great bottle of wine or champagne which you may also pick up at our local Cheese Course, and of course amazing company! (feel free to invite me over)
Tons of stuff coming up in the next few weeks, as I discovered a treasure of yummy things at The Cheese course I’ll probably be using a lot of products from there… oh and I found my favourite Mozzarella, Annabella Creamery Buffalo Mozzarella at every The Cheese Course location. YUM!
By Dickson Bueno – Cre8tiv Dish
Learn more about Caroline at www.qualitycheese.net
Learn more about The Cheese course at www.thecheesecourse.com
Learn more about Annabella Creamery at www.annabellacreamery.com
Learn about my work at www.DicksonBueno.net
Follow my personal blogg at http://dicksonbueno.wordpress.com/
At The Cheese Course, Holidays are a special time to feature what we love the most…..CHEESE! We take pride in bringing over 150 artisanal cheeses from dairy farms all over the world, to all of our 5 South Florida locations. One of our favorite cheese makers is Annabella Creamery which producers buffalo mozzarella made with natural 100 % water buffalo milk. If you are looking to add a yummy dish to your holiday dinner table, take a peek at this delicious recipe featured in Cheese Connoisseur’s December issue.
STUFFED MARINATED MUSHROOMS
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
6 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 oz Fresh Annabella Buffalo Mozzarella, shredded or diced small
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Whisk oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic clove in small bowl to
2. Using a spoon, scrape out gills from mushrooms and place
mushrooms on rimmed baking sheet. Brush marinade over both sides
of mushrooms, arrange hollow side up, and let stand at room
temperature 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 350° F.
4. Mix Mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, shallot, thyme, oregano
and garlic in medium bowl. Spread on mushrooms, leaving 1/2-inch
border around edges.
5. Combine panko, melted butter and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle
evenly on mushrooms. Bake until cheese melts, about 10 minutes.
Finish under the broiler if not yet browned.
*If you are interested in other recipes from Annabella Creamery click on the link below:
Happy Holidays from your friends at The Cheese Course