August 1st is Swiss National day. Now I know what you’re thinking. Why on earth would you give a rat’s behind, about Switzerland’s national day. Well. Cheese. That’s why.
This time last year, I was invited to my awesome friend’s annual fondue party. And now that I’ve been a part of it, I cannot for the life of me understand why, in all my 23 half-swiss years of life, I have not made this an annual tradition of my own. So now it is.
While said friend’s may have included an unfathomable amount of cheese (shelf-clearing, car-breaking, year-long-supply-making, amounts of cheese), regrettably, mine was somewhat less impressive. But not any less tasty, let me assure you. In fact, it may even have surpassed his. But ssh don’t tell him.
So now that you are aware you have been missing out on the best National Day of the year – a National Day to trump all National Days – here are the ground rules, Fondue Etiquette, if you will:
1. You will need: a heavy ceramic pot with a table stand and gas flame.
2. Fondue should be accompanied by white wine, tea, or both – your digestion can thank me later.
3. Sourdough, dark/whole wheat breads go best.
4. Crack fresh pepper onto your plate before cheese-dipping.
5. Always eat accompanied by cornichons.
6. When cheese-dipping your bread, you must move your mini pitchfork in large circular motions so as to ensure cheese is neither separating, nor burning.
7. Should you lose your bread in the fondue pot, owe the neighbour to your left a kiss.
8. After 3 bread losses, promptly ask your bread-loser to leave.
9. For an all out Fondue Party menu, courses as follows: start with a cheese platter-esque appetizer, followed by a cheese fondue main, and finish with a dark chocolate fondue dessert.
[I also just want to apologise for the lack of ‘finished product’ shots. It got eaten before I could style, stand on my stool, and shoot… Need any more convincing to throw a Fondue Party in the height of summer?]
nibs etc. original recipe. Serves 2.
200g Vacherin (or Roblochon)
70-80ml Dry White Wine
1 Garlic Clove
1 Shot Kirsch
Pepper, Cornichons, Bread Loaf to serve.
Remove rinds, (saving for later use – freezing works – recipes to come), and grate both cheeses, into separate bowls.
Smash and peel your garlic. Then rub all over the base and sides of your ceramic pot, and leave it there.
Place the pot over medium heat, and into it your wine and kirsch.
When liquid is hot but not yet simmering, remove your garlic with a slotted spoon, and add in your Gruyère (hard cheese). As it begins to melt, add in your Vacherin (soft cheese). Allow to melt, stirring every now and then allowing to melt evenly, over medium heat for 5-10 minutes.
When just about ready to serve, increase the heat to medium-high, bringing your cheese to a gentle bubble. It should be of smooth, consistency, thick but easily pourable. Fear not if the cheese oils start to separate – this is where the circular bread dipping motion comes in.
To serve, turn on your gas flame, over which place your stand, on top of which your pot will sit. Serve.
Appetizer with dried/cured meats.
With a salad before the cheese.
For a more modern twist, feel free to dip anything from chips (French fries), to veggie sticks, and apple.
Be sure to scrape off your ‘religieuse’ (aka cheese crust found when the bottom of the fondue is reached) !