Cheese Fondue

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Although we have been trying to eat out less and less lately, occationally we just can’t help ourselves. Say, on a Friday evening after a long week when we both want to say to ourselves “well done, you earned this one.” Perhaps the second most frequented place would be Klosters, a German-style pub/fondue joint. What we like most about the joint are the pitchers of mixtas – a mixture of Gallo, a lager style beer, and Moza, a sweet dark beer (and the closest thing to Guinness you can find in the country). Sometimes we go just to have a pitcher on a Saturday evening, but often find ourselves unable to overcome the desire to share a small pot of oozing cheese.

Once — while shopping at a local specialty store which carries nice cured meats, fancy cheeses, and delightful wines — we happened to notice that a block of Gruyere was about a third of the price we pay for fondue at Kloser. We picked up half a pound, along with a selection of others to experiment with flavors, and added fondue to the queue for the weeks meals.

It was a lot simpler than I expected, and the cheese was not fussy at all. Now, we don’t have a fondue pot, because, to be honest, we don’t have space or the money to own an appliance with such limited use. And until we become weekly-fondue makers (and I hope for my waistline’s sake we don’t), I don’t ever plan on having a fondue set. We simply prepared it on our ever faithful electric stove and, once it reached the consistency desired, transfered it to our kitchen table, turned it to barely on (below the “off” and “zero” on the dial), and dug in.

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Heidi Swanson lists many wonderful ideas for dipping, but we served it with what we had: broccoli (blanched), roasted whole green onions (cebollines, a delicacy in Guatemala), fresh baked bread beautifully molded by Héc (pictured right), and sliced apple. We both agreed that apple was our dipper of choice. I’m looking forward to pears going on sale as well. Those will clearly be delicious with a variety of cheeses.

Our next fondue will probably feature blue cheese,or something with more of a kick just to experiment with all the possibilities. Hopefully we can hold off until next month, for our stomachs’ sake.

Cheese Fondue for Two (and some leftovers, If you can restrain yourselves!):

Ingredients:
1/2 lb grated Edam
1/4 lb grated Gruyere
1 tablespoon corn starch (flour works as well)
4 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
1 cup white wine
Nutmeg, freshly grated
Fresh ground black pepper
Brandy

In a 1 quart saucepan, bring the wine and garlic to a simmer. Meanwhile, toss the grated cheese with the flour to coat. When the wine is simmering, reduce to medium heat. Add the cheese one handful at a time, whisking constantly. Once it has melted and turned to a smooth consistency, grate the pepper and nutmeg on top and gently whisk in. Stir in the brandy. Serve immediately.

Directions:
First, prepare all your dippers: your croutons, blanched or roasted veggies. This is to make sure you don’t accidentally overcook your cheese or let it set up too much. When the cheese is ready, you want to be ready to eat!

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