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Fondoodling

M and I had a fondue over the weekend.  Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes.  It was the best thing ever. Ever! It was so good that I’ve added two new categories for blog posts, since none of the existing categories quite cut the mustard: ‘awesome’ and ‘cheese’.

I really love my cheese.  Blue, washed-rind, vintage; Bocconcini, Norweigan Ridder, Blue Castello; Feta, Haloumi, Paneer: I love them all. Even the really stinky ones (perhaps especially the really stinky ones).  So a whole meal based around the consumption of this glorious product? I’m all over it like ice cream on a pup’s face.

We borrowed a couple of fondue pots from M’s parents and sent out the call to various like-minded friends, and set the date.  Then we spent multiple days acquiring cheese. Each day I would come back from the shops and M would say “I still don’t think it’s enough cheese”, and so I would return to the shops.  We were still scouring the shops for more cheese about an hour before our friends were due to arrive – apparently there was a city-wide rush on Gruyere, because suddenly it was damn near impossible to get hold of.  As it was, we had acres of cheese left over, so it was all okay.  M had been baking delicious baguettes all day long, so we had four ready to go (as well as a backup loaf in the oven).

In my less-than-extensive experience, one of the most important things to remember when preparing for something like a cheese fondue (or a raclette, if you’re taking that excellent path) is to ensure a good variety of things to dip and eat. If you just have cheese and bread, everyone’s going to be sick to death of the whole affair within twenty minutes.  So we had asparagus, broccoli, M’s baguettes and teeny weeny steamed potatoes, all for dipping.  And then there was a big plate of palate-cleansy-type things: tangy and fresh things that would help offset the general cheesiness of the meal. Gherkins, pickled onions (which I hadn’t tried before – they were nicer than I thought they’d be, although I haven’t the faintest idea what to do with them now), sliced tomato, chopped apple, baby beets and sliced cucumber.   It was a good mix.  There was also a cheese platter on the side, which some people may think is excessive, but who asked them?

The fondue itself was made of this much cheese:

fondue-1.JPG

M worked out that this was somewhere around a kilo of mixed grated cheese: 2 parts Gruyere to 1 part Emmetal and 1 part Cheddar.  (This served fewer people than I’d like to admit.) We melted it all in a huge pot, with a generous splash of dry white wine and some crushed garlic.  When it was all melty and gooey, it was poured into the fondue pots and the meal began.  It was delicious.  Unbelievably delicious.  One of our friends advised the regular consumption of white wine while eating fondue, as she had been advised while in France, on the basis that, if you didn’t, the cheese turned into a big solid ball in the tummy (which I imagine hinders digestion somewhat).  We followed this advice very diligently.

Fondues are an awesome social meal, and really good fun, as well as an excellent opportunity to eat your own weight in cheese. I should warn you, however, that washing up fondue pots is the kind of thing you should use to punish misdemeanours.  It is an incredibly time-consuming job and leads you to ask questions people don’t normally need to ask, such as “how much resolidified cheese can actually fit down the sink before it clogs forever?” and “how did melted cheese get in that?”  Still, worth it, I think.

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