Monday, January 19, 2009

Fondue is Back

It's official: I am turning into my mother. And it's all because of fondue.

When I was a kid in the '70s, my mother, a city girl who married a meat and potatoes farmer, tried desperately to get her family to join the fondue craze. I remember her having friends over around our old farm kitchen table, elegantly dipping pieces of bread into a big pot of warm cheese and thinking it was the most disgusting supper ever. 

Where were the meat and potatoes? Where were the vegetables? Where was the apple pie? C'mon people. Eventually, my father and I won our battle against fondue, and the fondue pot and silly long forks got shoved somewhere in the far reaches of the old wooden cupboards, never to be seen again.

Alas, today, I must add my aversion to fondue to the long list of things for which I need to apologize. Because here I am, about to buy my first real fondue set - an earthenware pot from Fromagination in Madison, which, by the way, thoroughly sucked me into the fondue craze with their signature fondue mix. (In fact, Fromagination is hosting a fondue lunch every Wednesday in February, with three seating times around the noon hour - call ahead for a reservation). 

Turns out I REALLY like fondue. Apparently it's like a lot like wine -- until you've had a really good version, you don't realize the potential of the medium.

I first discovered exceptional fondue at Roth Kase cheese in Monroe. Roth Kase built a beautiful culinary center a couple of years ago, and I've been lucky enough to be invited to a few of their sit-down fondue lunches with groups of cheese buyers, retailers and media. Through Roth Kase, I've learned the secret to good fondue: quality Gruyere and emmenthaler cheeses, and exceptional kirsch - a clear, dry brandy.

In fact, The Melting Pot, a chain of fondue restaurants, uses Roth Kase cheeses almost exclusively for all of their fondues, but  my favorite one is an Alpine-style fondue made with Grand Cru Gruyere Reserve, Grand Cru Gruyere Surchoix, MezzaLuna Fontina, Pinot Grigio and lemon juice. Serve it with artisan bread, apples, grapes and pears, as well as a little nutmeg and black and white pepper, and voila - I introduce you to heaven.

And so the tradition carries on ... I informed my daughter of our plans to host a fondue dinner with friends and her face contorted to resemble -- I'm just guessing here -- the same face mine must have looked like when I was a kid and my mother served fondue for the first time. Somewhere, my mother is smiling.

7 comments:

Kirstin said...

I like Comte fondue. But I can barely afford it.

Cristie said...

I just inherited my mom's 1970's fondue pot. My childhood fondue memories focus on the electric cords strung like trip wires from the table to the walls. Sorry to say, I don't remember much of the actual dinners. The best fondue I had was at a friend's house. In addition to the cheese fondue, we ate filet mignon dipped in hot, seasoned oil. Yum. We ate so much that we embarassed ourselves. Too good to stop. I'll be back to fondue partying when I trust the kids not to do the limbo under the cords.

Janet said...

Mom's fondue was better than you give her credit for--I still love "welsh rarebit" and it was also on the menu at Colonial Williamsburg when I was there a few years ago. This explains why we never got fondue at home after a while. LOL, Sis

MsMarmitelover said...

Totally love fondue and did even as a kid. I'd say it was very kid friendly food. Interesting to eat as well as tasty.
I wrote a post about Patricia Michelson's fondue workshop here...http://marmitelover.blogspot.com/2008/09/new-rock-and-roll.html
where she recommends cheeses and wines.

Amy said...

It's okay Jeanne, turning into your mom is an okay thing! Your mom was one great lady!! Loved her laugh and her smile. Funny I don't remember her bringing fondue to any church potlucks. LOL

Anonymous said...

February is Fondue Month at Artisanal New York City. Chef Terrance Brennan has created a special fondue for each day of the month like the classic Stilton and Pears on Valentine’s Day. To celebrate our third annual Fondue Month, we have also created a fondue special. With any fondue order in February, we are offering one accompaniment for dipping and a complimentary glass of Jacquere, Apremont 'Les Rocailles' from the Savoie region of France near the Swiss Alps. Two complimentary glasses of wine will accompany The Petite fondue ($24) order, and four complimentary glasses will be served with the Grande fondue ($40).

Martin said...

was first introduced to fondue when I was a cheesemonger, where I was able to create fonude out of whtever cheese I wanted. It was a beautiful time! To me there's nothing like a big pot of hot, stinky melted cheese to signal the start of a good time.

I've posted my recipe for a killer 5-cheese fondue if you care to take a look at it. Let me know what you think!