Does it count as a guest blog if I'm blogging something I didn't actually cook? I know it can seem kind of unclear how things work around here, but here's a quick rundown: Summer is the bones of the operation. She does 99% of the baking, which ends up getting featured the most for a few reasons- for one thing, baked goods are just so lovely to look at! For another, she lives in a beautiful, colorful, stylish home which makes for a much more attractive background. Better lighting at her house, too. So, how it works is, she'll message me in the morning to tell me what she's baking that day, and I'll swing by her house (only a couple miles away from mine) whenever I get a chance and photograph the food while our kids play. Not a bad arrangement! The only thing that sucks about it is that sometimes, I'll end up photographing a few things in a row and then there's a ton of stuff to get blogged. Plus, she maintains her design blog daily, so it can get to be a bit much. So, tonight when I was hassling her to blog at least one of the 3 things we have backlogged, she told me to go ahead and blog the fondue. Woo hoo!
I can't say I've ever had fondue before. I've received a few fondue pots as gifts, but none of them ever came out of the box. (Sorry, Mom!) I like cheese, but HOLY MOLY! A whole pot full? So, when Summer invited me over for fondue tonight, I agreed so I could take pictures, but I was a little apprehensive about wolfing down so much cheese. I don't think I have to explain what makes fondue fun- it's kitschy, it's goofy, it's extremely versatile, and come on! Long skinny weird fork things! A pot over a flame! Copious amounts of melted cheese!
Because I am a dork, and also because I do not want to say something stupid about whatever I've cooked, I like to look up the foods I'm blogging on wikipedia and do a little reading beforehand. I would feel like a total dum-dum if I said something totally wrong about a certain kind of food, plus- it's fun to learn about foods! If you have a moment, check out the fondue wiki page to catch a little fondue history. I especially like the little bit about fondue "etiquette" at the bottom, "In longstanding Swiss tradition if a nugget of bread is lost in the cheese by a man he buys a bottle of wine and if such a thing happens to befall a woman she kisses the man on her left."
Summer's fondue recipe came from good ol' 101cookbooks.com. She told me she recently dined on an absolutely TO DIE FOR plate of gruyere mac n' cheese at The Victory Bar down the street from her house, which inspired her craving for gruyere fondue.
Classic Cheese Fondue:
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. Gruyere cheese, shredded (or 1/2 lb Gruyere + 1/2 lb Emmental cheese)
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
A splash or two of kirsch (opt)
Toss the cheese with the flour. Rub the interior of a medium saucepan with the peeled garlic. Place over medium heat and add the wine. Bring to a simmer and add the cheese mixture, one handful at a time. Stir in the nutmeg.
Stir over low heat until smooth and cheese is melted and bubbling. Add a splash or two of kirsch (opt). Continue stirring until it starts to bubble just a bit. Transfer the cheese mixture to a fondue pot and you are ready for dipping. Continue to stir frequently.
The possibilities for dipping are endless, but here are some of our highlights: pan-roasted asparagus and zucchini (from the farmer's market, yum!), a sliced warm baguette, apple slices, oven-roasted potatoes, steamed broccoli, and hunks of kielbasa. I would love to dip bits of roasted brussels sprouts, bits of any kind of cured meat (pancetta? sopressata? oh, yes.), grilled chicken, grilled veggies like large spring onion, roasted beets, I could go on and on and on. I'm making myself hungry!
Of course, there are also tons of options for the dip itself, too. Fontina is a nicely melting cheese, and Summer tantalized my tastebuds (haha, ew- that sounds weird, right?) telling me all about a sharp cheddar and dark beer fondue she made awhile ago. Then of course, you can go the chocolate route- though, OH DAMN, I don't know what kind of PMS I'd need to have that would convince me that a big ass pot of melted chocolate was a good idea. I'd probably have to be pregnant, haha.
Just like the tartlettes, fondue is a rad party food, simple to throw together and sure to impress your homies. Now that summer is finally starting to kick off, why the hell not throw a garden party? (Or if you live in a 2 bedroom upstairs joint like me, a dining room party, haha!) Call some of your buddies, pick up a bottle of nice wine and a half-rack of a seasonal summer ale, and make some party food! Invite me, please.