Fun With Fondue: The Perfect Party Accessory

By Fabiana Santana

Fondue has long been regarded a crowd-pleasing celebration. And lucky for us, the ‘70s staple is chic again.

fondueCompany is on the way, but cooking is not on the agenda. No worries single ladies! There is a meal on the menu that is sure to make your party – and you – a hit!

Fondue is a simple, but crowd pleasing, meal that encourages conversation and mingling, so no gaps in gabbing to find your seat or pass the salt. And since everything old is new again, this retro-chic party food is the perfect way to celebrate and evening in with friends. But when you think about it, fondue is more than just melted cheese. And come to think of it, what kind of cheese makes up fondue anyway?

Terrance Brennan is the Chef/Owner of Artisanal Fromagerie, Bristro and Wine Bar in New York City. Recalling a Parisian bistro, Artisanal’s handsome Art-Deco décor is a backdrop for a menu that celebrates cheese as happily as it serves it. Located in the back corner of the dining room is the cheese cave, a temperature and humidity controlled room, where a number of the world’s finest hand crafted cheeses are aged to ideal ripeness and peak flavor.

There is no doubt the man knows cheese. He was named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine in 1995, and is a six-time nominee for Best Chef: New York by the James Beard Foundation. Chef Brennan is the author of Artisanal Cooking: A Chef Shares His Passion for Handcrafting Great Meals at Home. And in 2007, Chef Brennan set the Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Fondue live on NBC’s Today Show. So when we thought about throwing a fondue party, we knew who to call.

Fondue is an easy task, but it’s not as simple as just melting cheese. To get optimum flavor what are the best cheeses to use? Should they be from the same family?

Firmer cheeses are best, but you can also use cheeses that you generally like. Fondue is all about what tastes good to you. They don’t need to be from the same family. Our Artisanal Blend Fondue is a combination of cheeses: Emmenthaler, Vacherin and Comte.

What about if I don’t have a fondue pot?

You can use a heavy-bottomed pot for fondue (as long as you eat it fast enough before it gets cold and hard). Bring it to a medium-high temperature slowly and occasionally swirl it or use a whisk to do figure eight rotations to keep it well mixed. Be sure not to boil the cheese mixture.

How long should I leave the fondue out for – does it have to have a constant heat applied?

If you are using a regular pot at home, you will need to reheat it approximately every 8 minutes. (Fondue pots are equipped with constant heat).

How do you choose a drink? Wine or beer?

It depends upon the type of fondue you’re serving. Cheese fondue is nice with Riesling or Gewurtztraminer. If you’re making a fondue with Stilton then a Sauternes would be perfect. You can also explore other wines such as Cabernet, Malbec, Tempranillo or stick with a more familiar wine such as Chardonnay if you’re comfortable with that. A Gouda fondue would pair wonderfully with a stout.

How much cheese do I melt per person?

I would recommend 3 ounces of cheese per person.

With the addition of breads, cubed meats, potatoes and fruit, fondue can be a satisfying and fun party meal. Here are a couple of delicious recipes.

ARTISANAL CHEESE FONDUE

Serves 6

1 garlic clove, halved

1 cup Sauvignon Blanc

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

3/4 pound rindless Emmentaler, Gruyère, Beaufort, Comté and Appenzeller, coarsely shredded

1-tablespoon cornstarch

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Vigorously rub the garlic clove all over the inside of a fondue pot or medium saucepan; discard the garlic. Add the wine and lemon juice to the saucepan and bring to a boil. In a bowl, toss the shredded cheese with the cornstarch. When the wine boils, gradually add the cheese by the handful, whisking constantly until it is fully melted before adding more. Once all of the cheese has been incorporated, simmer the fondue over moderate heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, with cubes of crusty peasant bread, boiled fingerling potatoes, cornichons or sautéed beef tips.

Beer & Cheese Fondue

8 oz of shredded cheddar cheese

8 oz shredded emmental cheese

1 garlic clove

1 can of beer

2 tablespoons of flour

1 teaspoon of Salt

Pinch of pepper

French bread, diced into cubes.

Mix together all of the ingredients (except bread). 

Melt the mixture and place into a fondue pot or double boiler. It’s ready to serve!

Dip the cubes of bread into the melted mixture and eat.