It’s bitterly cold, the economy is tanking, and you are wallowing in work. Sounds like time for a little instant gratification.
And what could be more life-affirming than spear-fishing wayward chunks of crusty bread out of a bubbling pot of molten cheese. Yes my fellow gluttons for pleasure, we’re talking about cheese fondue. On first blush, fondue may seem old school — and sure it’s not exactly spa cuisine — but sometimes you’ve just gotta live in the moment.
A satisfying pot of fondue is as easy to make as a grilled cheese sandwich, and the recipe can easily be multiplied for spontaneous gatherings of like-minded martyrs. If you don’t have a fondue set, chances are you can find one at a post-spring thaw garage sale. In the interim, create a makeshift version by propping the pot you use to melt the cheese over a couple of tea candles, then let the games begin. In this environment, if saying (and eating) cheese fondue doesn’t put a smile on your face, nothing will.
115 g Emmental* coarsely grated
(If you do not have a grater, the cheese can be sliced into thin strips.)
115 g Gruyère*, coarsely grated
1 tbsp flour
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 pinch black pepper
3/4 cup (180 ml) any dry white wine
1 garlic clove, cut in half
15 ml kirsch (cherry brandy)
1/2 loaf fresh crusty French, Italian, or sourdough bread
1. Place cheese in a large bowl. Sprinkle flour, nutmeg, and pepper over top, then toss thoroughly so the flour evenly coats the cheese.
2. Cut bread into bite-size chunks with one edge of crust on each bite.
If bread is not bakery-fresh, before cutting it, baptize it with a few sprinkles of water and crisp it up in a pre-heated 350 F oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Heat wine in a medium-sized pot, over medium-high heat, until tiny bubbles begin to rise to the surface.
4. Slowly add cheese to wine, allowing each handful to melt before adding another.
5. When cheese is fully melted, add kirsch.
6. Rub the inside of the fondue pot with the cut side of a garlic clove.
7. Transfer entire mess to the fondue pot and maintain flame hot enough to keep cheese melted but not boiling.
* For the most gratifying results, seek out high-quality imported cheeses.
Yield: 2 servings
Bob Blumer is best known as the creator and host of Surreal Gourmet
and Glutton for Punishment — both seen on Food Network Canada.
Catch him on the web at www.bobblumer.com