Full disclosure: this blog post has an agenda. I want to return to a simpler time, when families and friends sat around the table, skewering morsels of food and dipping them in cheese. (Or chocolate. I’m not picky.)
Let’s bring back fondue, shall we?
On Friday, a wonderful woman named Ann purchased a vintage fondue pot from my Etsy Shop, and included a note to me that said this:
And I thought, I am looking forward to your fondue party, too, Ann! Not because I’m attending. (She’s in Massachusetts, I’m in Minnesota. Plus, I wasn’t invited.) But from my years of fondue experience, I know this for damn sure:
Fondue parties are always, always fun.
I thought about including a few notes to Ann in the box, but then I thought…maybe you guys want my fondue tips too, eh? So here are my favorite tips for a fun fondue party, plus two of my favorite cheese fondue recipes.
A (very) brief intro to fondue
Fondue is technically a noun, but I also like to use it as a verb, and I’m not sorry. (What are you doing tonight? We’re fonduing! Want to join?)
Fondue refers to a communal pot of melted cheese (and later, chocolate, broth or hot oil) into which guests dip various pieces of bread, vegetables, meats or fruit, depending on the flavor combination. It makes for a delicious dinner and a fabulous good time, and I swear you’ll like it once you try it.
Fondue was trendy in the US in the 60’s and 70’s and there are gorgeous vintage fondue sets all over the secondhand world to prove it. If you ask me, a vintage set is totally the way to go—they are so charming. If you’re lucky, you can pick up a lightly used one at a garage sale or thrift shop, still in its original box, for a great price, or find tons of gorgeous options on Etsy.
10 tips for your next fondue party
- It is still considered a “fondue party” if it’s just you and one other person, and you’re just eating fondue for dinner. Fondue is not just for special occasions, it IS a special occasion.
- If it’s your first time, it’s helpful to not go crazy on dippers. (The first few times I made cheese fondue, I had way too many kinds of dippers, and it took way longer to make everything.) A good rule of thumb is a bowl of bread cubes, one or two veggies and perhaps meat, if you’re a carnivore. (We like cut up brats and Italian sausages.)
- For chocolate fondue, try strawberries, sliced bananas, graham crackers and marshmallows as dippers.
- Little known fact: you don’t typically make the fondue in the fondue pot. Melt the cheese, chocolate or what have you in a regular pot then transfer it to the fondue pot when it’s done.
- If the burner under your fondue pot is too hot, adjust the opening to control how much heat is let out. If it’s still too hot (as would often be the case for chocolate fondue), just use a tea light instead.
- Place a tea towel (or two) under the fondue pot on the table where it’s being served. This will catch drips from a tasty fondue-covered morsel while it is en route from pot to plate.
- In mixed company, you might want to enlist a rule that the fondue fork is only to transfer food to a plate, not to eat (this will minimize the spread of germs). When I fondue with my husband or sister, we ignore this and just use the one utensil.
- You are allowed to make rules for dropping one’s bread in the pot: for example, kiss the person to your left. Take a shot of Kirtsch. Serve the fallen bread to the person on your right.
- White wine or black tea are very commonly drank with fondue, but choose your beverage according to your fondue and your taste.
- If there’s any cheese sauce left over, save it and mix with pasta the next day for a quick macaroni & cheese lunch.
French Cheese Fondue
Recipe modified from Cooking Fondue by Marian Tracy
This recipe is smooth and delicious, and absolutely fascinating—it calls for five egg yolks, and does not look like scrambled eggs when it’s cooked. I was skeptical at first, too, but you’ll see.
- 1 pound fontina cheese, diced or grated (if grating, put it in the freezer for 15 minutes. Since this is a soft cheese, it will grate easier.)
- 1 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 5 egg yolks
- Pinch of white pepper
Put the wine in a pot on medium low heat. When the wine begins to simmer gently, add the butter, cheese, egg yolks and pepper and stir until it’s the thickness of heavy cream. Serve with your choice of bread, vegetables and precooked meat.
Here are a few more classics fondue recipes & favorites:
- Classic Swiss cheese fondue
- Classic chocolate fondue
- Brie and caramelized onion fondue
- Gouda and dutch beer fondue
- Cheddar, beer & garlic fondue