About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Monday, May 08, 2006
The Fondue
Had all my older kids over on the weekend for birthday celebrations.

Last Christmas my older daughter bought us a fondue set. Cool. We had never used it in the interim, not because I don't like fondue, rather I wasn't sure that my wife D would. Ever since I met her, she hasn't liked gruyere cheese. Tastes and smells like vomit she says. That's a tough one to get over, there is no room to manouvere. "Tastes like vomit and smells like old socks eh, suppose you didn't notice the nutty character?"

For me a fondue is not a fondue without gruyere cheese.

Something else D didn't like was red wine. That's quite a bit easier to deal with, for in fact all wine starts out white; squeeze a grape of any colour and the resulting juice is clear. The colour of red wine comes from contact with the grape skins after pressing. I've now seen two programs which showed how easy it is to confuse white and red wine if you are blinfolded, take away the visual cue and all you are left with is taste - you can't taste the colour red. There would be some wines easy to pick, perhaps an Australian Barossa shiraz with plenty of blackberry character and a certain jaminess that is hard to miss, but take a French Beaujolais made from gamay that has minimal skin contact and hardly any tannin due to carbonic or semi carbonic maceration, whereby the wine is fermented before the grapes are even crushed, producing brightly coloured, fruity red wines and you have a whole other story.

What I did to see if D could like red wine, was to slowly work our way up the flavour spectrum. We started with sweeter white wines, then moved on to aromatic whites that had no wood treatment such as riesling and gerwurztraminer. The next step proved problematic, we moved on to wooded whites such as chardonnay and D didn't like the taste of oak, so we meandered around unoaked and lightly oaked wines until she got used to the flavours. Next step was lighter reds such as Beaujolais and some Chiantis made from sangiovese. Then came pinot noir, especially Australian ones as there is a touch of sweetness about them, before arriving at the heavyweights shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. This whole process took more than a year, but at the end D came to appreciate all wines for what they were and now enjoys a good red as much as anybody.

If only getting her to like gruyere was that easy.

I always thought there was a chance, as D likes both goat and sheeps' milk cheeses. Anyone who knows goat cheese will attest there is a lot of aroma associated with them and if the cheese is getting on a bit, a lot of pungency as well. But if someone says they just don't like a certain thing, it is difficult to get them to shift.

Then I discovered comte.

I was standing in my favourite cheese shop bemoaning my poor fortune in having a wife that didn't like a good piece of gruyere when the saint who was serving me and putting up with my complaint, suggested a nice piece of comte. For those not familiar with it, comte is the French version of gruyere but without that spoiled milk odour and a very nutty finish. I tried some and it was lovely, so purchased a piece and took it home for D to try. Excitedly I shaved off a piece and gave it to her. She tasted and pronounced it was okay, faint praise but after six years it was progress. Every time I went to the cheese shop I would purchase some along with the other cheeses we liked and placed them all on the cheese board together without saying anything unless asked. Eventually D started to cut pieces of comte for herself and a silent hallelujah floated heavenward.

So there I was in the cheese shop on Saturday, to purchase cheese for the fondue. I asked for comte, but the assistant explained the wheel wasn't ready yet and all he had was Swiss gruyere. After an explanation of my problem, he suggested a piece of morbier and a piece of tilsit along with some gruyere. That sounded and tasted okay to me so off home I went with the cheese. I explained to D why I had to buy some gruyere and asked if she would like to try some to which she agreed. If she couldn't stand it, there was time to make an additional course for her. She popped some into her mouth and after a bit of a taste pronounced it all right. More hallelujahs went heavenward, actually it wasn't a hallelujah but I'm sure God understood my intention.

Cheese Fondue
(serves 4 to 6)

200 g (7 oz) gruyere cheese, grated
200 g (7 oz) morbier cheese, grated
200 g (7 oz) tilsit cheese, grated
300 ml (10 oz) dry white wine
1 clove garlic, crushed (minced)
juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon corn flour, slaked in water
2 tablespoons kirsch (optional)
grating of nutmeg
fresh ground pepper
1 loaf country bread, cut into 2.5 cm(1") cubes

Place everything except the bread in a thick bottomed pot, place on the stove and slowly bring to a low simmer, stirring all the time. This is the time a fondue can split, so care must be taken, do not boil and constant stirring. It should be the consistency of thick cream, if too thin add more corn flour, if too thick add more wine. Simmer for ten minutes then pour into fondue pot sitting over a burner set to low. Explain to your guests to spear a cube of bread onto their fondue forks and give the fork a good stir in the pot, this is important to keep everything mixed and preventing the cheese from splitting. You also need to explain the penalties for dropping your cube of bread into the pot, traditionally ladies would have to kiss the nearest gentleman and a gentlemen dropping his bread would have to provide the next bottle of wine, which can all lead to interesting places, so some penalties of your own devising might be in order. You may also need to adjust the burner down as the level of fondue drops. Of course the choice of cheeses can vary, raclette and emmenthal are good options. Aromatic dry white wines such as riesling or gerwurztraminer to cut through the richness are good choices. Also extra fresh ground black pepper and caraway seeds in separate bowls handed around make a nice addition. Everyone sprinkles some onto their plate and dips the cheese coated bread into a spice.
 
  posted at 7:52 am
  8 comments



8 Comments:
At 11:40 am, Anonymous kitchen hand said...

That sounds too good. I'd be a dreadful fondue guest, I'd be wanting a big spoon to eat it with.

PS: how do you pronounce Strzlecki (and is that the right spelling?)? I've always said 'strez-lecky'. Is that wrong?

 
At 2:47 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi kitchen hand, you'd be welcome anytime, spoon or not. The way you pronounce it is the correct way - in Australia, but no Polish person would have a clue what you said. My Polish is pretty horrible but it's pronounced along the lines of shh-tra-lets-ski, Kosciuszko is like cosh-chewsh-ko. They say Polish is like the sound of wind and rain, and I'm inclined to agree!

 
At 9:43 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just in time, i was thinking of getting a fondue and trying out C and the kiddies on a little gruyere, (according to C, 'the stinky stuff'). I was going to sweeten the deal and wash out the fondue bowl before the chocolate variety enters, i know the kids will love this one. the worst thing is losing that piece of bread in the bowl, dip, dip, dip.

Gregory

 
At 11:31 pm, Blogger cin said...

talking about pronounciation, be careful about how you choose to say comte othewise it could be very insulting! :-D

 
At 7:52 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi anon (Greg), maybe purchase a little bit of gruyere for the kids before you commit to the fondue, if they don't like it, it's an awful lot of cheese to get through. I bet C drops her bread in on purpose ;-P

Hi cin, know what you mean, I feel bad enough that I don't know how to put all the little accents in on the words.

 
At 8:04 am, Blogger Reb said...

Do you put garlic in? I rub the fondue bowl with cut garlic as well. One of the joys of living in French Canada is the number of fondue restauranrs around. Just like going back to the 70's :)

 
At 9:58 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi Reb, well spotted! There is indeed garlic in it. I've edited the recipe, thanks again.

 
At 5:44 am, Anonymous Billy Burnash said...

Excellent recipe, however if you don't mind, I have a quick suggestion. For a healthier version, you could try substituing chocolate for carob. It certainly dosen't work for everyone, however I'd suggest you give it a shot and see how it goes.
I've been using carob spread from Holy Food Imports (www.holyfoodimports.com) and I have never been dissatisfied for the time I've been a customer of theirs.

 

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