KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: For Whom the Cheese Melts
Bay Area Bites: culinary rants & raves from bay area foodies and professionals
Previous Posts
Food Writing Roundup: Tea Time
Cook by the Book: Very Cranberry
Links around the Bay
Shuna's Famous Gingerbread
Lassi Love at Dosa
BAB nominated for 2005 Food Blog Award!
Grilled Cheese, Please!
Take 5 with Mario Nocifera
The Farmers' Market in Winter
BAB Guidelines

'Bay Area Bites' is part of KQED's Blog Authors Collaborative. Blog contributors and commentators are solely responsible for their content. If you're interested in writing or contributing to a blog on kqed.org, email us with your idea.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
For Whom the Cheese Melts

Given that I've been reciting a variant of my mother-in-law's classic fondue recipe at least seven times at day at Ye Olde Stanke Cheese Shoppe, I thought it made sense to share it here. With the current rains and the penetrating damp, it is exuberantly fondue season in the Bay Area and nothing keeps the chill off more deliciously than a tangy pot of hot melted cheese.

For the following recipe, I couldn't find Emmenthaler, but Mezzo Secco, Shelburne Cheddar, and Manchego are all perfectly acceptable subs.

Classic Fondue
Serves 4

12 ounces Gruyère, grated
12 ounces Emmenthaler, grated
2 tablespoons flour
1 large clove garlic, minced
12 ounces dry white wine
1 dash freshly grated nutmeg
1 dash cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons Kirsch
Bread and assorted dipping objects, such as apple and pear slices, celery, carrot sticks, walnuts, raw fennel, grapes, bacon, popcorn, fingers, an old boot...

1. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, add the minced garlic and the wine. While you wait for the wine to heat up, combine the grated cheeses in a large bowl and toss with the flour. Heat the wine until bubbles start to break the surface of the liquid. Toss in the first handful of floured cheese and whisk it into the wine. Continue whisking the cheese until it melts completely before adding the next handful.

2. Repeat the process until you've added all the cheese. Continue whisking the cheese until cheesy bubbles pop out on the surface of the molten mass. Add the nutmeg, cayenne, and Kirsch and whisk until they are fully combined.

3. Now for the true test. You don't want the cheese gloppy and wet, you want it thickened enough to form a string when you pull the whisk up from the saucepan. If, while you've been futzing and fiddling with the fondue, your guests haven't impatiently eaten all your carefully cubed bread, poke a cube in the saucepan. It should evenly coat the bread with a smooth, silky layer of cheese. Now taste it. Is it good? Do you need a few more tests? Test away then.

4. When you're finally ready to share your creamy creation, pour the fondue into a heated fondue pot and get ready to select your fondue skewers. In my considerable experience, the green-tipped skewer is the coolest color. The green is followed by the light blue, followed by the yellow, followed by the dark blue, orange, and red. The black, white, and grey tend to be bottom of the fondue corporate ladder and generally get used only by default. You learn these things when you have an older sister.

The second time I made fondue this year, I was short on Mezzo Secco, but had some Clisson ripening stinkily in the fridge. Clisson is an aged, semi-soft goat cheese from Bordeaux with an orangeish rind that has been lovingly rubbed down with Sauternes during the ageing process. Is it a traditional fondue cheese? Probably not. Was I setting myself up for a potential cheesetastrophe? Oh, yeah, but life is so much more interesting when you experiment and mix things up a bit. Plus, kitchen disaster stories? Always hysterical and humbling to share.

When I went to measure out my wine, I discovered that I was all out of my ubiquitous jug of cheap white stuff. I vamped by using some of the dry sparkling white wine (Bonny Doon's Erbaluce di Caluso Spumante) that I was going to be serving alongside the fondue. So now I had done two things that messed with a classic recipe: a weird cheese and bubbly wine. Not that Clisson is weird in and of itself, mind you, I just wasn't entirely sure how it would react to the Gruèyre. It could lump, it could separate, it could...taste really foul. But it didn't, it tasted divine. The combined sharpness of the cheeses brought out a hidden fruitiness in the otherwise bone-dry spumante and I'll tell you what, there wasn't any leftover fondue that night.

There's a lesson in all of that, I think. Variety is the spice of life, and unless you mix things up a bit, life could get pretty flavorless.

Check out Amy and Laura's past posts for more variations on a melted cheese theme.


Blogger Jennifer Maiser said...

I was the older sister -- so I would have gotten the green and convinced my little sister that gray was the best color. ;)

1/12/2006 9:34 PM


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Locate CP Restaurants:
Check, Please! Google Map
KQED Food Sites
Check, Please! Bay Area
Jacques Pépin Celebrates!
Jacques Pépin:
Fast Food My Way
Jacques Pépin:
The Apprentice
Jacques Pépin:
The Complete Pépin
KQED Wine Club
KQED.org Cooking
Weir Cooking in the City
Tasty Food Sites
Chowhound SF
Eat Local Challenge
Edible San Francisco
Food Network
Food Talk
Group Recipes
Hungry Magazine
Leite's Culinaria
Mighty Foods
NPR: Food
Om Organics
Serious Eats
SFGate: Food
SFGate: Wine
SF Station: Restaurants
Slow Food SF
Top Chef
Wikimedia Commons: Food & Drink
Yahoo! Food
Yelp: Reviews
Tangy Food Blogs
101 Cookbooks
A Full Belly
Accidental Hedonist
An Obsession with Food
Anna's Cool Finds
Becks & Posh
Between Meals
Bunny Foot
Butter Pig
Cellar Rat
Chez Pim
Chocolate & Zucchini
Confessions of a
Restaurant Whore
Cooking For Engineers
Cooking with Amy
Cucina Testa Rossa
Culinary Muse
Denise's Kitchen
Eater SF
Feed & Supply
Food Blog S'cool
Food Musings
Food Porn Watch
I'm Mad and I Eat
In Praise of Sardines
Knife's Edge
Life Begins at 30
Love and Cooking
Mental Masala
Moveable Feast
Organic Day
Passionate Eater
San Francisco Gourmet
SF City Eats
Simply Recipes
The Amateur Gourmet
The Ethicurean
The Food Section
The Grub Report
The Petite Pig
The Wine Makers Wife
Vin Divine
Wandering Spoon
Well Fed Network
Word Eater
World on a Plate
Yummy Chow
Search BAB

Eye Candy: Food Photos
BAB on flickr.com
Join Flickr for free and share your photos with the Bay Area Bites and Beyond group pool.
Food Books
The Moosewood Cookbook
by Mollie Katzen
Baking: From My Home to Yours
by Dorie Greenspan
Grand Livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries
by Alain Ducasse, Frederic Robertmison
The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining
by Cheryl Alters Jamison, Bill Jamison
Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Every Day
by Roy Finamore
Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way
by Lorna Sass
The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
by Marcus Samuelsson
Michael Mina: The Cookbook
by Michael Mina, Photographer: Karl Petzktle
What to Eat
by Marion Nestle
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan
Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
by John Scharffenberger, Robert Steinberg
Romancing the Vine: Life, Love, and Transformation in the Vineyards of Barolo
by Alan Tardi
What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea -- Even Water -- Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers
by Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page, Michael Sofronski
The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners
by Matt Lee, Ted Lee
Bread Matters: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own
by Andrew Whitley
Coloring the Seasons: A Cook's Guide
by Allegra McEvedy
All-new Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
by Anne C. Cain
Modern Garde Manger
by Robert B. Garlough
The Spice and Herb Bible
by Ian Hemphill, Kate Hemphill
The Improvisational Cook
by Sally Schneider
Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
by Ann Cooper, Lisa M. Holmes
Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia
by James Oseland
My Life in France
by Julia Child, Alex Prud'Homme
A Passion for Ice Cream: 95 Recipes for Fabulous Desserts
by Emily Luchett, Sheri Giblin (photographer)
Au Pied De Cochon -- The Album
by Martin Picard
Memories of Philippine Kitchens
by Amy Besa, Romy Dorotan
Simple Chinese Cooking
by Kylie Kwong
An Invitation to Indian Cooking
by Madhur Jaffrey
Hungry Planet
by Peter Menzel, Faith D'Aluisio
Sunday Suppers at Lucques : Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table
by Suzanne Goin, Teri Gelber
Simple Soirees: Seasonal Menus for Sensational Dinner Parties
by Peggy Knickerbocker, Christopher Hirsheimer (Photographer)
The Cook's Book
by Jill Norman
Molto Italiano : 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home
by Mario Batali
Nobu Now
by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa
Cheese : A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best
by Max Mccalman, David Gibbons
Bones : Recipes, History, and Lore
by Jennifer McLagan
Whiskey : The Definitive World Guide
by Michael Jackson
The New American Cooking
by Joan Nathan
by Lisa Yockelson
Easy Entertaining: Everything You Need to Know About Having Parties at Home
by Darina Allen
Cooking at De Gustibus: Celebrating 25 Years of Culinary Innovation
by Arlene Feltman Sailhac
Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads
by Richard Bertinet
Chocolate Obsession: Confections and Treats to Create and Savor
by Michael Recchiuti, Fran Gage, Maren Caruso
The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 5,000 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment And Techniques
by David Joachim
Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook
by Susan Spungen
Spices of Life: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Great Health
by Nina Simonds
Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
by Jeffrey Alford, Naomi Duguid
Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light
by Mort Rosenblum
Vegetable Love: A Book for Cooks
by Barbara Kafka, Christopher Styler
A History of Wine in America: From Prohibition to the Present
by Thomas Pinney
Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years Of Food And Art
by Tom Gilliland, Miguel Ravago, Virginia B. Wood
Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South
by Marcie Cohen Ferris
Washoku: Recipes From The Japanese Home Kitchen
by Elizabeth Andoh, Leigh Beisch
Weir Cooking in the City: More than 125 Recipes and Inspiring Ideas for Relaxed Entertaining
by Joanne Weir
Rick Stein's Complete Seafood
by Rick Stein
The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
by Beatrice A. Ojakangas
Serena, Food & Stories: Feeding Friends Every Hour of the Day
by Serena Bass
John Ash: Cooking One on One: Private Lessons in Simple, Contemporary Food from a Master Teacher
by John Ash
The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook: Eating Well for Better Health
by Donald Hensrud, M.D., Jennifer Nelson, R.D. & Mayo Clinic Staff
Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions
by Fernando and Marlene Divina
The Provence Cookbook
by Patricia Wells
Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World
by Gil Marks
Last Chance to Eat: The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World
by Gina Mallet
by Thomas Keller
A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World
by Maggie Glezer
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
by Molly Stevens
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
by Harold McGee
Entertaining: Inspired Menus For Cooking with Family and Friends
by George Dolese
The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore
by Grace Young, Alan Richardson
Cooking New American: How to Cook the Food You Love to Eat
by Fine Cooking Magazine
The Japanese Kitchen: A Book of Essential Ingredients with 200 Authentic Recipes
by Kimiko Barber
Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food: An Opinionated History and More Than 100 Legendary Recipes
by Arthur Schwartz
Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher
by Joan Reardon
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes
by Jeffrey Hamelman
Everyday Dining with Wine
by Andrea Immer
Copyright © 2005-2008 KQED. All rights reserved.