Ah, fondue. An excuse to eat things covered in cheese. Let’s be real: a pot of cheese? I could hop into it and be happy. Fondue originated, supposedly, in an Alpine kitchen (meaning up in the Swiss Alps, where the amazing melting cheeses live) by a poor farmer who didn’t have anything but stale scraps of bread and a few scraps of cheese in his kitchen. So he melted the different cheeses together with all that was left of his wine and voila! Fondue. My question is, why didn’t he drink the wine? You’re poor, you’re up in the Alps so it’s cold, you have a crappy job, clearly (you’re poor). Seems like simple math to me….but whatever…

So Christina and I decided we’d try to make it. It didn’t sound too complicated, and really, it wasn’t.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 1 cup Sauvignon Blanc

Note: Be careful that your wine isn’t too acidic. The acid in the cheese becomes more pronounced with the wine. Basically, if you like to drink it, you’ll like to eat it. I recommend Sauvignon Blanc because it isn’t too sweet, and in general, it’s a good cooking wine.

  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pound rindless Emmentaler, Gruyère, Beaufort, Comté, Double Gloucester, or Appenzeller, shredded

Note: I’ve listed the above because they’re amazing melting cheeses. Not that a fresh goat cheese won’t work, but I think it would be gross. Cooked, pressed cheeses have a great texture for melting (they are more homogenous and hold less moisture). The more variety of cheeses you use, the more interesting the fondue is. I personally think Gruyère is a must, but try the cheeses you love and see how it turns out. For this recipe, we used a Gruyère and an Emmentaler. I realized that I don’t love the mild Swiss-y flavor of the Emmentaler, so it was missing something for me. You may love it. Remember, it’s all about personal taste.

  • 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 baguette, cut into small pieces for dipping, plus any other items you want to dip.

Note: Before you start the fondue, get your dipping things together. The fondue takes no time, and you will want to serve it immediately. Bread is always good. But you can mix it up and do mushrooms sautéed in garlic and wine, sausages and Bosc pears are supposedly good too.

  • A fondue pot.

Note: There is a lot of debate over whether you need an electric fondue pot. I’d say if you are serving fondue daily, like you run a Melting Pot Restaurant out of your kitchen, then yes. But seriously, who makes fondue that much? Otherwise, don’t waste your money. You can spend it on more cheese. Or new clothes cause you don’t fit into your old ones because of the cheese. Seriously, the ceramic ones with a candle work just fine. I got this one:

My cheesy Fondue Pot (Literally and Figuratively). Hey, it was cheap.

It was only $24.99, and if I had only had that damn coupon I left at home, it would have been $16.99. So the question is: which fondue pot should you have, not if you should have one. Imagine all your friends huddled over a pot, risking being burned by your gas burner, dripping cheese all over your stove that you have to clean up later. I rest my case…

I also found these wooden fondue forks. The website looks a little sketch, but the forks are totally practical for a party. Artisanal uses something like these for their pre-class receptions.

Note: Are these notes irritating you? I feel like they’re kind of important.

To Make the Fondue:

  1. Slice the garlic clove in half and rub it all over the inside of a fondue pot. This helps the cheese not to stick. I don’t know why this works, but it does…
  2. Mix the grated cheese with the cornstarch, coating it fully.
  3. Add the wine and lemon juice to a pan and bring to a boil.
  4. Start adding in the cheese gradually, whisking after you add each handful. Make sure the cheese is melted before adding more. Reduce the heat so you don’t burn the cheese.
  5. Once you’ve added all the cheese, let simmer to thicken a little. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. You can also play around with seasonings to make this a little more interesting.

This recipe makes enough that Christina and I were grossed out, sitting on the couch watching some news show about education and credit card debt. So I’d say this is enough for about 4 – 6 people. (We eat twice our weight in cheese).