Comforting Cheese Fondue

 It is a chilly morning in Northwest Florida, and today is the annual lighting of the Christmas Tree in Seaside, a few streets from our house. With both kids home from college, it is fun to relive childhood memories and delight in our family tradition of watching the Holiday Parade on 30-A, followed by the tree lighting and then dinner, before they head out the door to meet old friends.

A pot of warm fondue makes a festive and convivial cool weather dish, especially when paired with a glass of crisp white wine (for those over 21 not driving). Here, the combination of piquant Emmentaler with stronger Gruyere makes for a fondue that’s rich and flavorful.

Cheese Fondue

Adapted recipe from The Blender

Ingredients:

6 cloves garlic

2 cups (16 fl. oz.) dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc

2 lb Gruyere cheese, shredded

2 lb. Emmentaler cheese, shredded

2 Tbs. kirsch

1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp. freshly ground white pepper

1 day-old baguettes or equivalent amount of artisanal nut, herb or whole-grain bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

*See note

Preparation:

If using a ceramic fondue pot set the oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C) and put the fondue pot in the oven to warm. If using a metal fondue pot, skip this step. Fill the burner of the fondue pot with denatured alcohol.

Crush the garlic with a garlic press or grate with a grater and put into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or directly into the metal fondue pot. Add the wine and place the pan over high heat. As soon as bubbles form around the edges, after about 2 minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cheeses, a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese melts completely into a smooth, creamy mass. Stir in the kirsch, nutmeg and pepper.

To serve, light the burner of the fondue pot and place it on the table. Pour the hot fondue from the saucepan into the warmed ceramic pot, or transfer the metal fondue pot directly to the burner. Set out fondue forks and pass the bread cubes. Serves 4 to 6.

*Note: I often choose to make a tray of bread cubes, boiled lobster hunks, and slices of fruit for dipping.

Photo: Williams Sonoma

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