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When you think fondue, you might think ‘70s après-ski. But the origin of this classic dish goes much further back—by several centuries. It’s truly timeless, and it’s time for a resurgence.
As far as cold-weather comfort food goes, fondue’s got it all. It’s made for sharing—and lingering over—by two or a tableful (you could horde its cheesy goodness all to yourself, of course, but sharing’s much more fun), it’s made with simple, hearty ingredients, and it’s easy to kick up a notch with some non-traditional accompaniments. Because what doesn’t taste better with cheese?
Fondue as we know it today dates back to 1800s France, but there are references to cheese and wine mixtures that go back as far as 725 BC—humans have loved fondue for a really long time! Fondue saw a resurgence in the 1930s when Switzerland declared it their national dish, and again as a party dish in the 1960s and ‘70s in North America.
It’s time it got its due once again.
The classic recipe is made from just a handful of ingredients: a hard cheese like Emmental or Gruyère (or a combination of the two), white wine, and an optional dash of kirsch, plus a crusty loaf of French bread for dunking. You don’t even need a fondue pot—once you’ve warmed the sauce on the stove, a crock pot will keep your cheese warm and melty until the very last dunk.
Broaden Your Dipping Horizons
You don’t have to limit your dipping options to bread, either. Apples and cheese are a classic combo, or try sliced pears or seedless red or green grapes. There are lots of delicious veggie options, including cherry tomatoes, roasted baby potatoes or asparagus, mushrooms (sautéed or raw), or steamed broccoli, cauliflower or green beans. Heck, just about any veggie will do. Even pickled ones like gherkins or onions add a nice tang to a fondue spread.
Or satisfy your carnivore cravings with sliced sausage, cooked bacon or meatballs, roasted pork or beef, cubed ham, or steamed shrimp.
Pair it with white wine or herbal tea and follow it with some fresh pineapple for dessert. Its enzymes will help your tummy break down all that cheese.
But before you clean up, don’t forget the cheesy crust on the bottom of the pot—some say it’s the best part and worth the wait to the very end. Scrape it up and pass it around.
Where to Rendezvous for Fondue
While most people share fondue at home, some restaurants have rejuvenated the classic fondue with creative accompaniments—where you can simply relax in a cozy atmosphere while the chefs do all the work for you. At Deerhurt’s Compass Grill & Lounge you can enjoy a classic-style fondue pot with chorizo, maple-glazed pork belly, grilled apples, sautéed red peppers and a fresh garlic baguette for dipping. Or try the vegetarian fondue with grilled tofu and apples, sautéed red peppers, cauliflower pakora and fresh garlic baguette. Either way, fondue has quickly become one of the most popular items on the Compass fall/winter menu. “It’s fun to share,” says Deerhurst executive chef, Rory Golden. “When we take it out to a table, it’s one of those dishes that makes other people say, ‘wow I’ll have that’.”
So permission granted to indulge yourself. Fondue is the perfect way to bring people together for some casual, comforting, and cheesy fun, whether you eat in or head out.
By Dawn Huddlestone