Do you fondue?.
Another out-of-season dinner; fondue!
I tasted fondue for the very first time not long after I moved to California. Matt, who continues to open my eyes to so many wonderful cuisines, took me to a fabulous little place in Berkeley, Fondue Fred.
The atmosphere alone had me hooked: the restaurant itself was situated in the back of a building, but outside it, and a few other shops, was a courtyard. It looked like something you'd see in 'Old Europe'; paved brick floor, potted trees, lots of candles...and oh, yeah; there was a roof!
But if you didn't look up, you really felt as if you were walking along an old street. It was evening, so the candles and strings of lights (were there really strings of lights, or am I just inserting that?) gave the place a lovely warm glow.
They were pretty busy, so we were seated out in the courtyard. A table, to ourselves. It was perfect.
We had a salad (which we later realized was just too much food), a big pot of bubbly cheese, and lots of bread and vegetables for dipping.
It was brilliant! And I couldn't understand how I'd never experienced fondue before this...why hadn't my family served this?
Full as we were, we decided to 'go for it', and order the dessert fondue, as well (not recommended, by the way...you'll end up waddling to the car). Gorgeous, smooth chocolate, and a big platter of apples, bananas, strawberries, marshmallows, cake...there may have been more, but it's been a few years.
Just wonderful. I loved it.
We wound up getting an inexpensive fondue pot at a Crate & Barrel outlet in Berkeley, on 4th St. It met our needs, although it wasn't very fancy.
Within a year, some dear friends gave us the pot you see above; a serious upgrade!
And then, three years ago, another friend gave us an Emile Henry fondue pot as a wedding gift.
We have three. We don't use them as often as we should, although I can assuage guilt somewhat by stating that at least two of the fondue pots were, until last month, in a storage unit across town.
They're all in the house now, and we intend to get more use from them. Including a triple dessert fondue for a dinner party coming up. Mmm...
So, apparently, we look like people who'd like fondue.
I used a 1966 Gourmet recipe; half the wine called for in the recipe (the one thing I never cared for about fondue was that strong wine flavor), Emmenthaler and Gruyere (about half a pound of each), and cornstarch mixed with Grand Marnier (called for Kirsch, but we were out). And the usual 'rub pan with garlic', of course.
Turned out pretty good; losing half the wine and not using Kirsch actually made it one of the better fondue's we've had in some time.