Dispensing Happiness

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.-Elsa Schiapirelli

That's me, the magical good cook.

Borrowing from my friend Dexygus, I've created my own food blog.

Read of my exploits in the kitchen! Salivate over the descriptions of fabulous desserts and savory meals I've concocted!

No, seriously...go ahead. It'll make my day.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

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.

6 Thoughts for food:

At 4:58 AM, Blogger Niki said...

I love fondue, and I agree with the overly winey taste. I'd like to make my own, and flavour it to my specifications. I wish we had a fondue restaurant here; I'd love to have an evening of fondue.
There's a pretty standard Aussie joke about bad weddings presents that always uses '3 fondue sets' as the reason for registering with a department store for gifts!

At 12:13 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Really? Here, it used to be 'three toasters'...

It's really simple to make your own, you should give it a try! Especially as there are so many amazing recipes out there.

At 12:53 PM, Blogger Kevin said...


Half the wine and no kirsch? Jeez!

I used to have a set of kirsch pots. These were small terra-cotta bowls that held around 1.5 oz of kirsch. You dipped your bread briefly in the kirsch then in the fondue. The advantage being that the alchohol in the kirsch didn't boil boil off.

Now _that's_ was fondue.

At 1:29 PM, Blogger eat stuff said...

You can make a really nice stock and steambot instead of fondue for a lighter version too :)

The main reason would be so that you dont feel so bad having the chocolate fondue for desert!

At 1:43 PM, Blogger Cate said...

I LOVE fondue! Maybe a fondue party is on the horizon? I actually bought 6 individual butter warmers years ago and use them as individual fondue pots for each guest - makes things easier sometimes. :)

At 3:10 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Kevin; Matt and I just don't like the taste of alcohol. Neither of us drink, and that's the main reason. We just don't like the way anything...wine, beer, hard liquors...taste.
So for us, skipping all that makes for a pleasant fondue!

Clare eats; I've heard of using a broth before. Of course, I'm a vegetarian, and veggie broths lack the richness of a beef or other meat-based stock.
Still, it's a good way to save some calories for all the chocolate!

Sweetnicks; that's a really clever idea!
I think fondue parties are great. I just don't know if everyone else would be willing to eat such warm foods when it's 88 degrees outside!


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