Think fondue is as out-dated as bell-bottomed jeans? Dust off your fondue set, and check out these different takes on the Swiss classic. By Trish Gallagher.
When I was out shopping in my local vintage store the other day (St Vinnies) I came across a cooking implement that I haven't seen for many years and wondered why every household doesn't have one of these a fondue set.
Thinking about it, every household probably does have one of these, at least in the back of mum or grandma's linen cupboard. If I were you, I would be running, walking or crawling to their house to get it because the fondue is about to make a massive comeback.
The fondue originated in 17th century Switzerland, no one knows who invented it but I like to think that ol' Hans fell asleep by the fire with a bowl of cheese and a glass of wine and after a restless night woke up in the morning with a bubbling fondue by his side.
The dish really came to the fore in the 1970s when folks were slipping out of saunas, dropping their keys into a fish bowl and dipping into melted cheese pots all across the globe. They have had resurgences over the decades and now they are back again.
You will be able to find fondue sets in just about any second hand shop especially if you want an authentic feel. But most homeware and department stores also stock them. Remember when you purchase: ceramic and cast iron are good for cheese fondues, stainless steel varieties are better for hot stocks (think Korean peppered hot pot) and flavoured oils.
You cannot go past a classic Swiss combo of Emmenthal and Gruyere, both named after their respective towns, but be prepared to have your kitchen smell like a gym locker room at 6pm it's a bit stinky. A good cheese should be stinky though; it should be the durian of the dairy world.
Bread is traditional for dipping, but florets of cauliflower and broccoli, crispy potato cubes and sliced kransky are also a great accompaniment to cheese.
But this is 2012! Try different combinations and modernise this classic dish. Mini sauna towels and distinctive key rings on arrival are optional.
Fondue doesn't have to be all about cheese (which should make your lactose intolerant friends happy). Spicy chicken skewers can be dipped into a bubbling pot of nutty satay sauce for a different starter to an Indonesian table.
As part of your tapas spread, a pot of melted manchengo cheese with finely diced green and red chilli added can be served with chorizo, olives and little garlic mushrooms. Ole!
In your fondue pot heat some strong black coffee with a dash of amaretto, serve with Italian savioardi biscuits and a big bowl of whipped cream for a twist on tiramisu for dessert.
Of course chocolate! Did you think I would forget? I defy you to find someone who doesn't like melted chocolate, but use your imagination. A platter full of roasted pears and winter berries works wonderfully with a smooth organic white chocolate or warmed custard. If dark chocolate is more your thing, a splash of rum or whisky wouldn't go astray. Serve with mini cinnamon doughnuts.
Here is a simple chocolate fondue recipe.
If you would like to try before you buy, here is a list of venues currently serving fondue around Australia:
Des Alpes, Brisbane
Swiss Club Vic, Melbourne
CJ's French & Fondue Restaurant, Sydney
Barolo on Beaufort, Perth