That is the famous saying in Switzerland. Fondue is Switzerland's National dish and was made so by the Swiss Cheese Union. I just read this here and had a big smile spread across my face. Switzerland is synonymous with Alps, Cheese, Chocolates, Watches and of course Swiss Banks. Well Bollywood too, but that is a whole different post. I was lucky to try this national dish at my friends Raajesh and his lovely wife Yvonne's house. These two architects wonderfully spared their long weekend to show me around two Swiss cities- Lucern and Bern. The best guides I must say. Then later invited me to their lovely Swiss Chalet (yes you read that right) to stay the night. Yvonne offered to make me traditional Swiss fondue for dinner. I never really had proper fondue- always some version of it. In America, dipping anything on a long stick in melted edible liquid would be considered fondue. As I always say- I have much much to learn.
Fondue is to be had around a table out of a community pot. Many fun games are played such as if you lose your bread in the cheese- buy a round of drinks for the table or kiss your neighbor.
So here is the real deal. Enjoy! Must try when in Switzerland.
Fondue Cheese- Moitié-moitié (or half 'n half): Gruyère and Fribourg Vacherin
a pinch of nutmeg
Warmed bread cut in chunks for dipping
Sour Kirsch liquor
Some good pepperoni
Some picked baby corn
Drink on the side:
The remaining white wine
And some freshly brewed tea.
In a communal pot or a caquelon (Yvonne had a gorgeous ceramic coated one) throw in some minced garlic, and the fondue cheese. On a low heat, slowly start to break the cheese and let it melt. Stir slowly and continuously as its starts to melt to make sure there are no chunks. Add some white wine to thin its consistency. Also add some herbs or chili flakes for flavor. Yvonne kept it simple.
At the dinner table the caquelon is placed on a spirit lamp so that it does not thicken or burn and slowly stays warm. It is this hot lovely melted cheese that dreams are made of. As you dip your bread using a fondue fork, stir it well in the cheese and do not lose the bread in the cheese.
A long fondue fork is used to pick the bread and dip it in the cheese. Sour Kirsch makes a strangely bitter but sweet delicious dip to soak the bread in. Its alcohol hits the brains right away. The bread dipped in kirsch dipped in the fondue cheese was the strangest, yet a delicious experience. Slowly got very addictive. It was just warm and creamy and the kirsch was bitter and robust.
We had shots of Grappa along with our fondue. Raajesh explained that the Grappa helps cut through all the fat and cheese and helps with digestion. Basically, it helps you sleep better. At the bottom you get a lovely crisp, browned layer of the cheese, called la religieuse (French for the nun), its almost burnt but incredibly delicious like a thin cracker.
Finally green tea- helps keep the cheese liquid that the stomach can digest.
Yvonne made some lovely dessert next. Frozen raspberries which were picked from their garden, heated into a bubbly red sauce on the stove, served with Vanilla icecream and shavings of dark chocolate. Perfect end to the most perfect day in the Swiss Alps. I wondered how they can stay fit with all this cheese, chocolate and milk. Well if you had to climb mountains everyday your body too would need all this fat.
One must take care not to drink cold water..or one will end up with a lump of cheese in the stomach.