There is a kitchen in the chalet you have rented. And in the kitchen, there is a fondue pot. You can share a fondue every evening, without ever eating the same thing! Each valley has its own specific recipe, and each chef adds in their own personal touch. Here are a few ideas for yours…
SWISS OR FRENCH?
In Switzerland alone – the birthplace of the fondue according to Brillat-Savarin – there are several regional varieties. In Fribourg it is made using 100% Vacherin, people from Neuchâtel enjoy Gruyère and Emmental, and those in Central Switzerland like to add hard Sbrinz cheese. As for French fondues, the version from Franche- Comté recommends Comté and nothing else, while the Savoie variety allows for more choice.
THE TRADITIONAL RECIPE
The “true” fondue is made using 40% Beaufort, which gives the dish its creamy texture, 40% Abondance, which offers the fondue scents of alpine flowers, and 20% Emmental or Tomme de Savoie for bolder flavours. Of course, you can also experiment with other regional cheeses.
Dry white wine from the region is also used in the fondue recipe. We recommend an Apremont, a Crépi or a Chignin. The volume used should weigh a little less than half of the cheese. Choose one you like, as according to tradition you should serve the same wine with the meal. O
lder locals say you should rub the inside of the fondue pot with a garlic clove to prevent the ceramic cracking with the heat. This tradition continues today, mostly for the subtle, delicious garlic aroma it offers. Last but not least, you can add a shot of Kirsch at the last minute to bring out the rest of the flavours.
Remember: a fondue should never boil. Leave it on a low heat and stir regularly.
While it has humble beginnings, fondue can be sophisticated. “Simply” add in a little fresh truffle. Cut the truffle into shavings and the cheese into cubes, then put everything into a tightly closed container for between 24 and 48 hours to blend the aromas. While your fondue is heating up, add the truffle shavings a few minutes before plunging in your skewers. This is the perfect time to add the truffle, as the heat does not have enough time to neutralise its flavours.
A LIGHT AS… FONDUE
Replace the bread with a selection of broccoli and cauliflower florets, or perhaps some carrot and celery sticks. And instead of traditional cheeses, heat up some Cancoillotte, a runny cheese made using creamed milk, water, and a little butter.
THE FONDUE POT
This flat-bottomed, flared, little cauldron is designed to be used by several people at once. Choosing the right one is important. Do not mix up a cheese fondue pot with those used for other types of fondue such as Bourguignonne or chocolate, which are not the same shape.
One pot is general enough for between four and six people, and sometimes as many as eight. Some are made in ceramic and decorated with traditional patterns. However, ceramic is not compatible with hotplates, and should only be used on a fondue burner. Traditional pots are made with cast iron and are more solid. Modern pots are made using stainless steel or aluminium, making them lighter and easier to use, they are not as pretty! Electric burners are adapted to all types of fondue, but you miss out on the little flame that will light up your evening.
A generous loaf of farmhouse bread cut into cubes two days before and that smells great even when stale.
You can also serve it with a few skin-on potatoes. The Fromagerie de Belleville restaurant in Les Menuires even offers la matoche, a dish halfway between a fondue and a raclette, in which the cheese melted in the fondue pot is ladled over potatoes and charcuterie.
You can also keep one or two eggs handy for the end of the meal. According to Savoyard tradition, you break them into the bottom of the pot onto the remaining cheese to delight anyone who is still hungry.
WHAT ABOUT PRE-BLENDED CHEESES?
You can source these from a trusted local cheesemonger. Blends prepared by the region’s leading cheesemonger, Joseph Paccard, in Manigod are excellent. But avoid blends with processed cheeses! Bon appetit!