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Your most memorable fondue? Why?

Here on the best coast Whole Foods had a holiday special and now I am looking for ways to use a lot of Gruyere.

It's interesting to see that a lot of recipe websites think that Fontina is also Swiss, when the Truth is that there is Swiss knockoff Fontina (with red wax rind) but the real stuff is from the Italian side of the mountains and has a natural rind, and arguably there's French versions as well.

Anyhoo, what's your favorite fondue memory, or favorite recipe - what blend of which cheeses and spirits and so on?

My own contrarian temperament leads me to say that my favorite fondue is not fondue but queso fundido (aka flameado) made here in the former northwest regions of Mexico that are now known as the American Southwest.

It's the kind of social dining dish that may never recover from our current predicament, sadly.

Posted by
11905 posts

As someone who is both gluten-sensitive and lactose intolerant, I am not a fan of fondue. But as a repeated traveler to Switzerland, I do have a favorite fondue memory. That would be when we were in Bettmeralp with 8 other family members, staying at a small hotel in the half-board plan. As many places in Switzerland are wont to do, they gave us fondue one night as a "Special treat", although no self-respecting Swiss person would eat fondue in summertime. I just decided it was a good night to take a break from eating, but the teens among us ate heartily of the fondue and then went out for pizza after.

I do know how it is supposed to be made: with two melting cheeses ( Gruyere and one other), a rub of garlic on the pot, white wine, and a splash of kirsch.

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20130212-tracing-fondues-mysterious-origins

If you have extra Gruyere, I think the highest and best use for that cheese is artichoke dip made from a local Seattle recipe. My husband regards it as a dietary staple and makes it on a regular basis. I will go look forvthe recipe if you are interested.

Posted by
153 posts

My most memorable fondue didn't involve cheese at all. it was at a small restaurant west of Cluny in France.

Fondue bourguignonne involves dipping tender chunks of raw beef and vegetables into hot oil, cooking it at the tabletop as you go.

Posted by
1084 posts

My most memorable fondue was on the RS tour of eastern France. At the time it was called the villages and vineyards of eastern France. We had a group dinner in Chamonix. The guide selected a restaurant that she knew well. We had a feast of a meal. Raclette, fondue, charcuterie platter and red wine. Everything just went well together. The melted cheese from the raclette on the potatoes. The delicious red wine. Everyone was having a good time. I happened to be seated at a table with the guide and driver. Part way through the meal the driver suggested that I pave myself. He said you want to taste the cheese on bottom of the fondue pot. As it’s heated the cheese down there sort of carmelizes a bit and has a different flavor. Incredible meal.

Posted by
2737 posts

Like Sammy, my most memorable fondue was a fondue bourguignon; but not for the same reason. I decided to make it for dinner to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. Spent hours preparing it and all the accompaniments, and setting a beautiful table. Then, just as we were sitting down, DH accidentally jostled the table, spilling the fuel in the container and setting the table on fire. The kitchen extinguisher quickly put out the flames, but the dinner was ruined and I was in tears. So, yeah - memorable even 45 years later. Lol.

Posted by
1752 posts

@CJean - I just logged in to tell my fondue story, only to find you had beaten me! New Year's Eve, 1990s, meticulous preparation of numerous dipping sauces, cubed chicken, veggies. Hot fondue pot with oil. Quick jostle by husband and BAM! - a massive burst of flame and the table was ablaze. No casualties save for the table and we still laugh about it 30 years later.

Posted by
1599 posts

Nobody has mentioned a chocolate fondue yet. I've never been to a restaurant for one, but my wife will occasionally break out the fondue pots and start with a cheese fondue mixed with some kind of wine, but then she makes a homemade pound cake, slices up other things like strawberries and bananas and makes a chocolate fondue. I don't have the recipe but I believe a melted down Toblerone bar is the star attraction.

Posted by
153 posts

To those responding with comments about oil-based fondue spilling and bursting into flame...

I didn't have that experience, but the description takes me back to my high school days when I had a pair of brown shoes of a particular, somewhat unusual color. I never could find polish that matched the color, but found two polishes that were similar. If only, I thought to my adolescent self, I could mix the two and make a new polish; a better polish; one that matched the color of those shoes.

And so I did it. I melted a sample of the first polish in a metal bowl over an alcohol flame (I dabbled then in chemistry), then I added a reasonable proportion of the second polish, which melted as well.

Then, I proceeded to accidentally knock over the whole contraption, which set the desktop in my bedroom on fire and threatened to set the curtains on the window aflame as well. If you didn't know it, melted shoe polish is very, very flammable.

That could have burned down the west end of my parents' house, but I was able to extinguish the conflagration with a combination of a blanket and a liberal application of teenage adrenaline.

There was no evidence of the event but for a scorched desktop, which -- for some reason -- my parents never asked me about.

And that was fine by me.

The shoes remained unpolished.

Posted by
2737 posts

Oooooo, Alan, your mention of chocolate fondue set my salivary glands into overdrive. It's been years, but we've had a couple of these in restaurants. The one I really remember had some type of alcohol added to the dark chocolate (maybe a brandy?) I love dipping just about any acidic type of fruit, but pineapple is my favorite. Outstanding were the little meringues, just big enough for 2 bites.

Posted by
1512 posts

These are good stories, but it's still surprising how often responses go in directions I didn't expect here on the RS forum --
I was looking for stories of cozy camaraderie and convivial bellywarming, not domestic strife and disasters narrowly averted.

And it's my own fault for not putting the word 'cheese' in the title, so the oil and chocolate contributions are within bounds.
For chocolate fondue dipping, don't forget pretzel sticks and donut bites as well as fruit. Yum.

Posted by
1190 posts

Val, sam and jean you are escalating my phobia of flammable liquids.... but none of the stories I'm remembering are fondue related, so I will refrain.

I just found out recently that my sister (14 years older than me, so we really didn't grow up together) has the exact same phobia, and this doesn't spring from any horrible familial tragedy.

Any volunteers want to come over and engage us in some intensive family therapy? I'll melt some chocolate for you on my electric stove .

Posted by
6098 posts

Favorite fondue memory was in Grindelwald, Switzerland. The fondue was served with one food to dip into the fondue- small boiled potatoes and it was the best way to eat fondue I have ever eaten. Incredibly delicious!

Posted by
847 posts

I don't know any recipes, but we love doing fondue. Our most memorable was having fondue at a restaurant in Murren in the Swiss Alps!

Posted by
577 posts

I first had cheese fondue in the village of Gruyere, where it supposedly originated. I was studying in Fribourg, Switzerland for a Junior Year Abroad. Fribourg is about 15 miles north of Gruyere.
I made it at home a few times over the years, but my pot broke a while ago.
In 2018 we did the RS My Way Alps tour and had cheese fondue in Wengen, Chamonix, and in Fribourg where we stayed for a few days after the tour. I bought another fondue pot and I've made it several times each winter since. I use the Cheese Fondue recipe on www.epicurious.com, and I comes out really well. They suggest other things to serve with it, and we enjoy small boiled potatoes, cubes of ham, apples, and pears. We usually have a Sancerre wine with it, but I remember in Switzerland way back when there was a dry German wine that was supposed to pair well with it. Anybody know what that might be?

Posted by
661 posts

Avi,

My most memorable fondue meal was last year with my family around my dining table. We had a fabulous spread of steak and chicken with sauces, Swiss cheese and dippers including pretzels, and chocolate for dessert with any dippers you could possibly think of including gummy worms. Granddaughters loved them and the marshmallows the best. I am missing our gatherings!

Posted by
1512 posts

Linda -- now that's cozy and convivial, thanks!
The rest of you -- was that so hard? Dish up a little warmth, whydoncha?

Posted by
590 posts

My new favorite melting cheese memory is from Christmas Eve 2020. A Camembert cheese in its wooden box. 350 F oven. Replace the paper on the cheese with parchment, leaving the top of the cheese uncovered, and return the cheese to the box. Score the top rind in a grid pattern, scatter fresh thyme leaves and drizzle a tiny bit of honey in a few of the cuts. Place on cookie sheet for about 30 minutes til the cheese is melted. Dip in pieces of baguette, sip champagne, dream of future travel. Heaven.

Reminded me of the Mont d’Or cheeses fixed similarly in the wintertime in France.

Posted by
661 posts

Va in va

At our family fondue night, I served a dry Riesling and it paired well with most of the food. Good on you for buying another pot and creating your own fondue event.

Barbara - sounds scrumptious

Posted by
14210 posts

My very first fondue was in Jerusalem. A few years later I learned that a slightly sweet white wine was the perfect pairing when I had an excellent fondue at a Swiss restaurant in Leicester Square, and oh my, the crust on the bottom of the pan is the best party of the meal. Most recent was "real" Swiss fondue - in Lauterbrunnen on an RS tour.

I also had beef fondue once - in Tel Aviv - with a French companion who taught me how to do it.

Fondue is lots of fun for a dinner party. I love the idea of boiled potatoes, I've used veggies (seems healthier) like cauliflower and broccoli. The hands-down fave is chocolate fondue with fresh fruit.

Posted by
1656 posts

The only fondue I have had was at a chain restaurant called The Melting Pot with my BFF. It was surprisingly good. I bought a fondue pot and tried to recreate the meal at home, but nothing got hot enough and the food just did not seem to cook enough. I only tried it the one time and have not tried it since. I hate to cook anyways!

Posted by
6052 posts

The trick is to not try and do all the cooking in the fondue.
Get it all going, cheese melting or oil heating, on a normal cooker and then just use the fondue to keep it warm whilst you eat.

Posted by
1512 posts

@Tammy I've been to more than one Melting Pot and agree that they were tasty - esp one in the DC metro area, but I forget if it was in VA or MD or where....

Update regarding the Gruyere -- I think in my case the Fontina may be the better ingredient in the mix. Made a note to myself to study further.

Posted by
279 posts

I have not had fondue in Europe, yet.

The first time I had fondue was at my grandparents after they came back from living there for a few years. I remember being fascinated with it as I was about 10 years old, if that.

There was a very well known German restaurant in Portland, OR called The Rheinlander, which operated for over 50 years. I have a cheese fondue recipe from them and have made it a few times, but just in a tiny crock pot as I took it to potlucks. I have not made that in years, so might need to do that again soon!

Posted by
661 posts

The first experience with Swiss fondue was in Lucerne. There were just two of us and of course, when in Switzerland, have fondue. Before we went to the restaurant our hotel owner told us, drink only wine because water, beer or soda will cause you a problem with all that cheese in your stomach. I thought that strange, but noticed at the restaurant, many Swiss were following that rule, while tourists went for beer, sodas, etc. We stuck with the wine. Good decision. Second was the quantity of food. Bread, potatoes and vegetables far more than two people needed. Finally, the check. 88 dollars!!! It was delicious though and satisfied the experience of fondue in Switzerland.

Posted by
2643 posts

Sometimes I think I live in an alternate universe. My favorite fondue memories are from the 1970's in college. We'd set up on the oriental rug of our common room and put melted cheese and spices on the fresh bread and drink wine. Then hit a party somewhere... I don't think I've had a fondue since college. LOL I only added the oriental rug to add color to the picture.

Posted by
212 posts

My favorite fondue and one of the most memorable was at an outdoor cafe in Geneva. Instead of wine, the base was apple juice which added a nice sweetness.

Posted by
20 posts

Only time I've had it there . . . a business trip to Geneva, last night of the trip and the conference was over, on my own for dinner. Decided that when in Switzerland, had to have fondue. As you know it's designed for a group, and even the smallest portion is a LOT of cheese for one person, but it was kind of nice to just relax, decompress from work, and enjoy the fondue with a half bottle of local wine -- especially since the cost was not a deterrent due to a generous per diem, and the time of year was right for it (brisk early spring).

Posted by
1599 posts

When I first read this post in January it was a reminder that there was a fondue restaurant in Banff, Alberta that I've walked past for years always thinking I should try it. I finally did on the weekend and it was memorable. The restaurant is called the Grizzly House and while the food was good it was the eclectic decor that my wife and I will be talking about for years.

From the avocado green light fixtures to the macrame wall hangers, Swiss themed fence boards, large wood carving of Egyptian camels, disco ball, a large photo of a kilted Scottish dancer, a Harley motorcycle and some good ol' Western Canadian buffalo and elk heads hanging on the walls. I asked our waiter if there was a story behind it and he says not really, but the decor is still original from opening day in 1967. It's so tacky that it works. Fun evening and good fondue. I was searching on Google trying to find some links to images that does the decor justice, but no success.

Posted by
1569 posts

I wanted to have fondue for my birthday a few weeks ago. The Melting Pot restaurant here has had nothing but horrible reviews lately and I couldn't find another place that served it, so I was on my own. A German delicatessen here advertised fresh GIANT (they stressed that) pretzels and I thought one would be a great dipper for the fondue. The pretzel came in a large white cake box. It was 12 inches across and cost $11.00. It made me think of the old (1970s) book of drawings by Kliban: "Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head." Cut in small pieces, the pretzel worked well, along with some apple chunks and ham.

I no longer own a fondue pot, so I made do with a heavy saucepan. I took a round 9-inch stainless steel layer cake pan and put four tea light candles into it, then a square cake cooling rack on top and the saucepan on that. It worked well. My husband and I enjoyed our meal -- and we also snacked on that pretzel for days afterward! Next time, I'll choose the more traditional baguette.

Posted by
1512 posts

Happy (belated) Birthday, Janet!
that sounds like a fun Macgyver-ing project.
I also wonder if particular Melting Pot locations have a lot of freedom from central franchise supervision, because it seems like they do range from impressive to awful depending on location.