Story and photos by Manos Angelakis
Le Creuset photo by the manufacturer
Last weekend, going down memory lane, we decided to make for supper something we had not prepared for many years. It was a cheese fondue.
We had been cooking cheese fondue when we lived in Manhattan and entertained a lot. However, since we moved to our Hackensack apartment because we no longer entertain as much, we had not made fondue for many years.
We don’t have a traditional coquelon. When we first started preparing the dish we were doubling the recipe, which meant we needed a larger pot to prepare the meal.
We found the Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Cocotte that spreads the heat evenly; not as light as a traditional earthenware coquelon but has two handles and it is easy to move around. From Le Creuset we also found a cast iron burner that takes a tin with jelled alcohol used for keeping food warm in catering and available even in supermarkets.
We use an adaptation of the classic recipe of Fondue, with a mixture of cheeses. GruyŔre of course is the base, with half the weight Emmentaler and about two teaspoonfuls of Sap Sago that add exceptional flavor, all dissolved in a dry white wine with 1/8 cup Luxardo’s Marascino instead of Kirsch and 2 teaspoonfuls of fresh lemon juice. Knowing that the flavor can only be as good as the cheese quality of the fondue, I purchase the best available, properly aged, imported cheeses. The cheese mixture was dredged with a tablespoonful of flour.
I’m very excited because I found two perfect wines, one to use when making the fondue and the other to drink with the fondue.
The wine I used for cooking the fondue is the Corvo Grillo, a dry white from Sicily that is inexpensive enough and good enough to cook with, as well as drink it. It’s a bit on the acidic side and that works very well with the melting cheese. But the drinking wine with this fondue was from the Cantine Ermes, a co-op in the heart of Sicily’s Belice Valley. It is called Vento di Mare Moscato, and is a lovely, semi-frizzante Moscato wine from a grape ubiquitous in the Mediterranean that has adapted very well to the Sicilian terroir. This is an off-dry effervescent wine, that is nicely aromatic and paired beautifully with the fondue (see also the article that includes the Cantine Ermes wines) .
The aromatics I used were 2 pinches of nutmeg, one medium size fine diced garlic clove and ground green Malabar pepper. The garlic was lightly browned in one teaspoon of sweet butter at the bottom of the cocotte before adding the wine, instead of just rubbing the pot with a halved garlic clove, as is the regular practice.
I like a good sliced baguette with a firm crust as a dunkable.
Unfortunately, in our area a good baguette is practically impossible to find. There are plenty of “Italian” loaves but most are limp with a spongy interior and when older than second day they taste like chewing on cardboard. So, we improvised and used cubed, fresh Portuguese hard rolls from a local bakery; we used 3 rolls cubed into 1 inch cubes, all cubes with one side of crust, for the two of us. Not as good as the baguette, but much better than the supermarket’s “Italian” loaves.
There are many other dunkables that can be used with a cheese fondue; I’m a purist, so I normally only use bread.
Again, a dish is only as good as the ingredients in it. Using fresh ingredients, the best you can find, is essential in preparing a great fondue.
To your health!
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