Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Beautiful cheese fondue

Rolf_Beeler_Vacherin_FribourgeoisNothing better than to get together with friends and get all cozy and share a pot of bubbly melted cheese. Combined with some good wine and a basket full of bread. While I’m at it, add a good bottle of kirsch… I mean it’s that time of year; when winter sets in and the weather creates that perfect opportunity for warm and cozy meals at home. You know where I’m headed with that one? Yep, cheese fondue.

Ok!! But unless I can get myself and my friends teleported to a Swiss chalet complete with a rustic fireplace and snowy mountains outside the foggy windows, with the smell of smoky wood and maybe one stuffed animal head on the wall, then you’re probably asking yourself why I’m even choosing this topic? Because it’s CHEESE related and even better it’s melted cheese goodness in which you dip bread (traditionally) or any other food items you fancy.

Yes, I am aware that here it’s too hot and the scenery doesn’t really fit with that typically Swiss dish, but if you take your cheese seriously, you can take it anywhere and under any conditions. Being away from France, and Switzerland I always crave cheese. I can’t use the heat factor as an excuse for not eating some. I would miss out on a lot of things on this island if so.

So, luckily we have Parada Tipica el Choco. At this magical place, located just before Sosua, you can not only get cheese fondue, but also the Swiss chalet including yodeling music. Parada Tipica el Choco is one of my favorite restaurants out there. The owner is Swiss German and knows his stuff. He built this mini Swiss chalet (in his restaurant) where he cranks up the AC and puts on Swiss tunes. The inside has real cow bells, random mini sculptures of Swiss figurines, and he even brought his own alpine horn. Once you’re sat comfortably on your bench with cute little embroidered pillows, plus decoration, plus a good bottle of wine, trust me! Cheese fondue can be appreciated even though outside the real Caribbean world is flaming out heat and merengue rhythms are blasted out. So yeah, I guess in a way, that chalet is my teleporting devise ;)


But let’s get back to the cheese fondue. This typically Swiss dish has also spread across to the middle east side of France. There are different types of fondue, depending on the specialty of the region or country. So what makes a fondue a certain type? The cheese one uses to make it. The classic on is “moitié-moitié” which is half Gruyere and half Vacherin. Vacherin is a semi-hard type of cheese with a nutty like flavor. It’s produced both in Switzerland and France.  
Keep calm and eat cheese
You prepare it in a big pan usually made out of clay or cast iron. Then it’s presented on the table on top of a heat source with a metal structure. It’s very medieval looking if you get the original pieces. But nowadays you can get the electric ones, that are all fancy and easy to set up. But where is the fun in that? For dipping your bread, you use a long metal skinny fork with three tines. The bread is up to you, as long as it’s cut in perfect cubes not too big, nor too small: so that when it gets dipped in the cheese you have the perfect mouthful of bread and melted cheese. Traditionally you dip bread, to which you can add pickles and dried meat cuts, but I highly recommend some green apple slices, al dente broccoli, or boiled potatoes. Now, I shouldn’t be saying this, (it goes against my religion, and my moral point of view on the culture of fondue), but dipping French fries in there is really really really good.

Also a great trick is to have a shot of kirsch, a cherry liquor, in which you dip your bread to give it a little kick. Traditionally you have a dry white wine during the course, and that kirsch shot to digest at the end. Some people like to stick to red wine because that’s what you do with cheese, but I feel like marrying wine with food is a personal choice and there is no wrong or right way. Just make sure you don’t drink too much water. Hot melted cheese and water in the stomach will make you feel bloated pretty fast.

Once you have eaten most of the cheese, you will find a film of hardened cheese on the bottom called “la courte”. Don’t ever throw that away!  This is the best part of the fondue. Even if you’re full you’re going to want it, so make sure you drink that kirsch shot, man up, and grab an egg and throw it in there with the heat still on (low). This is called “la religuese”. I’m talking about this irresistible eggy and burnt cheese mixture that gets created by whisking that bottom cheesy crust with an egg. So yeah, make sure you keep room for that!

During the fondue some people like to establish some rules to make it more fun. Depends if you’re eating out or at home. If eating at home the common one we play is that the person who loses a piece of bread in the fondue needs to take off an item of clothing. If eating out then they need to down a shot. So, are we ready for this? Because we’re about to get all cheesed up!


Chili Cheese Fondue
4 to 6 servings (for normal people: 6. For my friends and I: It’s the perfect amount for 4!! :p)

Tools
the fondue pot (iron or clay)
wooden spoon
a heat source
long forks
a measuring cup

Important: If you don’t own a fondue kit, don’t worry! You can do it with a regular metal pot.
MacGyver it with some short candles and four small glasses. Place the four glasses upside down so that they hold your metal pot evenly, and in the middle put a bunch of small candles. Use regular forks… Remember that we are in the Dominican Republic after all! So, the final picture looks like this:

MacGyver solution
 
Ingredients
5 cloves of garlic
2 table spoon of butter (forgot to put on pic)
2 dried chili peppers or a teaspoon of chili flakes
2 spoons of flower
11/2 cup of white wine (dry)
2 cups of grated Gruyere
2 cups of grated Emmental
A shot of Schnapps
your favorite type of bread cut into nice cubes
You can add green apples, cherry tomatoes, or al dente broccoli as well for variety. Add whatever else your imagination wants to dip in cheese….

ingredientsingredients

How
1.    Put the pot on high heat and rub a garlic clove on the bottom of the clove. Add the butter and let it melt. Meanwhile cut your other garlic cloves in three pieces, add them to the pot along with the chili flakes.

howgarlicbutter

2.    Add your flower and mix well, so that it gets a little color and texture. This technique of mixing flower with any fat material is called a “roux”. Bring heat to low.

roux

3.    Once your roux is ready add the white wine, stirring all the while with your wooden spoon.

finaltexturefinaltexture

4.    When all ingredients are mixed in evenly, add the two types of grated cheese handful by handful, stirring all the time, which is THE TRICK for your fondue not to split or get lumpy. You want your fondue to obtain a thick texture almost like honey. If it’s too thick, add more white wine. And if it’s too liquid, add more cheese! Both are great solutions.

handfull

5.    Get your table ready with your fondue kit or your MacGyver version. Make sure you have fresh ground pepper, your schnapps shot, and any other ingredients you want to dip inside the fondue. Add a nice bottle of wine and all your friends, as well as that one egg to crack in for later!

apple

6.    Start dipping and enjoy!

tableset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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