Fondue Factoids


1. If you like your fondue silky smooth, you should soak your grated cheese in cold wine for 1 to 2 hours before beginning to cook it. The texture is marvellous, but on the one occasion I tried this, I found the flavour oddly faded.
2. If your fondue is too thin, turn up the heat and add a little cornflour dissolved in wine or kirsch, and stir.
3. If your fondue becomes too thick, turn up the heat, add a little white wine and stir like hell.
4. If your fondue starts to curdle, put the pot back on the stove and add a teaspoon of cornflour dissolved in a little white wine, and a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. Mix it all in thoroughly and bring to the boil briefly while praying fervently.
5. If you can see the bottom of the fondue pot and you're still hungry, provided you still have some cheese left, you can always add a bit more. Turn up the heat, throw in the rest of your grated cheese and some wine, stirring energetically all the while. If, on the other hand, you have no cheese left, you'd better make sure you've planned something for afters.
6. If you feel like ringing the changes, why not try cider or champagne instead of white wine. You could also add a handful of finely chopped shallots, diced ham, chopped fresh herbs, green peppercorns, or a little bit of blue cheese.
7. What's more, you don't have to stick to white bread for dunking (although, IMHO, it's by far the best thing). Try buttered toast, blanched vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, baby sweetcorn, celery sticks or spring onions) or tomato wedges and mushrooms. If you're really adventurous, you could even try dipping apple, pear or pineapple slices (ughhhhhhhh... I hate fruit).
8. If you need something to nibble before you get down to business, traditional amuse-gueules include small silverskin onions, cornichons (gherkins) and dried meat. The latter might sound alarming, but it's just a kind of ham, really. Salami, Parma ham... anything like that will do. But make sure it's good quality.
9. DON'T, whatever you do, drink water with your fondue. The cheese will congeal into an enormous ball in your stomach; you won't be able to sleep, go to the toilet, or dream of ever eating another fondue as long as you live. If you can't or won't, drink wine, have some hot black tea instead.
10. And finally, real hard-core fondue eaters do the "coup du milieu". This means having an extra wine glass by your plate, containing kirsch. Before dipping your cubes of bread into the cheese, dip them first into the kirsch. It aids digestion and is excellent for the skin. No, really.

These little gems come from a minuscule booklet I picked up at the cheese counter of my local Co-op in Lausanne. If you want more details, you have only to let me know.
 
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