This is a blog post by request from Mr. E, my former colleague and very good friend. I was suffering from writer’s block one day and asked E what he wanted to read about. Surprisingly, he said “why don’t you write about fondue?”.
Now, E though fondue was a quintessentially Scandinavian meal, and that it would therefore make sense for me to go through the traditional ways of preparing it and also where to get it from in London. Since fondue is actually a typical Swiss dish, I can’t offer much expertise in this area, but I decided to do some research nonetheless. Who wouldn’t be up for some fondue fun?
Fondue consists of two types of melted cheeses (most often emmenthal or gruyère), a bit of flour and white wine. Cider, kirsch, garlic or mushrooms can be additional ingredients, however since each canton in Switzerland have their own traditional way of preparing fondue, recipes can vary endlessly.
Bread is the typical ingredient to dip in the Caquelon pot, but meat works as well (this is called Fondue Bourguignonne and the meat is first dipped in hot oil). There’s etiquette when it comes to eating fondue, which is good to bear in mind if you’re dining with spear-dipping pros. As it is a communal dish, double-dipping is frowned upon and if you lose your piece of bread in the pot, tradition says that you need to buy a round of drinks to everyone seated at the table. Can be a pricey affair, so learn to handle your spear!
Originally a peasant dish, fondue was prepared to use up old cheese and stale bread. The dish has been around since the 1700s, but its heyday was in the 1970’s, when fondue parties was the rage and fondue pots seemed to be the perfect present. Since fondue has had a bit of a comeback, I think it would make a brilliant New Year’s Eve theme. Dress up in 70’s-inspired outfits (straight off the catwalk à la Chloe if you’re aiming to do fancy) and pretend you’re in a cosy chalet high up in the mountains. Bring moonboots to complete the look.
If you’re short of a Caquelon pot, there are a couple of London restaurants that can serve up a good fondue too. Or a riveting raclette.
Walluc on Redchurch street is a French Italian bistro, that has been described as an “alpine den” in the east. The restaurant specialises in fondue, raclette and fresh pasta.
For people in the west, L’art du Fromage is a Chelsea local dedicated to bringing French cheese to the people. Find fondue, Vacherin Mont D’or and cheese boards on the menu.
St. Moritz on Wardour street in Soho serves authentic Swiss food in rustic chalet-looking surroundings. Aside from fondue, rosti, spatzli and bratwurst are other dining options.