Once apon a time, a very lonely Swiss shepard, tending his flocks on a precipitous and isolated Alpine slope, sat down to eat his customary meal of bread,cheese and wine. "my GOD!" (well perhaps Mein Gott! if he was in a German speaking canton,which is more likely. )"I simply CAN NOT face this stuff AGAIN! There must be ein anderer Weg !"And so,in sheer desperation,he lit a fire under his iron pot(standard shepherd equiptment)and did something that was to shake the food world to its very foundation :he melted the cheeses and wine together in the heated pot,and then dunked his sturdy peasant bread into the hot dreamy mixture.
This,so ledgend has it,was the first fondue. Im not of a mind to dispute this tale. The Swiss,after all ,in addition to making first class cuckoo clocks,growing edelweiss and yodeling are ardent dunkers,starting with thier morning hot cocoa and dipping steadily through after dinner coffee.
FONDUE SANTA CRUZ STYLE
The extra kick ass ingredient in this cheese fondue is Porcini mushrooms, which is found all over the Santa Cruz mountains during the rainy season(which will NEVER end this year...3.2 inches June 4,2011). They will simmer in the cheese imparting a rich earthy nose and the terroir driven effect is so worth the addition to this amazing fondue. If you prefer a simple cheese fondue you are on the wrong page. Ofcourse a classic simple kirsch laden fondue has its place but why oh why be average when here in California we have right in our back yard such amazing gifts from Mother Nature.
4T. Of a good local Alambic brandy such as OSOCALIS , pure heaven made right in Soquel at Soquel Vineyards Home base, by the former distiller from Germain-Roban waka waka waka
3T arrow root ( binder and thickener so proteins wont jack up your Swiss adventure)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for serving
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
1 Big garlic clove, minced
1t. gresh grated nutmeg or for cool factor grate the nutmeg righ before searving to get garlic smell off your digets and the perfume of the spice will be heaven. Last the little red freckles of nutmeg on top is visual candy.
as much fresh black pepper as your heart desires my muffin.
1 pound high quality alpine cheese such as Gruyère, Emmental, Comté. grated
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms,wizz em in the spice grinder to a coarse grind.
1 loaf peasant bread, cut in 3/4 inch cubes. or more....boiled fingerling potatoes, hari coverts, beets,apples, fingers.......
Note: Have all of your ingredients ready before you begin I.E. Mise en Place baby . Once you start, the fondue will come together quickly, and during this time it must be constantly stirred. The fondue must not come to a boil during this time.
Combine brandy, arrow root, salt, 1/2t. black pepper or more or less nobody will judge, and nutmeg in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve the arrowroot. Set aside. Slurrry it tis.
Add wine and garlic(when fondue pot is empty rub the whole clove of garlic all over the inside of pot to purfume the party) into a large heavy saucepan or fondue pot. Heat over medium heat until tiny bubbles form, giving the wine a fizzy appearance without bringing to a boil. Add cheese one handful at a time, whisking constantly until each handful is melted before adding the next – do not let the fondue boil.
Once cheese is added, continue stirring one minute – do not let the fondue boil, broken record....
Stir in slurry. Continue stirring until mixture thickens to fondue consistency. ( If your fondue remains thin, add 1 more tablespoon arrow root diluted with 2 tablespoons white wine.) If using Porcini, stir the mushrooms into the cheese at this point. Remove from heat. Pour cheese into a warm fondue pot if necessary. Serve immediately hopefully with big glasses of Kabinet a hot tub a bubblin and some Rev. Al Green a croonin. Clothing optional or even have a key party.....
Eat up let the cheese drip down your chin have some levity and just be in the moment of a party food of the Seventies and a survival meal for Shepards.
Mamma loves you