I’m obsessed with cheese. Cheese is great – amazing, even. I completely ignore the fact I’m lactose intolerant because of it. Recently, however, I realised I had never been successful in using cheese to the best of its ability – in a fondue.
I used to go to charity shops in my hometown and purchase chipped fondue sets for a pound and fill my mum’s cupboard with them. The thought of making a fondue was always satisfying; however, my attempts to create a creamy pool of goodness were, in reality, just stagnant pools of wine and other liquid resting above hard cheese. According to Google, the way of preventing this curdling is to choose a good white wine that isn’t too dry and heating it to drive away the acidity which curdles the milk proteins in the cheese. Easy enough, right? I can’t justify spending over a fiver on wine yet, though, so I used Aldi’s Pinot Grigio which worked well.
We don’t have many pots & pans in the Laser Home apartment, technically just one big pot, and the thought of people having to crowd into our tiny kitchen to dive into the bottom didn’t exactly fit into my Nigella-style dinner party vision. Instead, I conjured a fondue set from dinner party dreams (it has a grill and a hot plate) and allowed the 8 of us to sit around it like we were in some weird cheese cult.
Speaking of friends, who the fuck is taking the photos for social media influencers? None of my friends would be willing to waste their night taking photos of me and my food, and I’m usually too stressed or covered in grease to pick up my phone or a camera. That’s why these photos are shit, by the way. The steak was perfectly medium rare but my phone camera made it look like a worn shoe, and the fondue looks more yellow than golden. You’re going to have to trust me on this one.
I’m a student, therefore most of the time I’m pretty much broke, so everyone had to bring a food item of their own and their own booze; Nigella definitely doesn’t make her guests do that, she probably even supplies their cocaine for the night. My boyfriend and his housemate made a French Onion soup which completely trumped everything but the fondue; I made blinis from scratch as well as Ratatouille (nobody ate it, which confirms that vegetables are disgusting), and I steamed mussels in a garlic butter and white wine sauce, thickening it with some Crème fraîche at the end because I’m a dirty woman.
The fondue was the star of the show. I used this recipe as I have failed it a million times over, and needed to prove I was at fault. I read a lot of opposing arguments on forums about what cheese is better, why cheap wine is an abomination and shouldn’t be used, what is an authentic Swiss fondue etc. So I decided to not trust anyone who still writes on online forums in 2019. It turns out; cheap ingredients don’t spoil a fondue as much as people think they will. It’s melted Swiss cheese, goddamit, WITH WINE. It’s very hard to screw up that pairing.
What I learned from making this fondue is that my previous attempts were weak due to my incredible impatience – another reason I struggle with food presentation and baking. This time, after boiling away most of the alcohol from the wine, I actually took my time gradually adding the cheese to the mixture. I told Alexa to shuffle Jonas Brothers and stirred for a good 20 minutes (because I gave up and someone else had to take over) but eventually, the separated liquids turned into this:
Armed with bread, asparagus, mixed salami, steak and skewers, the 8 of us plunged into the amber pool until it was gone, but definitely not forgotten. I will now be taking requests for future cheese related nights as our cult slowly but surely gains traction.
All hail the cheese.