Classic fondue – cold weather comfort food Swiss style – how to make and caveats for when you are serving to non-Swiss (or Germans or Austrians)

IMG_2010Fondue is much loved, and also much celebrated as a ye olde style swiss recipe, in fact it was apparently developed by a marketing group who were tasked with selling more cheese – be that as it may a fondue once or twice a year when it ‘s cold outside is quite enjoyable. I like mine with strong cheese – thing strong Gruyere – not the mild stuff that only is useful for making long cheese strings….


Fondue serves 3

1 garlic clove – rub the inside of a caquelon ( I made Fondue one december in Russia for a couple or Ukrainians and a Polish American – you can melt the cheese in a metal saucepan but keeping it melted is a real challenge, I tried on a stovetop doesnt work well, so best to get the equipment…a heating stove thingy and a caquelon made of very thick cast iron or ceramic)

1/2 liter dry wine ( you could try using cider too if you prefer) – use fendant if you can get it and it doesnt cost you an arm and your first born

600g Gruyère, the strong stuff!

2cl Kirsch (cherry alcohol, NOT liqueur, not sweet) + 4 Tablespoons cornstarch

Rub the caquelon with the garlic, add the wine and warm it, add the grated cheese – you don’t need finely grated cheese, I think that might not work in fact, you need it grated ar0und larger grater holes.

Please please do NOT buy ready grated stuff, get the cheese, grate it yourself, you know you can do it if you really want to. I make an exception if you are in Switzerland or a country that sells you freshly grated cheese for fondue. And I don’t have to ask you, I hope, not to buy the ready packaged fondue stuff with all ingredients already in there. We are talking 6 ingredients tops, you really want to mix it yourself.

Make sure to keep stirring, keep heat low. This is a bit like a polenta if you walk away things will stick to the bottom of the pan….you don’t want that trust me.

Mix the kirsch with the cornstarch and stir into the melted cheese to bind it all together. Season with some nutmeg and pepper, I prefer coarse black but that is just me.

Serve with cut bread in cubes and forks.

Catering to cultural differences – how to serve fondue to people other than the Swiss

The Swiss being a hearty farming nation (yes I am kidding, but only a little) are not too obsessed with germs. So there is no issue if someone uses the dipping fork to dip bread in cheese and then using that fork to eat. Double dipping is the norm for this activity.   Fondue is really only eaten among friends and family so that is kinda ok. Although I did go on a work outing with loads of clients where we also had fondue in the mountains but nobody was fazed. However: If you are from the other side of the pond, or your guests are from the other side of the pond, where anti-bacterial spray is a constant friend and people avoid touching the handrail of the shopping centers they go to then I suggest giving people a dipping fork and an eating fork …… one dinner with colleagues from US, Latin America, Europe, etc. I had to make up a story about how to use the forks, and we gave everyone two. The waiter who was trying to explain to the group how to eat fondue got very confused until I firmly looked him in the eye and said, we are going with the adapted version..

PS: I love to eat my cheese with cumin (aka djeera, in Switzerland it is called Kreuzkümmel, if you order cumin in Switzerland you will get a different kind of cumin, not the stuff you might expect) In my book djeera is the perfect thing to sprinkle on melted cheese..


Black tea is good, fendant is traditional, you can of course like me drink cider, but this was after my Ireland trip, or water, a nice Kirsch afterwards helps digest the cheese (we believe…) medically cannot say it makes any sense but hey ho. When reporting on traditions not good to look at them through the cold hard lense of university learning.

Have a lovely weekend all


Orange and date fruit salad works very well  make sure you peel all the white stuff off the oranges first, makes for a nicer fruit salad, but it’s a pain to do…


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