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Posts Filed Under The ‘Fondue’ Category

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Fondue Weather


The weather we’re experiencing around here these days suggests fondue. For other parts of the country even more so! Nothing warms you better than melted cheese and currently there are several specimens here that dissolve beautifully into simmering white wines. One of the original fondue cheeses is Fontina d’Aosta, always crafted from raw cow milk, as they have been for over a thousand years. The so-called “mountain” cheeses are the ones to seek out, especially the cow milk varieties.

Why cow?

It seems that cow milk cheeses are better at melting into a fondue than sheep, and certainly better than goat cheeses. Many of these mountain cheeses are delicious on their own at room temperatures, yet Fontina (though delicious at room temperature) simply does not hold up so well when left out. A wedge of Fontina will start to slump, the butter fats will leach out, and the wedge will dry out quickly. The cheese seems to demand that it be melted down, which is one reason why it makes an excellent cooking cheese.

A similar cheese from across the border in eastern France is Morbier, more of a smear-ripened cheese than Fontina but equally nice at melting. The Morbier has the same disposition when set out at room temperature as the Fontina d’Aosta. The harder cheeses that are closely related to these stand up better when left out, such as Comté, Gruyère, Uplands Pleasant Ridge and Tarentaise. When I first started snacking on these types at room temperature I was admonished, as though that was the only way to fully enjoy them, melted.

Maybe that is true for today’s weather but when it warms up in a few months, I would prefer to leave the fondue pot in storage and instead shave off several thin slices of these marvelous cheeses, invariably some of the most popular in cheese competitions.

Max McCalman

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Nice Weather for Cheese

main cave e1374781072777 Nice Weather for Cheese

An old colleague called it “cheddar weather.” Today’s weather is close to ideal for maintaining cheddar: cool, moist, overcast, with gentle breezes. These are the kinds of conditions that work best for curing most any cheese, cheddar included. They approximate the conditions in a natural cave, which is the reason they call cheese ripening rooms “caves.”

Another reason we might call it “cheddar weather” is because this kind of weather can stimulate our appetites for cheese. For some of us any kind of weather is good for the cheese appetite. We may prefer some cheese styles more than others depending on the atmospheric conditions, the same way that weather can shape our wine choices. Our taste for cheese may veer toward the lighter cheeses when it is hot outside, while the colder days suggest a heavier mountain style of cheese – the types that make their way into fondue.

It may be mid-summer but fondue sounds good, the primordial food that it is. Cheddar, by the way, is not the ideal cheese for fondue. Cheddar works well for melting over apple pie but the Gruyère family of cheeses is better for making fondue. Call it “Gruyère weather?”

- Max McCalman

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

The Fondue Blog

fondue pic 300x229 The Fondue BlogFall has arrived and the fondue smells great!

As the weather turns chillier the idea of fondue seems better than a few months ago.

When it was already hot outside, the idea of hot fondue may not have seemed so appealing, though I can recall seeing a crock of fondue on nearly every table in August at the Artisanal Bistro! Part of the attraction to fondue is probably because it is so primordial, like a baby having its first food at body temperature milk. Warming up cheese releases more of those aromatic compounds which are so endearing as well as delicious on the palate.

At this time we have several cheese candidates for delicious fondues, not only the Alpine types but also cheddars, pressed sheep milk cheeses, even blues. The classic fondues call for the aged pressed cow milk cheeses such as Gruyère, Comté, Tarentaise and Fontina d’Aosta or Vacherin Fribourgeois (both of which claim to be the original fondue cheese). The cheeses that work well for fondues also work pretty well for making raclettes and vice versa, such as Val Bagner or Raclette itself. All of these cheeses are so tasty on their own that I see little reason to go to the trouble melting them down; just enjoy them at room temperature.

Yet again, fondues and raclettes are very nice, especially as the weather turns colder. Part of their desirability is the opioid peptides cheese contains, peptides that help us deal with stress and pain (as in the stresses and pains of cold weather).

Fondue is fairly simple to make, and it requires just a few ingredients. We have a fondue mix ready to go; all you need is a little white wine and a crisp baguette. The mix is shredded and mixed, ready to melt down in the wine, and then enjoy. One of our more popular hands-on classes is Fondue. In this class you learn how to make different amazing fondues that are great for entertaining.

The fondue has regained an appreciation in this country after it was nearly forgotten. It could have become extinct due to the inferior quality of many of the cheeses we had available. No wonder they were only so popular! Now we have superior fondue and raclette cheese types that are being crafted here in the U.S., as well as access to many inimitable old world styles.

For more information about Artisanal Cheese, Fondue or Max McCalman, please visit our website.