Fondue and a Picnic. That’s what the heading should be! We were in Mahabaleshwar, my friend Nishi and me. Every day, pre-lunch we opened a bottle of Prosecco and made short work of it. We would keep chatting and pouring a small finger worth (for two reasons- one – it felt like we were drinking less, and two – it kept chilled while we drank.)
One afternoon we had a lunch of One Pot Chole (recipe to follow soon!) The Prosecco was not over. Now Mahabaleshwar has just stopped raining. So it’s green and madly clean. We have planted trees very recently, and it will take a while before our farm becomes a haven of shade and light, where we can swing up hammocks and snooze the afternoon away. A few trees did exist in the plot when we bought the land. And one such tree stands at the far end of the farm, close to the strawberry patch. It was a glorious day, and we had a brainwave to go sit under the tree and finish off our Prosecco. So armed with a mat, the ice pail of Prosecco and two glasses we headed for a picnic. The two dogs followed us and kept us excellent company. It was such amazing fun, that we decided to have a picnic lunch of Fondue and Prosecco the next day.
Laden with already melted fondue in the fondue pot, bread, pickles and the fondue sticks, mat, Prosecco and the two dogs we headed for our picnic. And a legendary picnic it was. Everything fell into place. It was really windy earlier, and I was rapidly losing hope of having the fondue set fire going for too long. No fire – results in quickly coagulating cheese- results in no fun. You see – Fondue in French means – To Melt. But the weather changed, and we got sweet balmy winds, throwing up far away fragrances of wildflowers and tree leaves. We renounced music and preferred to tune our ears to sound of the chirping birds and the soft snores of the completely happy dogs lying next to us.
Dogs in peace!
Post the Fondue, we chugged our Prosecco and fell into dopey sleepy chatty patterns. I will always smile and grin when I pass that tree in our farm. It has now become a spot I have to make everyone experience when we visit the farm.
my friend Nishi
I learnt this recipe of fondue from Chef Patrick in Hong Kong. My husband and I always visit his restaurant on our visits to Hong Kong. It’s a small homely place. He cooks along with his wife and they serve the food themselves. Chef explained the small intricacies of Fondue secrets to me. He said while melting, firstly use a wooden spoon, and secondly stir it in a shape of eight, horizontally. So left to right in a motion of eight! He said adding a pinch of soda bi carb, just as the cheese is melting will keep it from coagulating or breaking and curdling. Nothing great, a small secret and Voila! A fondue that is perfect!!
Get good quality cheese. Definitely, have white wine with it. In fact, so much melted cheese can be hard to digest, so one must have a shot of liquor post to help cut the cheese inside and aid digestion. Cherry Liquor – ie: Kirsch is the most suggested one. For dipping, you can use meat and bread. We are vegetarians, so we used bread. Get good quality French Baguette. Traditionally you are not supposed to toast it, but I like it a little crisp. So I toast it after cutting it, – not all the way crunchy, just hard on the outside crust and soft on the inside.
Many pieces of bread will fall and get lost in the fondue. You should play a game — whoever looses the piece drinks a shot of Tequila or Kirsch 😉 While eating keep stirring the fondue with someones fondue stick dipped in bread. This helps the cheese to keep melting evenly and not sticking at the bottom of the pot.This is a communal food, the more the friends sharing with you the more fun it is! If the cheese starts congealing, add a bit of wine and give it a brisk stir. For melting the cheese, you can use a little old wine. But remember, the more sour the wine, the more sour your fondue.
The whisky adds a mysterious touch to the Fondue. You would believe that the whisky will just disappear without a trace into the bubbling hot cheese, but not so. I have tasted this fondue with and without the whisky. There is a taste which the whisky lends, but if you ask me to describe it in words, I will not be able to do so. Its one of those small variations, which make a gigantic difference.
Fondue according to me is the food of the gods! Enjoy, laugh and make merry!
PS: Whatever you do – there will be a residue of toasted/burnt cheese at the bottom. What a bloody waste! As soon as you finish the fondue, dunk your fondue pan in a pan of ice. In a while, the cheese will lift up from the pan. That my friend, will be the tastiest bit of your fondue – and hey! no scraping and extra rinsing and cleaning!