Thursday, March 18, 2010

Do You Fon-do?

We celebrated Aunt Pam and Uncle Win's 20th wedding anniversary with them, anchored in Ballast Bay, a beautiful and serene spot off the South end of St. Kitts. The water was calm, the temperature was perfect, and we spent the day lazing around the boat. Noah learned to tie a monkeys fist knot, Pam and Win read their books, and I laid on the bow, listening to Zac Brown and watching the clouds, frigate birds, and pelicans go by. Tons of fish were jumping and little schools of minnows would rise out of the water in a wave, like reverse rain. I pondered a swim, watching a school of squid congregate around the anchor line. I had to talk Noah into going first, so he could scare away whatever was chasing those minnows. It was one of our most beautiful and romantic days in the Carribbean.

That night, to celebrate their 20 years together, we uncorked some wine and dined on cheese fondue. The world would be a better place with more fondue in it. Noah and I don't own a bona fide fondue pot and so don't make it often, but we should, because fondue is just plain fun. Those little forks, cubes of bread and fruit, melted cheese, and a leisurely dining pace create an atmosphere outside the norm. Pammy is a fondue queen and has it down pat. Here's her method for sailboat fondue:

Pammy's Cheese Fon-DO's
This is the WAY to do Fondue. By the time we reached St.Kitt's our stash of fine cheeses from Miami had long since disappeared from the galley--WASN'T ME!! ...ok, it was totally me...No worries--we had Emmi Fondue Cheese (original Swiss style): a pantry product that does not require refrigeration and is great for sailing or camping. At home I would have made my own cheese mixture from scratch, but this stuff was really great, and gave me inspiration for our next backpacking trip.

Pam put the cheese into a saucepan over medium low heat. Soon it was in melted, liquid form. In a large skillet, she sauteed some button mushrooms with a little butter, salt, and pepper. Once they were tender and a little caramelized, they got tossed into the cheese pot. Then, a tablespoon or two of Kirsch  was added to spike the mix, along with a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. Turn the heat to "warm" or off, cover the pan and set aside. The cheese is ready to go.

In the mushroom skillet, over medium heat, Pam melted a few tablespoons of butter and tossed in a couple teaspoons of minced garlic. She added the garlic to the pan and when it was fragrant, she added a sliced baguette (you could also do cubed bread). She tossed it all together in that hot pan and within a few minutes the bread was toasted, fragrant, and garlic-infused. This is a good way to make garlic toast when you don't have an oven handy, and it made a big difference in flavor.

We lit the fondue pot, poured in the cheese, and set the table up in the cockpit so we could dine al fresco, and enjoy a beautiful sunset. With the addition of a few sliced apples and pears, dinner was served.

All these little tricks: the mushrooms, kirsch, fresh nutmeg, and garlic toast-- made a wonderful fondue, and I was inspired to jot down Pammy's tricks so I could become a fondue queen too.

So, do you Fon-Do? If so, please tell Food-G about it in the comment box. What kind of cheese or other accoutrements make your pot bubble? What are your Fon-DO's and Fon-DONT'S? We want to hear about it : )

Cheese Fondue on Foodista


the wicked noodle said...

I just recently bought myself a fondue set and I love it! I don't use it often, but it's great for a party appetizer.

Melissa Peterman said...

Nutmeg! Great idea- that makes sense, and I have never thought of that before.

Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sara Ohlin said...

Fondue is my favorite meal on the planet. But not cheese fondue so much as beef fondue, where you cook the meat in hot peanut oil and then dip it in delicious, creamy, no-good-for-you sauces. It's been a wonderful family tradition since I was a child...delicious! And it's more than just the food; it's the kind of meal where you talk and laugh and enjoy each other's company.

Food-G said...

Wicked Noodle, party apps ARE great for fondue. We do a champagne goat cheese appetizer fondue with sliced pears and bread...mmmm...tummy's a growlin'.

Melissa, isn't nutmeg so good in cheesy stuff. I dose up my gratins with it-- it's the secret ingredient everyone asks about. Fruity, aromatic, a little spicy. In the Caribbean, nutmeg is everywhere and in everything, and it makes you think, why don't we use more of this magical stuff?

Sara, ok, you made my mouth water. I can only imagine what kind of delicious, creamy sauce you dipped your beef fondue in...I hope it involved at least a little horseradish, maybe some mayo, dry mustard...oh the curiosity : )

Angie said...

I've always wanted to fondue, but haven't yet!

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