Smoked butterscotch light Frappuccino. Barbecued pork belly, kimchee coleslaw and fried clam sushi roll. Everything but the kitchen sink Bloody Marys. Often, the venues are as trendy as these offering.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we prefer our style to be a bit more timeless and enduring, something missing in much of today’s digital pace…and romance longevity. Yes, we may be a bit partial here, but there is something about the comfort, almost the reassurance, of a log home on a cold, wintry February night. Outside, Mother Nature is throwing her best at you. Inside, massive timbers are overhead, aged hardwoods under foot. You are surrounded by White Cedar logs. The roaring fire isn’t at all bothered by what’s happening outside and casts a warm glow onto the boulders and stones of the soaring fireplace.
Now, add some Frank Sinatra, a chilled bottle of Dom Perignon and classic food for two – FONDUE. Old-school. Classic. Timeless. Call it what you like, but there is a romance associated with this picture.
The French word fondue (fondue = to melt) describes a very old traditional method of spearing bread cubes onto a long fork and dipping them into melted cheese. At the time, it was “invented” it was an ideal way of using up old bread. Because of the cold climate, in the middle ages, both the French and the Swiss would make their cheese and bread during the warm summer months and store them for winter use. Of course, after several months in storage the bread was as hard as a rock so some bright spark – probably an inventive peasant – sought ways to soften it, and came up with the idea of grating some cheese adding a cup of wine and heating it all in a pot. Getting the hot cheese mix from the pot to the mouth was tricky, it couldn’t be held on a fork and a spoon became too hot, they needed an edible solution, so the old bread came into play. And voila! The fondue was born.
300 g grated Gruyère
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup Chardonnay
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 tbsp Kirsch
1/8 tsp nutmeg
baguette, cut into cubes
blanched broccoli florets
apples, cut into cubes
pears, cut into cubes
Toss cheese with cornstarch. Set aside. Combine wine with garlic in a medium saucepan and bring just to a simmer over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low. Gradually add cheese mixture to wine, whisking constantly in a figure-8 motion to keep cheese from clumping. Whisk until cheese is completely melted and smooth, 3 to 5 min. Stir in Kirsch and nutmeg. Pour into a fondue pot set over a low flame and place in a serving stand, or spoon mixture into warm ramekins for individual servings. Serve with baguette cubes, broccoli, kale, apples and pears.
2 13.5 ounce cans regular coconut milk 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar (8 oz)
¾ teaspoon Diamond kosher salt (if using Morton’s scale back to 1/2 tsp)
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla or coconut extract
3 tablespoons dark rum, coconut rum, or Cognac
Combine coconut milk, brown sugar, and salt in a 12-inch or larger heavy skillet. Heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until reduced and thickened, stirring more frequently as the mixture thickens; this should take 15 to 20 minutes. The mixture will become darker, and the bubbles will go from being somewhat frothy to looking more like bubbling lava. A wooden spoon or heat-proof spatula scraped along the bottom from one end to another should leave a trail that “heals” within a few seconds. When this happens, remove from heat. Add the chocolate, wait about 1 minute, then stir to incorporate. Once chocolate is fully melted, stir in the vanilla and optional liquor. Transfer to fondue pot, make sure the heat is low to prevent scorching. Serve with fresh fruit (bananas, pineapple, strawberries, etc…) and/or angel food or pound cake cubes.
Et voila! Bon appétit en amoureux.