Monday, August 11, 2008

Fondue Fiasco

I wish you were looking out the same window I am right now. I wish the picture I'm about to paint for you through words could actually create the same hushed exhilaration I feel inside.

Beauty does this to me, and there's nothing more beautiful to me right now than looking at shades of blue and green taking the form of grass, mountains, and sky. I am staying at a friend's house just north of Bellingham, and one thing I love about this place is what exists just beyond its wraparound porch. Bushes and trees, many of which bear blooms, proclaim the richness of the soil and the generosity of the rainclouds in the Pacific Northwest.

I had to get away to realize this is not the norm everywhere, to learn how to respond when beauty isn't at my fingertips. It's a good lesson, and I'm still learning. But I do hate to leave this place.

And this particular place, this home, is one of my favorite places to visit since my parents sold our property in the country last summer. I've spent the last few days here helping transform the gardens into a wedding site. We set up and take down chairs, tables, umbrellas, tents, and arbors, and then squeeze around a cozy breakfast nook with plenty of cheese, crackers, wine, and chocolate.

Not too shabby, eh?

In fact, the latter makes the former hardly seem like work at all. Especially when our cheese obsession turned into a conversation last weekend about a fondue party, and we all marked our mental calendars for this past Friday, prepared to bring our contribution of pots, forks, or appetite (that was me, having never eaten fondue before and thus having no equipment to share).

So, Friday afternoon we saw that the bride and groom and their guests had happily transitioned into the reception portion of their celebration and then started our own party.

We had no idea that by the end of the night we would have a long list of "what NOT to do" when making fondue.

1. First of all, you are NOT supposed to light a foil tin of blue jelly type fuel without a cover to guide the flame and keep it from leaping beyond the bottom of the pot it is heating.

2. And you are NOT supposed to let cheese melt and then begin to cool (because pot has been removed from out-of-control flame) and then try to melt it again.

3. In fact, do NOT even expect a pot purely of shredded colby jack cheese to come out in proper fondue form.

4. And, lastly, do NOT simply melt down your chocolate bars and then add a splash of alcohol. Unless you prefer fudge.

My best advice is to do research. Obviously, with all these blunders, I need to gather some information before my next attempt. Have any pointers? Do you know any websites I must use as references in the future? I just searched "fondue" on and got twenty-nine results. That's a start.

This afternoon I told a friend about our fondue fiasco, and she was appalled and embarrassed for me. Thankfully her husband was not there, or he probably would have insisted we sit down right then and there so my image of fondue could be redeemed. These friends both have trustworthy palates, so I'm going to pass on a tip they gave me for when you're really in a fondue crunch...

Trader Joe's apparently has a delicious fondue available. All it requires is a microwaveable container and loaf of lovely bread. Even these self-proclaimed fondue snobs praised it! So until I find a fondue pot to borrow from someone, that is what I'll be trying.

[8/14/08] I must amend this post by saying that I visited Trader Joe's this evening to pick up fondue and was told that they no longer carry it! Maybe this is not the case in your neck of the woods, but, alas, I will have to continue to wait for smooth, creamy, gruyere-y fondue.


Anonymous said...

Plus ...Thanksgiving fondue is on us. ;)(Homemade...and maybe raqclette, too.)

Lael said...

ok! we have it in officially in print, so I will be calling you come thanksgiving, dear friend.