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Build-Up to Cabin Fever: My Personal Fondue Party

I admit it, the tortillas I talked about in my last entry weren't my only symptom of cabin fever.  (Nor were they the last---wait until you see the next blog post.)  On Monday night, as the massive sheet of ice was being laid down over the city, I held my own personal fondue party.

This wasn't quite as crazy as it may sound.  I've had a fondue set for 20 years and never used it.  My friends and I decided last summer that this winter was the time to break it out and have a fondue party.  If you're wondering why I waited six months, you've never had cheese fondue.  Although wonderful, it has the density of concrete as it sits in your stomach.  Hibernation is the only path to digestion.  Eating it in Atlanta's hot summer could very well make your stomach ferment and blow up like a balloon.  Before the storm, I had tried to organize a small group of friends who could tolerate possible mistakes to make a test run but schedules didn't mesh.  So, as the storm approached, I decided to make a very small batch myself while I sat out the storm, which I really didn't think would last much past Tuesday.

The fondue itself was quite easy.  I used a combination of Gruyere and Ementhaler cheeses, about evenly split, which I melted on the stove.  The traditional recipe calls for white wine to improve the cheese's fluidity.  I tried apple juice, which worked very well.  A little bit of cornstarch slurry gets thrown in to bring everything back to the right consistency.

My fondue stand was ready to go.  I had originally assumed that I needed Sterno, but my burner runs just fine on rubbing alcohol.  I cut up some bread and Granny Smith apple for dipping.  The result was very enjoyable and a great antidote to an icy night.  The only thing that I need to work on was my heat control---it takes very little heat to keep the cheese liquid.

Any such meal of course demands dessert, so after a little rest I prepared a chocolate fondue.  I used unsweetened baking chocolate and cream but no sugar.  I used fruit, including some of the apple, for dipping.  I wasn't sure the baking chocolate would really taste good enough, but I was surprised at how enjoyable it was.  I do suspect that a fancy eating chocolate would be even better.

Overall, the evening was a big success.  I tested out a new recipe without subjecting anyone to possible disasters and I entertained myself on a cold winter evening.


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