Cheese Fondue 451: Save Our Gruyere

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Fondue Ingredients

Fondue Ingredients

I have always been a serious cheese lover.  With my Wisconsin birthplace and Danish heritage, it was practically fate.  So when I came across the American Cheese Society on facebook, I was delighted to friend them.  All was well until I came across a cautionary tale about a possible ban on raw milk cheeses including Parmigiano-Reggiano, Roquefort, and (insert audible gasp) aged Gruyere.

I could hardly believe my eyes.   Was the FDA seriously thinking about ending a centuries old cheesemaking tradition?

You see, there is nothing quite like a good Gruyere.  Warm, nutty and mellow, it can make your eyes close like a first kiss.

Gruyere is amazing with eggs, shaved over arugula, or nibbled au natural, but there is one use that has special place in my heart, fondue. 

 I first sampled it back in Ms Bussone’s high school French Class and it was love at first taste.  In the following years, fondue remained trendy and I served it regularly.  Then it faded in popularity but never from my thoughts.

Cheese Fondue

Cheese Fondue

 

When my kids hit school age, it was time to resurrect the dish.  I made my original cheese fondue, added steak in hot oil, and served chocolate fondue for dessert.  It was a meal for special occasions and ultimately became our New Year’s tradition; avoid the drunks, eat fondue, then curl up in front of a fire to watch “The Holiday.”

Fondue was even the last dinner I shared with my father.  Acutely ill from cancer, I was overjoyed when a friend of his offered to drive him to our “cabin up north” for what would be his last trip there.  He spent most of the day on the sofa, fighting pain and nausea, and wasn’t well enough to take us out to the fine dinner he’d planned.  Always prepared, I whipped up my fondue and he rallied to join us around the kitchen island, laughing and joking—at least one more victory for quality of life.  I don’t think it’s even possible to eat fondue without having fun. 

And so I had to ask… what (level of raging paranoia) could possibly motivate a ban on my beloved Gruyere?

According to David Gumbert , one of the things we are witnessing is the use of value-laden language, for example Stephen Sundlof of the FDA’s references to “escalating interest in raw milk consumption,”  (we all know that escalation is bad, right?).  And at an ACS session on surviving a cheese recall (where if my memory is correct, contamination was found on only one sample—nothing in frozen samples or other locations), an audience member was quick to suggest that this may have been because the cheese was made from raw milk.  I was starting to experience a weird McCarthy-era-like déjà vu.  But… cheese demagogues?

Ok, perhaps I am taking this too far.  Banning cheese (however surreal it may feel) does not quite rise to the level of political persecution—unless perhaps you are a farmer or cheesemaker.  But we can smoke cigarettes (how about slapping a really scary warning on raw milk cheese?), we can ride motorcycles without helmets (at least in Wisconsin), and we can gorge ourselves on junk food.  It’s time to put an end to the witch hunt.

Shredded Cheese

Shredded Cheese

 So (get it while you can), here is my recipe for cheese fondue:

Cheese Fondue

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz of natural Swiss cheese, shrededed (about 2 cups)
  • 8 oz of natural Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1 t cornstarch
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 c dry white wine (or slightly more to thin while fondue is being eaten)
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • dash of pepper
  • loaf of French bread, cut in bite-sized cubes, ideally with a piece of crust on each

Instructions: 

  • Peel and cut garlic clove in half, then rub the inside of a heavy saucepan with garlic. 
  • Pour 1 c wine and 1 T lemon juice into the pan. Warn until air bubbles cover surface.  Do not allow to boil.
Add Shredded Cheese to Wine Mixture

Add Shredded Cheese to Wine Mixture

 

  • Toss cheese with cornstarch.  Add handfuls of cheese, stirring vigorously.  Add a dash of pepper.  When cheese is melted but not boiling, transfer to fondue pot.
  • Dip in a cube of bread, swirl and eat.  Add more wine if mixture becomes too thick. 

Tip:  Be sure to use a good Gruyere; the one time I used a poorer one it was very noticeable, even with the wine and Swiss cheese.  You don’t want to miss that first kiss effect!

Cheese Fondue

Cheese Fondue

13 Comments

  1. Hi Inger!!!

    I love Gruyere and Fondue as well. I’ll never understand the decisions these people come up with. My friend Katie, who is Amish, is having a heck of a time clearing the way for cheese making on her farm. I have a sneaky suspicion it’s going to be a no go. I can buy unpasturized milk here in PA at many farms but there are oodles of restrictions on cheese. Go figure!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing…You have a delightful blog. Thanks for visiting mine:)

    P.S. I did a post for National Chocolate Fondue Day here.

    • I’ll have to check out your chocolate fondue–I am not completely happy with mine. I wish your friend Katie the best of luck in getting approval for her cheese-making. If you think of it, I’d love to hear how that goes. I am taking my 2nd cheesemaking class tomorrow–with no commercial ambitions however!

      • I’m so glad you enjoyed the chocolate fondue post Inger. It was fun to do!!! Katie is having quite the time. It looks like her niece may be offering goat cheese before her. I’ll be posting about their endeavors on my blog. In the mean time, there are quite a few bloggers who visit my blog who make cheese. Let me know if you want any suggestions.

        Good Luck with your class. Have fun with it. Sometimes hobbies should just stay that, a hobby:) I hope you will be posting about it. I’ve added your link to my side-bar so I remember to drop by more often. Louise

        • Glad you are enjoying my blog. I had so much fun in the class and came away inspired. I think I’ve found a source of goat milk, so there may be some goat cheese in my future too. I’ll stay tuned to your blog for the saga!

  2. Contributing writer aka NadiaIf you love melted cheese fondue can be heaven on earth and nearly foolproof for even the most cooking-challenged. A fondue can be a great way to hold a farewell bash for the cheese bits and pieces that have overstayed their welcome in your fridge.

  3. Hi Inger! Try this link for cheese making. Heather (girlchef) has lots of tips. I’m still craving a fondue especially since I keep dropping in, lol:)

    • I just checked this out. I’ve made a couple of these cheeses already but I am going to add cream cheese and cottage cheese as soon as I get my supplies re-stocked. (Then cheddar, then gouda, then…) Thanks for the link–and go eat some fondue ;-)!

      • So glad you enjoyed Heather’s blog. She’s quite the cook and cheese maker. I’m green with envy of you both, lol…

        I will be sharing a fondue before the month is over as I will be spending time with my daughter in Idaho in a week or so and she LOVES fondue!!!

  4. My ears were burning… Being the total cheeseslut that I am, I also adore Gruyere and fondue and anything remotely associated with one of the other ;) Your fondue sounds seriously delicious…and I’m not going to worry too much about the ban on raw milk cheeses…that fight has been going on for so long now…one reason I decided to start making my own cheese. If you can get your hands on raw milk, you can make your own cheese…hooray! ‘Course, that becomes quite a hassle, as well…but we have some good Grass-fed Girls that you can become a shareholder of in my area. Anyway…long live cheese!

  5. As a fellow midwesterner, Minnesotan, and a food lover – very fond in fact of products from your fair state of Minnesota. I share your love of cheese. Cheese fondue is a personal favorite that only gets broken out on special occasions, to keep it special. What a great post – I was deeply touched by the story of sharing this meal with your father. That is a memory to treasure.

    Regarding the raw milk debate, alive and well here in California, interested to hear it is also in Wisconsin. Funny how all those Europeans seem to eat raw milk cheese with nary a problem – must be made of sterner stock.

  6. Pingback: Artisan Beer Cheese Fondue « Art of Natural Living

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