Last Saturday, I went to Gourdo’s at Glorietta 5 and bought a fondue set. The pot with the stand and plate cost P400.00; the forks went for P280.00.
Two days later, we were in the bookstore and my daughter Sam showed me a book called The Fondue Bible and I’ve been poring over it since. Got it for half the price too. It was the last copy, frayed around the edges but good in every way.
After all the reading, I have learned that there are four basic kinds of fondue — cheese, dessert, broth and oil. Heating can be by candle or alcohol burner. Ceramic and earthenware pots are okay with both kinds of heat but metal fondue pots are required for oil fondue. Well, that’s okay because, at this point, I am really not interested in oil fondue. I’ve been dying to do cheese and dessert fondue, and learning that broth fondue is just as interesting and versatile is a nice bonus.
What’s so special about the fondue anyway? It’s fun. It’s like eating in a campfire albeit in the comfort of one’s home. A new way to enjoy food and a whole new way to get creative too.
I’ve been waiting for the perfect time to try and make my first cheese fondue and yesterday seemed perfect. After a quick trip to the bank and builders’ supply (we’re constructing an outdoor kitchen but I’ll tell you about that another time), we passed by The French Baker at the Sta. Lucia East Mall for a loaf of crusty bread that we could dunk in the cheese fondue. Because the cheese fondue must be served immediately, I didn’t start preparing it until Alex was home from school.
I followed everything that the cookbook said (I tend to be formulaic when trying out something totally unfamiliar) paying special attention to the part that says it is alcohol (a.k.a. wine) that gives cheese fondue its smooth and consistent texture. Finally, it was ready. I had to ask Speedy and Alex to wait a few moments longer so I could take photos.
Right after that photo was taken, we dug in. Alex’s first reaction was that it tasted weird. I tried it and weird was an understatement. Something was terribly wrong. Wrong wine and cheese combination? Should I have added salt? Speedy suggested pepper but then again he puts freshly ground pepper on everything these days. He bought a new pepper mill (a thing of beauty, I must admit) and he is so enamored with the thing that he cracks pepper over and into everything — including the sink, the top of the kitchen island, the teacups… He just likes the grinding sound I guess. And he likes to marvel at how well he can control the fineness or coarseness of the grind.
I guess no one wanted to diss me so Speedy and Alex continued to go through the motion of dipping bread in the cheese fondue. But I could see the expression on their faces and Alex, especially, looked like she would rather spit the thing out.
When, suddenly, from outside the house we heard the familiar sing-song voice: “Baluuuut! Baluuuuuuuut!” Speedy asked who wanted balut and I think we said yes before he finished asking. The balut vendor’s voice was already getting fainter and fainter. I ran and threw the front door open and screamed after the vendor, “BALUUUUUUT!!!”
Speedy took some money and stepped out to buy balut. Meanwhile, Alex brought out the cream cheese from the fridge resigned to the fact that she’ll have to eat her wonderful crusty bread with cream cheese. I asked her to take the butter out too.
So, we gorged on balut. And bread. With cream cheese and butter. Never mind the cheese fondue. I’ll try again next time. The photo looks great at any rate.