Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fondue Battles: Switzerland v USA

To celebrate that I finished my first exam for the doctorate and thank some of the amazing people that helped me in the process, this past weekend we had a Foundue party. We hadn't had one since my boyfriend turned 30 and we started living in NYC.

My original idea was to have a cheese and a chocolate fondue. But after a lot of consideration, reading online about fondue recipes and following cheesemongers recommendations on Twitter, I decided to have two cheese fondues instead. The challenge was to choose cheeses that were sufficiently different, but still kept true to the idea of good melting cheese.

I must confess here that despite growing up eating fondue made from a premix that my mom bought from the fancy gourmet store in Mexico. I don't know much about the story of how this dish came to exist. I'm sure there are some genius anecdotes and probably some big politics on having cheese melted for a meal. I promise to investigate and blog about it soon (if you have any ideas please post them on the comments section).

For now let me go back to the ingredients part of the dish: cheese! So, at the end I decided that the best thing was to make a traditional Swiss fondue with a twist and an American artisan cheese pot to compare them.

I was not only looking to compare flavor, I was also trying to see if there was something in the cheese making technique that finally affected the way the cheese melts in the pot and taste of the mix. To pair I had steamed broccoli, cauliflower and roasted potatoes; plus the traditional crusty bread. I like red wine with fondue, my guests mention that white was recommended, but at the end we end up drinking all the wine in the house; white and red.

The Swiss pot (orange pot in the photos) had Emmental, Gruyere and Vacherin Friborgeois Alpage added complexity.

Landaff (NH) and Tarentaise (VT) were the American selections (yellow pot in the pictures).

While both were very good, I think the best mix was the Swiss one. Not only the texture was better, but also the cheese did not burn so much at the bottom. The American was good at the beginning but after a while the flavor was that of smoky cheese. The Swiss pot was a little sharp, and I think this was because the Vacherin was too pungent to begin with and I had too much of it in the mix.

Overall we had a great time, no cheese was left and I learn that I need to pay more attention to the quantities and ratios. I will continue to experiment with smaller batches and trying other American cheeses. Next time I will try those that are closer to the Alpine style and see if that changes the way the cheese melts and mixes.

No comments:

Post a Comment