Pros: Delicious recipes; a wide variety of cheese fondues
Cons: No non-cheese main course fondues; textures tended to be off
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
I love fondue, absolutely adore it. Maybe it’s because it was a special birthday treat when I was growing up, just my mother and I sharing a homemade fondue dinner. Maybe it’s because of the variety—you have a wide range of “dippers” and something delicious (often quite sinful) to dip them in. My favorite special-occasion restaurant is The Melting Pot, particularly as the folks running our local establishment seem to set high standards for the place and are very friendly. There’s nothing like a fondue dinner to make you slow down, relax, and take your time, which makes it the perfect opportunity to spend time with folks you like; you can easily chat for an hour while swirling bread cubes through melted cheese, dipping cubes of steak in boiling broth, and drenching fruit in molten chocolate.
Lenny Rice and Brigid Callinan’s Fondue starts off with basic ratios of cheese to liquid and starch; tips for holding a themed fondue party; dipping ideas; and notes on various types of fondue pots and fuel.
White not exactly a negative, I should note so you know what to expect from this book that it consists of three different chapters of cheese fondues and one of dessert fondues—no non-cheese main-course fondues. Since I’m accustomed to thinking of fondue equally as broth- or oil-based fondues, I was a little surprised at their omission. The cheese chapters include some basic cheese fondues, gourmet fondues, and “melted makeovers” or fondues meant to replicate the flavors of such things as pizza. There’s also a homemade dippers chapter including such delights as donut holes and pound cakes.
The flavors were uniformly delightful. The cheese and base combinations worked beautifully. The desserts are delectable. I’m thrilled that we have leftover dulche de leche, because it’s fabulous in coffee as well as on fruit. We made both simple and gourmet recipes, and wow, did they bowl us over. The boursin and camembert fondue was our favorite of the cheese fondues we made, but I still have to say that the dulche de leche beat everything else simply because, well, it’s dulche de leche!
The cheese fondue recipes aren’t entirely kid-friendly; the vast majority of them use alcohol as a base, and while of course the majority of the alcohol cooks off, I think most kids would still be able to taste the flavor of it (certainly I could). This is a bit of a shame, as fondue can be great fun for kids. However, you should be able to substitute apple juice for wine or beer in many of the recipes without it affecting them adversely (apple juice is one of their own suggestions for possible bases).
We also had some difficulties with the texture of some of the cheese fondues. They kept separating, which I’m not accustomed to, and the authors’ directions for fixing such separation never worked for us. This didn’t affect the flavor, but it did make the fondues a little less attractive. If you plan on just enjoying them at home with your spouse that’s fine, but if you want to put on a festive fondue party for others that might not make you so happy.
This fondue book is certainly well-worth checking out, particularly if you enjoy cheese or dessert fondue as a treat with your spouse and won’t mind the occasional separated fondue.