My kids don’t bring me flowers for Mother’s Day. Because they know all I really want is a vat of hot, melted cheese and a bottle of Bubbles! Our Mother’s Day tradition is to make Cheese Fondue for dinner, a culinary torch passed down from my mom. And I can’t think of anything I’d rather drink with Cheese Fondue than a bottle of Bubbles!
My gift is in the Bubbles. My kids endure a trip to the wine store (a serious sacrifice because apparently, kids find wine stores boring) and pick out a bottle of Bubbles for me (they bring dad along to make the purchase). My kids are attracted to shiny things, so the bottle with the snazziest label is usually what comes home with them. Krug really ought to have a shinier label.
If you’ve never had the pleasure, Cheese Fondue is a mixture of Grùyere and Emmentaler cheeses, melted into dry white wine and Kirschwasser (a potent cherry brandy from Germany). Fondue got its start in Switzerland in the 18th Century (give or take a few decades) as a way to use up aging cheese bits and stale bread. The local peasants figured out that they were less likely to chip a tooth on rock-hard bread if they dipped it in hot wine and cheese before eating it. Smart peasants.
This is the Cheese Fondue recipe I’ve used for 25 years. It’s adapted from The Book of Fondues, circa 1988.
Classic Swiss Fondue
1 garlic clove, halved
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Grùyere cheese
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Emmentaler cheese
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons Kirschwasser (cherry brandy)
Pinch grated nutmeg
Rub inside of fondue pot with cut garlic clove.
Pour in wine and lemon juice and cook over medium heat until bubbly. Turn heat to low and gradually stir in cheeses.
In a small bowl, blend cornstarch with Kirschwasser. Blend into cheeses and continue to cook, stirring, until mixture is thick and smooth. Do not let the fondue boil. Season with nutmeg and serve with French bread cubes and sliced apples. Makes about 4 servings.
Note: BW (Before Wegmans), I had to buy chunks of Grùyere and Emmenthaler cheese, bring them home and grate them. Now I can buy a bag of Fondue Cheese already grated and corn-starched. All I have to do is add wine and Kirschwasser. Brilliant!
So which bottle of Bubbles did my kids choose?
Moët & Chandon Nectar Imperial — I must have been a good mom this year — the kids brought me Moët & Chandon! Definitely a shiny label, it even has a crown on it! A blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. A Demi-Sec Champagne, this is a tad sweeter than a Brut style. Deliciously clean and bright with surprising tropical fruit notes. I feel like I should be drinking this in a hammock next to some crystal clear turquoise water. I was a little concerned how it would pair with the Cheese Fondue, but it stood up superbly. Not cloying at all, and a surprisingly rich yeasty finish.
Yes, my daughter has her own Champagne glass. Because I’m that mom.
Cheese Fondue is one of those foods that tastes so good to me that I keep eating it, even after I’m full. And I’m past full. It’s a good thing I remembered to wear my Fondue Pants.
My mom always says that if you lose your chunk of bread in the fondue pot, you have to clean up the kitchen. So I’m doing my best to sabotage other people’s forks.
Happy Mother’s Day to my mom . . . and all the moms out there! Salud!