For fondues, there is no hard and fast rule about which cheese to use. Many are suitable. Amongst the hard cheeses, Emmental and Gruyere are the most commonly available. The semi-hard cheese Appenzell has a rich, strong fruitiness which combines well with some of the milder cheeses. Try Tilsit, the French Beaufort, the Norwegian Jarlsberg or the Italian Fontina, either alone or in combination.
Cut the garlic clove in two, and rub the inside of a heavy saucepan or fondue pot with the cut surface. Pour in the wine, and place over a gentle heat. Blend the arrowroot or potato flour with the kirsch, and put to one side. As soon as there is a fine, bubbly foam on the surface of the wine, but it is not yet boiling, start to stir in the cheese, a little at a time. Stir constantly and do not allow the mixture to boil. When all the cheese has been added and has blended in, stir in the kirsch and arrowroot mixture, and continue to cook, stirring, until the fondue begins to thicken. Stir in nutmeg, to taste, then quickly transfer the bubbling fondue, in the cooking pot, to a spirit lamp on the dining-table. Spear the cubes of bread on long forks, and dip into the hot, bubbling fondue before eating.
There are, of course, many variations on the above. The Genevois fondue might contain finely chopped dried morels, and that of the eastern cantons of Switzerland may be made with dry cider instead of wine. I have come across a recipe for pink fondue in which a dry rosé is used instead of white wine. Black truffles, cayenne pepper, mustard, tarragon, peeled and chopped tomatoes and even curry powder and diced pineapple are other published variations, none of them an improvement on the original. The fondue de l’armailli is rather nice; in it the cubes of bread speared on forks and dipped into the fondue are replaced by potatoes boiled in their skins. Kirsch is not the only eau de vie used in the fondue; one based on pears and plums might be used. If I made the fondue with cider instead of wine, I would use Calvados as the spirit.
© 1995 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.