Many years ago, a casual remark to a new friend about my dislike of the taste of cheese prompted an immediate invitation to a cheese fondue dinner. A Swiss native, my friend simmered Raclette in the fondue pot, and paired it with trimmings of fresh and pickled vegetables, cubes of bread, and spiced meat. This memorable meal made me a cheese convert, and it also highlighted the potential of a fondue dinner as a collaborative meal.
When A. and N. wanted to taste some of the foods they had missed but saw written up in the blog, I thought about that fondue dinner. Fondue is a good example of a communal meal that showcases a variety of different textures and flavors. Pickled pearl onions and balsamic compound butter can be worked in as accompaniments alongside chunky bread pieces and bite-size sausages to scoop or dip into melted raclette cheese. There is plenty of room for innovation and collaboration when many hands are involved. Some of our new favorites included new potatoes brushed with cumin and coriander and crisp black radish drizzled with melted balsamic butter. These side dishes, along with firm red pickled onions, were a perfect textural contrast to the semi-firm cheese.
For the Fondue:
- Heat 1 lb of Raclette or Gruyere in a ceramic fondue pot or in a pan.
- When the cheese has a runny consistency, remove from heat and serve.
- Continue to stir while warm.
- Add more cheese as needed.
- Grilled asparagus spears with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Strips of colorful bell peppers.
- Green beans drizzled with melted balsamic compound butter.
The beauty of a communal meal lies in the variety of ideas that are presented on the table. I would love to hear about your traditions or thoughts on some of your favorite side dishes.