February 22, 2024

Fondue the French Way

European Fondue: The French Way Is the Best Way
Fondue the French Way

On a recent trip to Europe, I had the opportunity to explore the scenic landscape of the French Alps, and, naturally, the first order of business was digging into the region’s cheeses. During this visit, I met a local culinary expert, Laurent, who insisted on a fondue lesson—French fondue, specifically. Prior to this, I’ve always made fondue the Swiss way, adding Kirsch, made from distilled sour cherries, and white wine. However, I learned that each fondue recipe in France is distinctly tailored to the local wine and cheese in that region. Laurent omitted the Kirsch completely from this recipe and used a white wine from the Savoie region, where we stayed. Instead of rubbing the pot with garlic, he added a minced clove straight into the melted cheese. This resulted in an irresistible blend of rich flavors and textures, with nutty notes from a local Beaufort and earthy flavors from the Tomme de Savoie. Once I returned to the United States, I was inspired to re-create the recipe for the colder winter months in New York.

For this recipe, I used three of my favorite French melting cheeses: Beaufort PDO, a young Comté PDO, and Emmental. For a white wine, I recommend a French varietal from the Jura region, the birthplace of Comté PDO. Following the adage “what grows together goes together,” these choices ensure a seamless flavor experience. I also incorporated Laurent’s garlic trick to pack in some extra flavor. This fondue embodies the essence of the French Alps, and each bite brings back memories of their snowy peaks, warm fires, and cozy chalets.

4-6 servings

  1. In a bowl, toss the Beaufort PDO, Comté PDO, and Emmental cheeses with the cornstarch until the cheese is well coated.
  2. Add the minced garlic, wine, and lemon juice, and bring to a simmer over low heat.
  3. Add the cheese mixture in batches. Using a wooden spoon, stir over moderately low heat, just until the cheese is melted and smooth, 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, and grated nutmeg to taste.
  5. Dip accompaniments like crudités and French bread into hot fondue and enjoy.