At one time, fondue pots were the rage as wedding presents. Alas, this has gone out of fashion, but fondue is still a special treat. It does require long forks to spear the bread and a pot that can be kept warm over an alcohol burner.
The first trick to a good cheese fondue is using decent cheese. Don't try substituting an inferior cheese for the Gruyere or it will seize up on you. The second trick is to coat the cheese with flour, so it will not separate. Another trick is to be sure the fondue does not overheat.
Day-old bread works a bit better than fresh. Be sure to add a green salad to the menu to round it out. If it gets “gluey,” add a bit of liquid and reheat slowly, stirring. I have substituted Parmigiano Reggiano for the Emmenthaler with success.
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed with salt
2 cups dry white wine
14 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
7 ounces Emmenthaler cheese, grated
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon kirsch (optional)
Freshly ground pepper
Dash cayenne pepper
1 long loaf of French bread, cubed
Heat the garlic and wine in an earthenware or fondue-type pot until it just simmers (don't let it boil). Meanwhile, toss the cheese in a bowl with the flour to coat. Add the cheese to the wine 1 cup at a time, stirring each addition until it melts. When the cheese is melted, stir in the kirsch if using and add the salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. Remove to the alcohol burner and keep the heat low enough so it won't burn and high enough that it stays melted.
Spear the bread cubes with the forks and dip into the pot of melted cheeses.
Nathalie Dupree is the author of 13 cookbooks, most recently “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.” She lives in Charleston and may be reached through Nathaliedupree.com.