Emmentaler cheese: keep calm and fondue on

Emmentaler cheese: keep calm and fondue on

I’m doing a little 1970s fondue party this week and looking forward to it. I even found a 1970s avocado green “Daisy” fondue set (with colour-keyed skewers) — still in the original box and unused — on Kijiji! It has to be worth thousands. (Incidentally, I had a bit to say about local fonduta — the Italian version of fondue — done at Kitchener’s Rhapsody here).

The fondue is a Swiss alpine classic of communal dining (and somewhat ironic kitschiness) that poses little tricks and hazards: it takes a deft touch to prevent the cheese from clumping up into a ball, proteins acting as they do in the heat. The wine helps and introducing the cheese slowly, in small bits and not letting things get too, too hot.

That said, a favourite cheese for fondue is Swiss Emmentaler — taler being German for “valley.” So, if you take a cheese made in the Bern, Switzerland, Emme valley you have Emmentaler. It goes quite well with some Gruyere, wine and kirsch in the fondue pot.

Emmentaler itself has been produced since the 13th century and is one of Switzerland’s oldest cheeses. The name isn’t protected, say, like Parmigiano-Reggiano, so you will find Emmental from all kinds of wonky sources. However, the real thing is made from raw milk via grass- and hay-fed cows; a wheel of the cheese can weigh up to 200-lbs and be 45-inches in diameter. That’s a lot of holes that can be the size of a walnut. It has a buttery, slightly sweet flavour with just a bit of tang.

Keep calm and fondue on, folks!


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