Half and Half, But Both Halves Cheese
While spending time in the Swiss region of Gruyère, it wasn’t very difficult to know what to order at meals. As the saying goes, “when in Rome…,” right?! So it was meringues à la crème double for dessert, and for savory, Gruyère cheese in all its glory. Especially fondue!
It was hard to find a restaurant without fondue on the menu. But you’re not completely off the hook on making decisions – you still have to choose which fondue! You’ll find different combinations of cheese or even some including other ingredients, like mushrooms, tomatoes or herbs. One place we ate at actually had fondue made with Champagne. Whatever the case, for every city or region or even country that you visit, you will find just as many answers for what is the “traditional” recipe for fondue. Swiss versus French. Beaufort versus Appenzeller. Kirsch, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, lemon juice… what else to add? As long as you are in Gruyères, Switzerland though, what is true and authentic is unanimous. Moitié-Moitié, the half and half fondue, reigns.
A good thing about the variety of fondue on one menu is that whether you are 2 or 10 people at the table and you all want fondue, you don’t have to agree on which one. Just get fondue for one person! It has become somewhat of a norm for us, but I will admit that individual fondue was a funny concept when we first arrived in Switzerland. I had never seen it before, but it is quite common for people to order single portions. And why not? Everything is the same, it just comes in a small pot. Quite logical in fact. So one time, I had my fondue with chanterelles, and my husband had his without. Another fondue during our short stay was the obligatory classic recipe, the half and half – and this one was in a pot for two. I am sure you all guessed one of the halves: Gruyère cheese, of course. The other: Vacherin Fribourgeois. Vacherin is another mild cow cheese that melts extremely well, and lends a thick, creamy texture, as well as a very pleasant taste, to the fondue. I don’t mean to take sides, but I will be honest and say that this was my favorite fondue yet. It was much softer in taste, with a less pronounced flavor of alcohol, and still irresistibly creamy – as most fondues tend to be.
Below you will see the classic recipe for the Moitié-Moitié. Feel free to try it at home and practice your fondue etiquette, which is very important! Always keep in mind a few things, and you’ll be a pro in no time. First, make sure your piece of bread is real secure on your fondue fork – people have all sorts of funky rules and traditions about how to handle the person whose bread falls in the pot! Next, don’t just dip your fork in the cheese, but stir it around a few times (some people will say in a figure eight), so that the fondue keeps its creamy consistency and does not separate. Lastly, it’s not recommended to drink cold water with your fondue, as this may cause the hot cheese in your stomach to congeal. Wine would be a much better option. Once you’ve mastered the traditional half and half recipe below, you may even start experimenting on your own with different cheeses. But if you’re calling it a Moitié-Moitié, and telling anyone in the region of Gruyère about it, I’d be sure to make sure one of those halves is Gruyère!
Fondue Moitié-Moitié (Half and Half)
1 garlic clove, cut in half
3.5 cups (400 grams) Gruyère cheese, grated
4 Tblsp cornflour
1.5 cups (3.5 dl) white wine
1 Tblsp fresh lemon juice
3.5 cups (400 grams) Vacherin Fribourgeois cheese, grated
2-3 Tblsp (3?4 cl) Kirsch
Rub the interior of your fondue pot with the garlic clove. Add the Gruyère and the cornflour to the pot, followed by the wine and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, and add the Vacherin, while continuing to stir until smooth. The fondue should no longer boil. Add the Kirsch. Keep the fondue warm, with the pot sitting on its burner.
Serve with bite-sized pieces of bread, small boiled potatoes, gherkins (cornichons) and pickled onions.