The real cheese challenge…

…made my dinner tonight. We had a Fondue Savoyarde at 1800 meters above sea level and surrounded by snowy mountain peaks – you can’t get tweedier than this. The famous Fondue, a Swiss invention, is French food for people who work 12 hours a day lifting iron bars or half cows (skiing is just a modern option). It really is a heavy-weight delicacy and you’d better not count calories while enjoying it. The picture below, taken two hours ago, is somewhat misleading. You might think: well, that’s a small pot, isn’t it? But you have no idea about its depth and content.

Fondue Savoyarde: don't count the calories.

A real and véritable Savoy cheese fondue contains (for 4-5 really hungry people):

  • 500 grams of Beaufort (a magnificent raw milk cheese, as Beaufort d’Alpage traditionally produced on pastures high up in the mountains only during summer. Its nickname is: the Prince of the Alps – what more would you need to know?). You’ll need further
  • 400 grams of Comté, the signature cheese from the Franche-Comté region in Eastern France, a Gruyère type, made of raw milk, too (what else?), then
  • 300 grams of Tome de Savoie, yet another local rustic cheese from Savoy and you could even add
  • a quarter or so Reblochon, which is a beautiful, creamy, disk-shaped cheese.

To this cheese bomb you add some Kirsch (a white cherry brandy) or some white wine, some garlic, you mix it, you heat it, and you’re almost done. In other words: the pot you see above contains thousands of calories. Too much? Hell, no! It’s just alright, if you asked me, because it is an incredibly satisfying dish. Deeply convincing. Heavenly assuring, especially in winter.

Now you dip in the bread. It could be bread of all kinds, white, whole meal, corn, whatever, just make sure it isn’t fresh. The real Savoy man even cuts it into cubes in the morning in order to really have old bread in the evening. Once there, you pin the bread cubes on a long fork and dip it into the boiling pot of melted cheeses. You drill a bit to really get it, then you wind it up, fork by fork, bread cube by bread cube, it’s fun, it’s amazing, it’s the French Alps. Children love it and parents, too. Because they empty one or two bottles of Roussette wine while dipping, always a good choice when in Savoy. It’s a decent, substantial white wine, a great one in good years.


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