Monday, 8 February 2010

Hot & Cheesy

Week 6

Is it me or is retro the one thing that never goes out of fashion? From Abba to flares to Dynasty style shoulderpads, it's always the rage. Depending on how long her new husband will last, maybe Katie Price's next target will be Peter Stringfellow, so she too can be on trend. Do we care?!

And apparently the retro thing is happening in food too. From the ubiquitous prawn cocktail (slightly updated to include crayfish now) to the comfort food of fish fingers (but this time made of real fish) to the nostalgia of jam roly poly, it's all back in vogue.

So in keeping with that retro theme, and in response to a request, this week's Food of the Week is...

Cheese Fondue!

For anyone lucky enough to be able to go skiing, this is a fairly predictable menu choice. Apparently it was also fairly predictable on dinner party menus in the 70's (as was throwing your keys in the middle of the table) and is back in fashion once more (key swapping non-obligatory). So dust off those skewers and get melting.

Like anything, the final result will depend greatly on the ingredients that go in and the official recipe for a fondue is a combined weight of 600g made up of three Swiss cheeses (important to be authentic), about half a bottle of white wine (leaves plenty for the cook), a bit of cornflour and a few tablespoons of kirsch. Plus some pepper, garlic and accompaniments (Abba compulsory). Full recipe below

Three really good Swiss cheeses to use in a proper cheese fondue are gruyere (6 parts), vacherin fribourgois (2 parts) and bergkase (2 parts). The best gruyere that I have found in London is at KaseSwiss. With the best balance of salty/sweet/creamy/nutty-ness, I am officially addicted. And after two weeks' additional storage due to snow delayed flights, friends still raved over the vacherin fribourgois from the same supplier.

n.b. for those who can't get to London, Waitrose's gruyere is acceptable - it's just not nearly as good as this one!

So what's the difference?

KaseSwiss sources the best quality traditional cheeses from Switzerland by working with small owner operated cheese makers. Because of this, the flavours are much more distinct than those of cheeses large supermarkets can source on a large scale.

Really, you have to go and try some and then you'll know what I mean!

Best Way to Serve

Once your fondue is bubbling, serve with pickled baby onions, gherkins and chunks of white bread to dip into the cheese

Health warning! Don't drink water with fondue as it doesn't mix well with the cheese. Stick to the white wine! (A Swiss person told me that)

Where can I buy them and what's it going to do to my bank balance?

Price: £25 for 1kg
You can also get a fondue mix so you don't have any of the faff which costs £12.

KaseSwiss is in the Jubilee part of Borough Market on Thursdays. Fridays and Saturdays

Restaurant of the Week


This week's choice is Brindisa, now at three locations at London Bridge (Tapas Brindisa), Soho (Tierra Brindisa) and South Kensington (Casa Brindisa).

You may recognise the Brindisa name as the makers of La Chinata paprika which I mentioned a few weeks ago. Their restaurants are great - don't waste your money on big commercial chains when you can eat here!

I've only eaten at the London Bridge branch but everyone I know who has eaten at the others says that they are even better so I would have no hesitation in recommending them. Cost-wise it's medium spend at about £30 per head

Why is it good?
1) The food is fresh, you can see it being made/carved/chopped and it's a great atmosphere
2) They have interesting and more authentic tapas than any chain could offer
3) They have a good selection of wines by the glass

A must is the pimientos del padron (watch out for the 1 in 15 which blows your socks off), the tortilla and any of the hams.

n.b. you can't book at London Bridge

Cut a clove of garlic in half and wipe around the inside of the fondue pot
Add the white wine and heat, then gradually add the grated cheese. Mix some cornstarch and kirsch into a paste and add in slowly.
Keep stirring and add more wine if the mixture gets too thick.

Tapas Brindisa on Urbanspoon

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