According to Wikipedia:
Fondue (/ˈfɒndjuː/ or /ˈfɒnduː/; French pronunciation: [fɔ̃dy]) is a Swiss, Italian, and French dish of melted cheese served in a communal pot (caquelon) over a portable stove (réchaud), and eaten by dipping long-stemmed forks with bread into the cheese. It was promoted as a Swiss national dish by the Swiss Cheese Union (Schweizerische Käseunion) in the 1930s, and was popularized in North America in the 1960s.
I had only seen Fondue on television on 1960s themed shows like “That 70’s show.” It looked delightfully uncool and tasty. I often wondered if anyone still did it or if it was just a fad that eventually faded out due to obvious impractically. I’m happy to report that it still happens and it’s super fun, if you’re as into nostalgia as I am.
If you have ever been to a fancy wedding, you’ve likely already experienced the Fondue’s slightly fancier sister, the chocolate fountain. You’ve probably attempted to take a couple of pieces of dessert, dip them, and then walk away daintily to appear as if you weren’t wishing the host had just be reasonable enough to give you one large piece of chocolate cake to save some time; not to mention being able to avoid the embarrassment of feeling like a messy giant.
I had seen melting pot equipment at Target which seemed like too great of an expense for something I wasn’t willing to turn into a lifestyle. They also had the cheaper $15.00 option that consisted of a small ceramic bowl with a candle on the bottom, is for chocolate only and sold around Valentine’s day for couples to enjoy. How would such an introvert do something associated with communal dining and have any kind of desire to make it a nightly habit? No thanks.
It took me a while to realize that I could finally conquer the entire fondue experience locally, without having to commit to the purchase of a melting pot and without having to find Doc Brown and ask him for a ride to the 1960s. I wish that I had done the research without discouraging myself from looking into it a long time ago.
Believe it or not, you can have a three course Fondue meal as we did at Rok N Fondue in Redlands, California. Our appetizer consisted of bread, crisp vegetables and green apples to dip in a melted cheddar cheese blend. I chose the Cap Sirloin Steak cooked on a rok (volcanic rock block heated to 900 degrees), with bacon baked green beans and garlic mashed potatoes. As a dessert, we shared a tray of rice crispy treat squares, brownie squares, sliced bananas and apples with the cookies and cream melted chocolate blend. It was a great opportunity to have an amazing meal, do a little bit of cooking, share and have great conversation. There were a couple technical difficulties with the equipment, but the customer service was amazing. I highly recommend it for a date night, family meal or with great friends for a birthday celebration. I would have to caution that it may not be suitable for families with very young children as fire and hot melted things further than an arm’s reach don’t go well together.
As I mentioned before, the best known Fondue restaurant in California is The Melting Pot with 10 locations throughout California. It’s fairly expensive and mainly in larger cities such as San Diego and Irvine, but very well-organized and decadent.
There is also a spot called Hip Kitty in Claremont for those of you who might be into more of the nostalgic feel and jazz. Be forewarned, I’ve been told by a good friend that it’s a bit of a “hole in the wall” spot. So if you are into taking a plunge into adventure and totally new experiences, that might be the spot for you.
These places all allow walk-ins, but for your best bet, make a reservation at least a week in advanced. The spots tend to be very popular and have a limited amount of set ups.
Is there any food trend you think is noteworthy? Have you ever tried Fondue? If so, what are your favorite combinations?
If there are any events, locations or cultural issues related to California that you have questions about or would like me to cover in this blog, please let me know!