It was a rainy Sunday afternoon when five foodies congregated in the name of cheese: Deb, Bowb, friends and I. The skies were a gloomy grey, the rain pit-pattered rythmically against the windows and a winter-like chill hung in the air: it was the perfect setting for a bubbling lava of two cheeses (gruyere and emmenthal), a glug of dry white wine, a dash of sweet sherry and a spoonful of cornflour to help it thicken.
With fondue forks in hand, we had an extravaganza of choices for cheesy dipping:
Vegetables waiting for a fondue tan
Our vegetable dipping platter beheld blanched florets of cauliflower and spears of asparagus, sticks of carrot, button mushrooms, crunchy radishes, and quartered new potatoes boiled in their skin.
Bread cubes for dipping
There were cubes of walnut bread, and olive and rosemary loaf, and wedges of crisp shiny apple-all from Bowb-waiting patiently in the wings to be gloriously smothered in lashings of cheese.
To help cut through the richness of cheese, I brought along a pumpkin salad; the pumpkin was baked until it caramelised on the edges, its soft sweet pulp contrasting with crunchy asparagus spears, bright green sugar snap peas, peppery rocket, creamy chickpeas and topped with a scattering of toasted almond slivers.
Pumpkin, rocket and almond salad (made by me)
Deb's Finnish meatballs provided further distraction, plump juicy mounds of pork and beef mince that married perfectly with bright red dollops of sweet cranberry sauce.
Finnish meatballs (made by Deb)
And with the preliminary photoshoot over, the foodbloggers' cameras were temporarily retired to the sideboard.
Dessert saw the unflourishing of the famed Gjestot brown cheese, a Nordic specialty that is a dairy enigma. It tastes of caramel, it tastes of cheese. It's sweet, it's salty, it confused me so.
Eating a paper-thin sliver on its own, the taste was rather strong and uninviting after three nervous mouthfuls. Its flavour was much more subdued and palatable when paired with bread.
Gjetost brown cheese
The Gjetost's lingering tinge of sweetness led to ponderings of grilling potential, at which point a blowtorch was suddenly brandished "in the name of research".
When foodbloggers get angry
Apparently it tasted better when caramelised.
Turkish delight in mint flavour or studded with walnuts
More sweet things from D in the form of almond macaroons: soft and chewy with a golden crust, and fat heavy cubes of Turkish Delight: flavoured with mint in the colour of lime green jelly, or lightly tinged with rosewater and studded with chunks of walnut.
Strawberries in light sour cream with brown sugar
And finally a dessert from S, a family recipe of light sour cream mixed with brown sugar which was generously spooned over slices of sweet strawberry. It tasted like a liquid cheesecake and yet was light, refreshing and summery too.
Food. Friends. Fondue. How could one ask for more?
Thanks to Deb for being the perfect fondue host.
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9/12/2006 11:37:00 pm