White trash fondue, yo

So this is a THIRD post about food in a row, which means the planet has officially been jolted off its axis. Or that these things come in threes and I’ll stop after this. Probably.

This weekend was stressful for a variety of reasons, and about halfway through yesterday as I was ranting to Otto that I AM ON ANTIDEPRESSANTS I AM NOT SUPPOSED TO FEEL LIKE THE MOTHERFUCKING SKY IS FALLING WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? he gently asked me if maybe, possibly, I had missed a dose? And I had. So it’s possible the sky doesn’t require expletives and maybe is just drooping a little, not crashing to the ground, and also the moral of the story is that right now I am Lexapro’s bitch. So! Lesson learned.

Anyway, in the midst of the stress and the weeping and the general angst, I not only had to figure out what we were having for dinner last night, but I realized we had to have fondue.

Later today, I’ll be doing a giveaway on Want Not of a trio of extremely cool products from Uncommon Goods, and one of the three is a little fondue set, which I needed to be able to review today. Which meant we had to have fondue last night. But after dinner, because it’s a little set for two people, and given the general mayhem of the day, I did not find the idea of letting my children loose with pointy spears and molten cheese a welcoming proposition.

So: I went and got groceries—including Gruyere cheese, which turns out to be crazy expensive, and the least-bland-looking loaf of gluten-free bread I could find—and we had a normal dinner, and I wasn’t very hungry, and then after Monkey went to bed and Chickadee was SUPPOSED to be in bed but was, in fact, still skulking around making excuses for why she wasn’t ACTUALLY in bed, I set about preparing this stupid fondue that I didn’t even want.

This is a GREAT way to start a cozy, romantic evening for two!

So it turned out that the little fondue set is… European. Scandinavian? Somethingian non-American. Which meant the included recipe for fondue used measures like grams and deciliters. So here I was, going “How much is 10 2 [ed note: whoops!] deciliters of wine?” Chickadee tried to convince me that deciliters are just like millimeters (that’s our advanced math brainiac…) while Otto Googled the conversion. He then returned to the kitchen and poured what looked like nearly a cup of wine into a measuring glass, then poured it into the pan for me. We both blinked at it.

“That seems like a lot,” I said.

“It’s WINE,” he helpfully pointed out. “Wine is GOOD.”

“Okay, then!” Cheese was grated and added, and more cheese was grated and added, and eventually it became clear that I had no idea what I was doing and this fondue was rapidly becoming a fondon’t of glop. But I soldiered onward!

I was still stirring the whole mess on the stove when Otto asked if I wanted a glass of wine to go with my pot of wine. I of course said yes. So he poured two glasses of wine and took them into the family room.

After a while I added some pepper and some nutmeg and poured the whole mess into the cute little fondue carafe, and Otto took that into the family room as well. We cut up toasted slices of gluten-free bread, and then I took some leftover french fries (shut up; they were from dinner, and I made them myself from potatoes and everything) and put them on the plate as well.

Chickadee was upstairs, by then, and Otto and sat down on the couch with our wine and our fondue spread and commenced testing it out.

“Fancy cheese fries!” declared Otto, dipping a leftover fry into the dubious fondue mixture. I tried one; it wasn’t bad.

The gluten-free bread wasn’t too bad, either, though I couldn’t escape the idea that we were pretty much eating deconstructed, overpriced grilled cheese rather than having fancy fondue. This feeling only intensified when we decided to turn on the TV, and in very short order were watching a DVRed episode of CSI: New York. It takes a special kind of mindset to eat gloppy cheese with pointy forks while watching a show with that much blood and gore.

“This might be a little classier if we were listening to jazz,” Otto said, as we fast-forwarded through a commercial break. I looked at him, wine in one hand, fork in the other, thinking it was a miracle I was even awake. “But this is good, too,” he finished, hastily. I think maybe he was afraid I was going to stab him. (With the fork. I wouldn’t have wanted to spill the wine.)

Somehow, it was a fitting end to the weekend. But I think next time I may try to find a recipe I can actually follow. And maybe I’ll even turn on some jazz.


  1. Kristine N

    Too funny – sounds like something I would do.

  2. Laura

    In my opinion Gary Sinise makes everything better, even fondue that is acting up, insane teachers and kids who have lost their minds. What can I say, I have loved him since I first saw him in “Of Mice and Men.” His butt shot in “Ransom” damn near caused me to have a stroke.

    I know this has no relevance to your post, but I have to sing the Sinise praises.

  3. Caitlin

    I made goat cheese fondue once and it also came out a giant glob. We just ended up dipping anything we could find into what was just heated up goat cheese. I have no idea how people get fondue to have that soupy consistency that is so good for dipping, but whatever, it was tasty.

  4. MaryP

    Ten decilitres? Not millilitres? You’re like, exaggerating for comic effect, right? Because that would be a full litre of wine, which is somewhere in the order of four 8-ounce cups (or 6 – 8 wine-glasses, assuming you don’t drink your wine in tin mugs.) Standard sized wine bottles here are only 750 mL. That’s some expensive fondu you didn’t much enjoy… but I’m betting all that wine helped!

  5. Megan

    But! Wine! and cheese!

    I could point out that the OTHER important function of a fondue set is to melt very good dark chocolate so you can use bits of fruit as an excuse to put large amounts of it in your mouth. Yes, it’s quicker just to eat the damn chocolate, but fondue is a foreign word and foreign means stylish and stylish means ‘non-caloric due to foreign and stylish clause’.

    I have a long list of clauses which I am willing to furnish as required.

  6. Christy

    Now Mir, come on. Glorified grilled cheese? When was the last time you poured a cup of wine over your grilled cheese? Everyone knows that you dip the grilled cheese INTO your wine. It’s much better that way. It sounds totally awesome to me, though I am pretty sure I’m just bitter because I’m nursing a kid with a dairy & egg allergy and haven’t had cheese in more than six months. I would take like VELVEETA with wine at this point.

    Happy Monday!

  7. dad

    Dude, even I know that 10 deciliters is a liter and that most bottles of wine are 3/4 of a liter. That recipe must have been a doosie (sounds like it was espousiing warm wine with cheese flavoring).

    Sorry if we were contributors to your weekend stress.

  8. Melissa

    I want to eat with you, Megan and Christy.

  9. Tracy B

    I love fondue! We have a place called the Melting Pot and it’s delish!!!! Anyway, I’m liking the little fondue set and might just get it from Santa. ;o) All is better today?

  10. hollygee

    Most recipes for fondue that I’ve seen call for some cornstarch to be mixed in with the glop. Have you tried Uri’s bagels? Maybe not the chew of for real gluteny bagels, but quite a good bread! And my local Safeway carries them!

  11. Michelle

    Comments on the original post are closed, so I found the closest food-based post to tell you: your Veggie Moroccan Jambalaya? IS AWESOME. We went vegetarian in July, and it’s been challenging to find things my husband enjoys. Yay mangoes and edamame!

  12. Otto

    I think the recipe called for TWO deciliters of wine. Which we put in the pot. But we also sometimes buy the Happy Fun Bottles of wine, which would easily give us a liter and a half to work with.

    Who is all for dipping grilled cheese and cheese fries in wine now

  13. Vinobaby

    Someday I’ll post my favorite fondue recipe–it’s no fail. As much as I am a wino, fondue rocks with beer.

    Now I need some cheese. And wine. And beer. Damn.

  14. mamaspeak

    I was going to comment that you’re now hosting a food blog, but you beat me to it. We have cheese fondue about every other month. Our girls LOVE it. We like to dip apples, gherkins, pickles onions, veggies & bread, of course. I’m lazy so we usually buy the fondue from Trader Joe’s, which is totally NOM, but occasionally I’ll break out a recipe & make our own.

    I usually follow the recipe & then when cheese is obviously melted add cheese or liquid to help consistency. Next time you’re in the Bay Area you can come over & try it, (bc THAT’S not stalkerish at all!)

  15. The Mommy Therapy

    So impressed you made fondue. Fondue is one of my favorite things to eat, but I’m not sure I’d be all that excited about making it. It certainly does sound fancy and delicious though…even with french fries as part of the meal. :)

  16. Heather

    I totally want fondue now. If only I had a pot :P

  17. Heather

    (And yeah, when I heard white trash fondue I was definitely thinking Velveeta heh.)

  18. Kathie

    I heard white trash fondue and was thinking that you were fonduing hot dogs in hot oil for dinner! hee My parents in the 70’s decided to unleash that particular one on my brother and I.

  19. Jackie

    I feel ya on the Lexipro bitchies. Been there done that too many times to count. Lets just say that there is a poor walmart worker scared for life in south texas from A locking the side of the door where my car was and be daring to look at my receipt after I just paid and was locked out from my car and had to go the long way around. did I mention the freaking door was cracked and a person was standing there and could have easily let me out? OH, hehe i’ve been out of lexipro since last Friday so the meanie are coming on… sorta… or it was the flash back to that day that brought them on. ;-) I hate it when I don’t even like myself. My point is I feel your pain.

    Hope all is better now.

  20. middling

    Oh, Mir. I must defend fondue. My partner demands fondue every year for her birthday, that’s how delicious it is. And so easy! The trick to getting a smooth consistency, without the cheese irritatingly glomming together, is to mix the grated cheese with a little flour before whisking it in to the wine. Here’s the recipe, from memory (that’s how easy it is!)

    1 1/2 C white wine
    1/2 lb Gruyere, grated
    1/2 lb Emmenthaler, grated
    2 T flour
    1 + garlic clove, minced or crushed (as much as you like)
    Optional: pinch of nutmeg, splash of Kirschwasser (I never use these)

    Thoroughly toss the grated cheese with the flour, so each fragment of cheese is lightly dusted with flour. THIS IS ESSENTIAL. Heat the wine until it is bubbling lightly. Add garlic. Add cheese mixture a handful at a time, whisking until each handful starts to melt before adding the next. Add nutmeg, Kirschwasser etc. if you want. Once all the cheese has been added, it only takes a little more whisking before the fondue is all smooth and ready to eat.

    Tip: try dunking lightly cooked broccoli spears or chunks of fruit (apples and pears). It’s delicious and gluten-free!

    Also, fondue is one of the recipes where quality of ingredients REALLY MATTERS. I promise it will be noticeably more delicious with good wine and real Gruyere and Emmenthaler than if you try to skimp. And if it’s going to be a special occasion treat, it’s worth it!

  21. ben


    (that’s what I got from all this)

  22. liz

    It can’t be that white trashy – you didn’t use Velveeta. I was totally expecting Velveeta.

  23. Jen

    I totally had that moment with my Mom today that you had with Otto. I was ranting in the car after picking her up from work about how this went wrong, then that went wrong, then this just sucked…blah, blah, blah and getting more hysterical with each increasingly ridiculous declaration. I managed to stop myself and take a breath just before I whined “and I just WANT my MOMMY!” I went home and counted my meds and realized I’d missed a dose this morning. Fudge. (which incedentally, might be really good in a fondue pot) ;-)

  24. aem2

    Fun fact: in Paris and other places in France the liquids are marked in centilitres. Me being a math and physics geek, I understand this. My friend D, not being any such thing, did not. We went out for dinner once and the prix fixe menu came with 75 cL of wine. Each. She was all “Is that a cup of wine? How much is that?”

    (For the record: 1 cL = 10 mL = 0.1 dL, so 75 cL is a whole. bottle. of .wine.)

  25. Reb

    Yum, fondue. Chocolate fondue, that is, not this cheese concept. Cheese is much too healthy. Also too much like hard work.

    Take a pound or so of dark cooking chocolate buttons. Melt. Add about 1/2 cup of cream and stir like crazy until smooth. It’ll go all horrible at first but it’ll stir out. Keep adding cream (or chocolate) till the consistency’s right. That’s real liquid cream, not whipped.

    Dip chunks of fresh fruit, dried fruit (esp pineapple, apricots and dates, very yum), marshmellows and anything else that takes your fancy. Dipping cheese in the chocolate is … interesting.

  26. carson

    I just go to The Melting Pot. Measuring not required.

  27. Kirsty

    I see no one’s mentioned the beef fondue, which is also pretty delicious (but as someone who likes meat really well cooked it can be a little time-consuming…). Fondue is, unsurprisingly, pretty big here in France (though not so much where I am, in the south; it’s a mountain thing) and I really, really love it! And I would second (or third or whatever) the suggestions for a chocolate version – it’s kind of sickly if you eat too much (ahem), but with pineapple, strawberries, apple, dried apricots and the like it is truly divine…

  28. Little Bird

    It is monsterously unfair and cruel to be discussing cheese fondue (or chocolate for that matter) when I am currently on a diet that allows me none of that melty goodness. Give me a few more weeks and break out mt fondue set and try using it for the first time…. for something other than s’mores that is. But the wine, now the wine I can have, only one glass though. ‘Scuse me while I go pout.

  29. Arnebya

    Fondon’t. I snorted at that. Boy, the people in my office must love me.

  30. Kelly

    I don’t know why you didn’t just melt some dark chocolate with fruit … :). Chocolate makes everything better!

  31. Debra

    “I am Lexapro’s Bitch” I want this on a t-shirt. I have one with “Heavily Medicated for your Safety” but your quote is much better!

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