Cheese Fondue - need ideas for side dishes and drinks, please

I’m having a few friends over for dinner on New Year’s Eve and I thought about serving fondue. I have a gorgeous heavy cast-iron LeCruset fondue pot and I thought this would be a good occasion to use it. I also have a really good cheese fondue recipe from The Joy of Cooking. But I need help with the following

  1. What besides bread chunks can I use for dipping in the cheese? I mean, of course I’ll offer bread, but is there anything else?

  2. What would be a good starter course?

  3. What for side dishes?

  4. What would you want to drink with cheee fodue? Beer or wine? Or should I offer both?

  5. What would be a good dessert?

Thanks for any suggestions you can give me!

Apple chunks work very well in a fondue, as do various veggies, such as cauliflower and grilled (roasted) asparagus tips. I would have dishes with toasted sesame seeds and poppy seeds to roll the dipped pieces in. A good salad with a vinagrette dressing of some kind would be a good starter.

And a nice, crisp dry white wine is a good beverage. Make sure your bread is French baguette or other hearty, crusty fare.

Oh, and I would keep desert light and simple, like a peach or lemon sorbet.

Pfff, the best follow-up dessert for a cheese fondue is very obviously a chocolate fondue. :slight_smile:

I second the apple suggestion. They’re just delicious smothered in cheese, especially if you’re using nice sharp cheeses in your fondue pot.

Martha Stewart suggests:

Cubed breads and grissini (breadsticks)
Steamed new-potato wedges
Bell-pepper strips
Sliced fennel in lemon juice
Blanched broccoli and cauliflower
Prosciutto or bresaola slices
Peeled boiled shrimp
Whole cherry or grape tomatoes
Pitted green or black olives
Pickled onions, mushrooms, cornichons, or gherkins
Madeleines and pound-cake cubes
Shortbread cookies
Fresh strawberries and melon, pear, pineapple, apple, and orange pieces
Candied ginger and dried fruit

I think a better question is, “What doesn’t go with fondue?” Seriously, you can use damn near anything. There’s a restaurant called La Fondue down in the South Bay (Saratoga, CA) that is one of the best dining experiences you will ever have. They have probably everything suggested so far, as well as various kinds of grilled and braised and roasted meats. The only thing I would advise against is stuff that falls apart too easily, as it will tend to disintegrate into the sauce.

I’ll second having chocolate fondu for dessert. A very simple recipe: Melt 2 (or more) big Cadbury Fruit and Nut Bars with 1/2 cup heavy cream (or more if needed to get the righ consistency). Items to dip: pound cake, strawberries, bannanas, etc.

As for drinks, wine is fine - go for something nice and crisp like a Sauvignon Blanc. Beer is good. Any beer. For the designated drivers etc. apple cider is a good choice. If you’re going to have a traditional fondue, you might want to take a break in the middle the cheesy goodness. This is a good time to break out the Calvados.

For heartier dippers, you might try pieces of ham or smoked sausage, such as summer sausage.

The first rule of Fondue is that there are no rules to Fondue!

You dip whatever you please, and since pretty much everything can be improved with the presence of cheese, that allows for a lot of choices!

(The second rule of Fondue is if you drop something into the pot, you must kiss the person to your left)

I second the suggestion to finish off with a chocolate fondue, and I’d recommend a decent port to go with it (I love port and chocolate!)

I make fondue regularly and have found these hints helpful.

You can serve the same wine you use to make the fondue. It will go very well and I know you would never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink, right?

DO NOT cut your bread, rip it. Hand ripped bread looks better and all the irregular surfaces hold onto the cheese much better.

Toast half your bread for variety. I find putting the ripped bread on a baking sheet at 400 deg for a couple minutes, just until the surface is a little crusty but has not browned at all, makes for better dipping and better texture.

Oh, and mnemosyne, I always heard that if a woman dropped something in the pot she had to kiss the host (presumed to be male, these are old rules), while if a man dropped something in he had to buy a bottle of wine for the table.

Also, I love to overdo things and have a cheese fondue appetizer followed by a meat in oil fundue course followed by chocolate fondue for dessert. For most people this is too much though and most probably I have encountered would prefer to have either cheese fondue or chocolate dessert fondue, but not both in the same evening.

Oh, and use Gruyer and Emmentaller. I find they work well together. You may want to make a small test batch first to make sure it is not at all salty tasting. I have found that with some of the cheeses I can get here the final product comes out way too salty though I have added none.

Good luck, hope it all turns out.

Dear Chefguy, Anigen, Walloon, Sturmhauke, as u wish, Tapioca Dextrin, mnemosyne and flight,
Thank you very much for these excellent suggestions. Because of you guys, this is going to be one heck of a great fondue party. Does any of you live near Boston? You’re invited. No, seriously, I mean it. Email me.

I’m on the other side of the country, unfortunately. Thanks though.

Speaking of fondue, I read in the newspaper today that a fondue-pot is one of the most expensive houseware items because the cost of operating it (I’m guessing the heating of it) is sky high. They wrote that it costs in the neighborhood of 600 kronors per usage. That would translate to about $80 US. That blew me away. Not that it matters, since I’ve never had fondue (though someday I would like to).

Being in a different time zone might make things tricky, but I will be fonduing this weekend :cool:

Whoever wrote that article is a moron. This site lists the operating costs of various appliances based on a price of $.06 per kilowatt-hour. Basically, if you run a 1000 W appliance for an hour, you spent 6 cents. My fondue pot is rated at 1000 W, which is probably fairly common.