fondue partay!
August 18, 2012 3:54 PM   Subscribe

My lady is at home prepping for a small fondue party that we are hosting this evening (less than 10 people) while I am stuck at work and unable to help. Beer, cheese, and dipping accouterment have been purchased. What can I pick up on my way home from work that would serve as a fantastic side dish?

I have access to a Whole Foods and a Trader Joe's, and I will probably have about 30 minutes of prep time once I'm home, although our kitchen is ridiculously hot right now so I would rather spend that time drinking beer outside.

I am looking for something savory and somewhat light to offset the massive amounts of melted cheese we are going to be consuming. I think someone is bringing fried cheese curds, too.

Also, we are vegetarian.

Thank you!
posted by justjess to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Fruit. You require fruit salad of some swanky Whole Foods variety.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:56 PM on August 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

a salad maybe? Whole Foods has terrific prepared foods (including stuff like couscous salad) and a nice salad bar; TJ's has decent bagged salad mixes with everything ready to be tossed together.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:00 PM on August 18, 2012

Dill pickles and pickled onions go nicely with melted cheese.
posted by jlibera at 4:13 PM on August 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Small or fingerling potatoes to boil and dip in cheese, and a jar of gherkins.
posted by moonmilk at 4:15 PM on August 18, 2012

Broccoli! The last time I had fondue, I brought some broccoli, which is awesome both dipped and undipped. Throw in some cauliflower, and it'd look pretty, too.
posted by smirkette at 4:15 PM on August 18, 2012

Beer with fondue? Might I suggest you try wine next time? It has a much broader range of flavors and this makes wine a prime candidate for food pairings. Cheese also is a complex food whose taste and texture can take many forms, and because of this, it is a prime candidate for pairings as well.
posted by fieldcannotbeblank at 4:22 PM on August 18, 2012

Might I suggest a bouquet of flowers? They'll a) make that lady in your life happier that she got stuck in the hot kitchen, and b) make a pretty centerpiece for your table.
posted by easily confused at 4:35 PM on August 18, 2012 [7 favorites]

Or mushrooms, mushrooms go well with fondue cheese!
posted by easily confused at 4:35 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Chocolate and strawberries!!!! Once you've finished the fondue, clean out the pot and fill it with melted chocolate (and maybe a little half & half to thin it out) and then have chocolate fondue for dessert.

Also, in contrast to fieldcannotbeblank, I've found good flavorful beers to work better with fondue than wine, so probably either is OK.
posted by Jon_Evil at 4:41 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

or fuck, screw thinning it with half & half, thin it with brandy. to do this, you'll have to melt the chocolate ahead of time on the stove over low heat (about 5 minutes) and whisk in the brandy, vigorously, to emulsify it within the chocolate (which itself is an emulsion)
posted by Jon_Evil at 4:43 PM on August 18, 2012

My Swiss inlaws would insist on white wine and kirschwasser (German or Swiss, not French) for a traditional fondue.

Although they usually use bread, broccoli and mushrooms make a good substitute.

If you can't get kirsch (by the by, if you see Etter, BUY IT NO MATTER WHAT IT COSTS. Otherwise Schladerer is pretty good, and Kamer is tolerable), Pear Williams is a decent substitute as is a nice, dry Calvados (I like Boulard, personally).
posted by plinth at 4:45 PM on August 18, 2012 [5 favorites]

Broccoli florets are already in play, along with various breads and pretzels.

I will be picking up a fancy fruit salad, some pickles, and a bouquet of flowers (extra thanks for that one, easily confused!) from Whole Foods.

Chocolate fondue, sadly, was vetoed in the planning stage. Although maybe I should also grab one of those hunks of chocolate they keep next to the cheese. You know, in case of an emergency.

plinth, I think your fondue game is several levels above mine. I'm not sure what any of those things are, though I will be googling them for future reference.

Now I'm thinking this party needs to be redone in the winter with roasted mushrooms, potatoes, brussels sprouts, etc for dipping...

Thanks very much everyone!
posted by justjess at 4:54 PM on August 18, 2012

You've probably already left work, but the key (if you're dunking into fondue) is to get firm fruits and veggies.

Chunk some green apples (the tart kind), carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. They are sturdy and have some tang to them, which helps offset the cheese. And all of them can be eaten on their own as well.
posted by frizz at 4:56 PM on August 18, 2012

Whole Foods used to do a cream cheese and apricot dip from the cheese counter. They also sold a rosemary crostini as a bundle with the dip. We used to call it "crack", and our friends agreed. Just saying :)
posted by cromagnon at 4:56 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

FYI, all the liquors I listed are eau-de-vie, which essentially means fruit-based brandies. They are also called 'digestifs'. The reason why you have them, according to my in-laws, is that cheese will stop up your intestines whereas some digestif will help keep you from getting you blocked up. Honestly, I suspect it's an excuse to get ripped, and I'm OK with that. With a traditional Swiss fondue, kirsch goes extremely well - partly because it should also be in the cheese mix, but mostly because fruits and cheese really do go together well. Beer is fine (and is part of a Welsh Rarebit), but I would be leery as I would think that the oil in the cheese would float on top of the water in the beer in your stomach and just wouldn't sit well. Then again, I think a nice, buttery Chardonnay goes well with cheese and kirsch.
posted by plinth at 5:03 PM on August 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Cheese fondue? You absolutely need a huge, leafy green salad with a suitably acetic dressing to, ahem, cut the cheese. As it were.

Schnapps for afterwards is good. Oh yes, good lord.
posted by Decani at 10:20 AM on August 19, 2012

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