I don't know exactly what it is about a February viewing of the Pink Panther that prompts me to bring out the fondue pot and mix up a nice warm and bubbly cheese sauce. The movie doesn't even take place in Switzerland. But something about the combination of snow, diamond thefts, goofy Inspector Clouseau, and 1960's fashion, (and let's not count out sultry Fran Jeffries dancing around the ski lodge fireplace in her slinky black cat suit while singing that Mancini classic "Meglio Stasera") matches perfectly with cheese fondue.
Use your favorite standby, or try this easy recipe.
2 cups grated Gruyere
2 cups grated Emmental
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 clove garlic, halved
1 1/2 cup dry white wine
Good squeeze of lemon juice
Splash of kirsch or cognac
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly ground nutmeg
Loaf good crusty bread, cut into small cubes
Assorted crudités or fruits such as grapes and apples, sliced or cut for dipping
Toss together cheeses and corn starch. Rub the inside of the fondue pot with garlic halves. Add the wine and heat over medium flame until hot but not boiling;stir in kirsch and lemon juice.
Add a handful of cheese at a time, stirring continuously until melted before adding another handful. When cheese is melted, mixture is bubbling gently and has the appearance of a light cream sauce, season with pepper and nutmeg.
Remove the pot from heat and place over fondue burner.
Serve with bread, vegetables, and fruit to dip.
Note: leave a thin layer of cheese on the bottom of the pot, lower the heat, and allow a crust to form. This la religieuse can be broken up into pieces and shared with guests. Possibly the best part of the pot!