It's been a busy food week here at CO HQ. Had a fantastic dinner at Fiorella's - their recent renovation has added just enough space so you can breathe (and a gorgeous bar besides), but not so much that you feel overwhelmed - it still has that neighborhood joint feel. They also have some new dishes (peppers stuffed with DePasquale sausage...omgwtf good) that definitely should be checked out. And yesterday, we went to the Wellfleet OysterFest, which was so amazing that it definitely deserves an entry of its own. But first...the fondue.
We had a run of rainy days last week, and by Friday I was craving something soothing and warming...and for some reason, that translated to the Brie and Black Truffle Fondue with Truffle Oil from Sprigs . I know I rave about this dish all the time, but it is seriously that good - luscious and moan-worthy, the very definition of Culinary Orgasm. Having just come off the Fiorella's dinner Thursday and needing to turn in early to get an early start at Oysterfest pretty much negated a Sprigs trip (though I do love it so), so it was time to make my first fondue. Sadly, I don't tend to keep black truffles around (I do have a budget, you know !), but I do know where to get a fantastic truffled cheese (Sottocenere al Tartufo at Russo's, though Trader Joes makes a great bargain alternative with their Italian Truffle Cheese). And I do have a weakness for good truffle oil...which luckily is cheaper than actual truffles.
So it turns out fondue is actually fairly easy to make - I thought, being French and all, that there would be all sorts of complicated steps, involving fetching water from a moonlit spring while singing Edith Piaf . Luckily, it's not quite so complex :)
The first step is to rub the inside of your saucepan with garlic. Seems a bit of overkill - why not just throw it in ? Now having done it,, though, I can see why classic fondues are done that way - actual bits of garlic would be way too strong. Add some sort of liquid to your lovely essence of garlic, gently heat, and add your cornstarch-dusted cheesy goodness cubes. Get it all melted, gooey and delicious, add more flavoring if desired, and serve with your favorite dippables - cubes of good bread, slices of sausages, bits of Granny Smith apples, lightly steamed asparagus and/or broccoli, tiny boiled potatoes...the sky's the limit. Voilà - a perfect intimate dinner for two, or a fantastic appetizer to awaken the palate...definite Culinary Orgasm !
Fondue with Truffles and Brie
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 cup white wine
1/2 lb Brie, outer rind removed, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 lb cheese with black truffles (Sottocenere al Tartufo , Trader Joe's Italian Truffle Cheese, or similar), cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 pinch nutmeg
2 tablespoons truffle oil
Rub the inside of a heavy saucepan generously with the garlic clove, and discard. Add the wine to the pot and heat to a gentle simmer. Toss the cheese cubes with the cornstarch and add to the wine. Whisk mixture constantly until it is melted and smooth. Add nutmeg, remove from heat, and stir in the truffle oil. Transfer to fondue pot is using, and serve with your choice of dippables.
Suggested items for dipping :
Cubes of bread - French, sourdough, Pugliese...
Tiny whole boiled potatoes
Italian or garlic sausage, cooked and sliced
Slices of dry sausage (Abruzzese is wonderful !)
Granny Smith apple slices