When the temperature starts to plummet and the nights to draw in around mid-afternoon, it’s time to lay down some fat for the winter months ahead. Some might call it greed; I call it an evolutionary imperative. Mince pies and chocolate coins are a good start but fondues take some beating in the ‘optimum intake of calories in one sitting’ stakes.
Crikey. January was certainly a month filled with warm, cheesy comfort. So much for the new year as a time of salad and juicing; I was inundated with people sharing their cheesy recipes. Thirty-four to be precise! I hope I haven’t missed anyone and apologies if I’ve misrepresented your recipe or made your photo look wonky in any way – this month’s round-up was a Herculean task. So without further ado – get yourself a comfy chair and a glass of something, you’ll be here for a while – here’s the round-up (and exciting news about February’s Challenge)…
I’d made fondue before but this was back in the days when I was under the illusion that all British cheese was good for was toast topping and jacket potatoes, so I’d used traditional Swiss cheeses such as Emmental and Gruyère. Having garnered a reputation as the local ‘mad cheese woman’, I’d been promising some neighbours a fondue knees-up for a while. Once the date was sealed, I decided to try and create a menu from British cheeses, now that I know what a great variety of styles there are available. So, I set off for Borough Market on a cheese-quest (ensuring that I had only a limited amount of cash and no card in my wallet so I didn’t get the Borough Market red mist and end up spending £120 on partridges, quinces and kangaroo salami).
When I received a message from Les Greedy Cochons inviting me to their Secret Supper Fondue Club, I’ll admit I felt apprehensive. Firstly, it seemed to go against every aspect of Stranger Danger that had ever been drummed into me:
‘Hello, you don’t know us or even where we live but would you like to come for tea?’
‘Ooh, thank you very much. Do you have some puppies too?’
Secondly, I’ve been pretty much under house arrest by small people for the last five years and have lived my life vicariously through copies of Time Out. Secret Supper Clubs all looked to be inhabited by consummate hipsters – the sort with the attire and facial hair of nineteenth century coal magnates or post-war lindy-hoppers. The last time I was approaching cool The Levellers were in the charts and I just wasn’t sure that was going to cut it.
But then I thought about all the cheese, brushed the sick off the shoulders of my cardigan and headed off to the wilds of North London, clutching only an A-Z and a bottle of dry white wine.