Partying in the cold winter months brings to mind folks in thick warm sweaters, enjoying steaming hot drinks in front of a huge fireplace with fondue pots of hot cheese surrounded by wonderful items to dip. But you don’t have to have a ski chalet or snow in order to host a fondue party–try this easy menu for a casual gathering at home!
This kind of party would be great after your guests have been outdoors indulging in an active sport like skating, biking, or running or sledding or playing in the snow. But a fondue party would be just as wonderful on any chilly night! Have hot drinks when your guests arrive–mulled wine, hot chocolate or special coffees.
Fondue is considered a Swiss national dish–it is a dish of melted cheese served in a communal pot heated over a candle or gel chafing dish fuel and served by dipping bread or other foods into the cheese using long-stemmed forks.
If you don’t have a fondue pot, see if you can borrow one or more or buy one. Be sure you have several cans of gel chafing fuel like Sterno. You could also gather a few slow-cookers to use, or buy an inexpensive candle-lit chocolate fondue pot. These are good to use for cooking in case you lose power during the winter months.
Cheese fondue consists of a blend of cheeses, wine and seasoning. Prepare the pot by rubbing it first with a cut garlic clove. White wine or beer is slightly heated with cornstarch, and then grated cheese is added and stirred until melted. The cornstarch or other starch is added to prevent separation. The mixture is stirred continuously as it heats in the fondue pot. When it is ready, guests dip cubes of bread speared on a fondue fork into the mixture.
You can prepare your fondue using one of many recipes you can find on the Internet, or you can buy a prepared cheese fondue that just requires heating at your grocery. Then you can provide a variety of food items like chunks for French or artisan bread, cooked sausages, beef, pork, or chicken chunks, apple slices, cooked broccoli florets, or grape tomatoes, to dip into the fondue.
You can also prepare a dessert fondue of chocolate or caramel in which your guests can dip strawberries, grapes, apple slices, banana slices, pineapple chunks, marshmallows, cut-up cake or brownies, or even pretzels.
Make sure you have plenty of small china or disposable plates so your guests can put their dipped goodies on them as they lift them from the fondue on the fondue forks. You may also want to have wooden barbecue skewers or long toothpicks for guests to use in dipping.
This is not a party that requires any special decorating; just straighten up your party space, perhaps set out some fat pillar candles or votives, and you are ready to go. If you have a usable fireplace, bring in the logs and light the fire (or turn on the gas logs). Set up a jazzy musical playlist, so you’ll have a great vibe going when your guests arrive.
For your party, you can serve your fondue at the dining room for a sit-down meal accompanied by a tasty green salad, or you can provide several eating stations in your kitchen or family room so your guests can move around or sit in the comfortable seating of your family room.
After your guests have indulged, you might want to play games–have large pillows for guests to sit on around your coffee table on which to play. You might even push back the furniture for dancing.
So keep fondue ingredients in your refrigerator for an impromptu party any time. Fondue parties are fun for your own family, neighbors or broader circle of friends! Enjoy!