There is an age-old tradition that one must follow if one intends to eat the fondue. Served in a communal pot or the caquelon,over a portable stove,the fondue is eaten by dipping long-stemmed forks with bread,exotic fruits,vegetables,chicken and ham into the molten,gently bubbling liquid. Tradition says that if a man loses his bread in the pot,he must buy drinks all around,and if it is a woman,she must kiss her neighbour.
Dripping with traditions and folklore from the countries of its origin Switzerland,France and Italy the fondue is now becoming increasingly popular in Pune. Traditionally prepared with cheese,chefs in the city are experimenting with different flavours that include both sweet and savoury varieties.
At Greens and Olives in Aundh,chefs Parshuram Parida and Kishan Singh serve a hot caquelon of molten chocolate along with pieces of fruits and scoops of ice cream. The chocolate mixture serving contains almost 75ml of caffeine. This gives a slightly bitter and aromatic tinge to the mixture. It balances out the sweetness of the chocolate, says Parida.
The cheese fondue consists of a blend of cheeses,wine and seasoning. The caquelon is first rubbed with a cut garlic clove to prepare it. White wine,cheese and kirsch are added and stirred until melted. A small amount of cornstarch or other starch is added to prevent separation. The mixture is stirred continuously as it heats in the caquelon. When it is ready,diners dip cubes of bread speared on a fondue fork into the mixture. A cheese fondue mixture should be kept warm enough to keep the fondue smooth and liquid but not so hot that it burns, adds Parida.
Most chefs recommend each morsel to be put in the pot only once (no double-dipping) and that the dipping fork be used only to transport the food from the pot to ones plate,not to eat. Chef Alpan Govitrikar from Out of the Blue at University Road says he cant stress enough on the consistency of the caquelon liquid. It must not be as thick as a paste,yet not runny. It should have the perfect consistency to coat the bread or vegetable perfectly, he says.
Chef Govitrikar says the most popular version of the fondue that he serves is the Desi fondue. Prepared with cheese,ajwain,coriander and the traditional curry powder,the bubbling golden mixture is to be savoured with cubes of paneer or gently roasted vegetables. We have other versions of the fondue as well, he adds. Chicken and ham fondue,Pizza fondue,Caribbean fondue and the Peanut-butter chocolate fondue, he says.
Served across the city at various places including Squisito in Koregaon Park,Mezza 9 in Hinjewadi and 11 East Street Cafe in Camp,the dripping hot food item is finding many takers in the city. The best part about eating fondue is that it brings a feeling of togetherness. Since it is to be shared by at least four people,we enjoy it more, says Roshni Samarth,a foodie from Kondhwa.