Moitié-Moitié Swiss Fondue

by Jenn on November 8, 2010

in Gluten Free,Photography,Vegetarian

A proper Swiss fondue

When I first announced to the world that I was moving to Switzerland, I had no clue the adventure I was about to embark on.  However, the first week after we actually arrived en Suisse was rather tough.  We came just in time for the New Year, and then proceded to starve for 3 days because New Years Day, Jan. 2nd, and the next day, Sunday, meant that all the major stores were closed.  Not knowing the city, having no internet or knowing where to go for internet to look things up, no phone, and no way of contacting anyone that we knew who spoke English, and a more than bare bones “hotel”, we were pretty much stranded for a few days.  I remember once we figured out that everything was closed, I rationed my yogurt and the couple croissants that I had purchased the day before.  We didn’t know there were stores like Coop Pronto that were open when everyone else was closed.  We didn’t know how to ask strangers on the street if anything was open or where to go, we just assumed everything wasn’t because what we saw wasn’t.

Luckily, despite our rather unhappy beginnings due to some rather poor planning on our part, we also quickly learned the meaning of Swiss hospitality.  We found that Starbucks had free wifi, and a couple of emails later, one of our colleagues generously offered to us his place for a few weeks, which also included access to a kitchen, a shower that 30 other people weren’t also using, and the internets, our lifeline to the rest of the world.  When stores did open, we went into a small shop to buy groceries, and upon learning the other lesson that not everyone takes credit cards or traveler’s checks, found an incredibly trusting and nice shopkeeper who told us it was ok, to take our groceries and that we could come back the next day and pay with cash (which we promptly did as soon as they opened the next morning).  We learned that even with our complete lack of French, merci, s’il vous plaît and a friendly smile go a long way.  And as time has gone on and we have adjusted and become comfortable with our lives here, we have continuously been impressed at the easy-going and courteous nature of most of the people we meet.

We’ve even made friends hiking when there was no language overlap.  One nice elderly man decided to lead us hiking on part of our Aletsch Glacier hike down and around Eggishorn.  He spoke only Swiss-German, we spoke only English/very poor French.  How we had conversations and understood each other, to this day I still cannot say.  It is one of the mysteries of this country. Kind of like how this landscape can be so incredibly gorgeous that it literally left me breathless on a number of occasions:

Tällisee

Aletsch Glacier from Eggishorn

View towards Bettmeralp

Another one of those awesome facets of living en Suisse that we have more than willingly adopted is the concept of fondue.  When I first blogged about fondue, I got a couple comments and emails about the fact that gruyère and emmenthal are a really odd fondue combo.  Given that is how I grew up with fondue in the U.S., I was really curious to see how the Swiss made it, though I didn’t have access to the beloved vacherin fribourgeois until we moved over the ocean.  Talking to my coworkers also confirmed the strangeness that Americans typically think of as a traditional Swiss recipe. “But isn’t that too mild then?” one coworker asked.  And then, you should have seen the look on my colleague’s face when I told him that in my family, because it has a mild flavor, we don’t just dip bread or potatoes, but also broccoli, carrots, all sorts of other veggies, and even apples.  His jaw dropped to the floor.  I didn’t tell him that I’ve also eaten fondue made with beer and cheddar in the U.S., I thought that might be too much.

To learn about traditional Swiss fondue, I think the best thing to do is go “right to the source” in the canton of Fribourg.  Gruyères is the home of the famous Gruyère cheese, and while it may be a bit touristy to visit the factory and the old Gruyères-Ville, the fondue can’t be beat.  Neither can the view if you choose to do a little walking in the area:

Gruyères-Ville

There are cows grazing on the hillsides, and I really can’t imagine anything more idyllic and picturesque.

Sentier des Fromageries: Gruyères-Gare to Moléson-Village PAG_0295gruyere

So what is this vacherin fribourgeois like? It is a somewhat firm cheese with a pungent nose.  It can have little itty bitty holes in it, but nothing like emmenthal or the U.S. made “Swiss-style” cheese.  And it’s quite strongly flavored too.  Now that I have had proper moitié-moitié fondue, I think the vacherin fribourgeois is really a critical ingredient if you want to create a little bit of Switzerland in your home.  Sadly, however, I have absolutely no idea where to purchase this cheese in N. America.  So if you are able to find it/order it, please share for the benefit of everyone else!

Because David Lebovitz does such a great job explaining how to make Swiss fondue in his latest post, I’ll send you over to his site rather than say essentially the same exact thing here.  Just one key note.  If you can find vacherin fribourgeois, use it!  Now that I have been “enlightened”, the gruyère/emmenthal mix is way too mild for my taste.  I need the true moitié-moitié fondue with vacherin fribourgeois.  We love to buy little bags at the store of the mélange already grated, it makes it super simple to prepare.  And now I have the perfect stylish and modern fondue pot to make it in too (Why did it take me nearly a year to purchase a fondue pot?).

Also, if you are gluten free and in Switzerland, no need to worry about having to dip glutenicious bread cubes to enjoy this dish!  It is totally cool here to order avec pommes de terre (potatoes) instead.  Just make sure that if you are dining with gutenicious folks who do want to enjoy some fabulous homemade bread, that you order en portions séparées (separate portions) so that you each get your own personal fondue pot.  This way you don’t have to worry about bread crumbs getting in the cheese, and you can enjoy your fondue to its full potential.  This is also a much more desirable solution than asking for a cuillère (spoon) for the glutenicious people to pour the cheese onto their bread (a huge faux-pas), and will also save you a lot of strange stares from the other diners and staff.

If you are at home, feel free to enjoy with boiled potatoes or your favorite (gluten free) bread :)

A proper Swiss fondue

Also submitted to – Gluten Free Wednesdays

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa November 8, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Your story is awesome and the pictures too! Believe it or not, I have never been to Aletsch…

I love Fondue and also enjoyed David’s post about it. The Fondue Fribourgeoise only consists of Vacherin Fribourgeois and is eaten with boiled potatoes and the most common fondue (originating from the Jura area) is made with Gruyère (generally not too mild nor too young) and Vacherin Fribourgeois and is eaten with bread. Different variations exist. In France they make theirs with Beaufort, Comté and Emmental cheeses. But why not make a non-traditional fondue with Cheddar? as long as the ingredients used are good I say there is no limit!

Cheers,

Rosa

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Jenn November 8, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Interesting! I didn’t know certain fondues were traditionally eaten with one or the other, bread or potatoes. And Aletsch is gorgeous – if you aren’t too keen on the hiking it’s also worth the ride up the funiculars just for the view!
And yes, beer & cheddar fondue is fantastic :)

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verO November 9, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Beau récit de ta vie et de tes expériences dans notre pays. Moi, ça m’a toujours fait sourire de voir comment les américains faisaient la fondue !

Je voudrais revenir sur le commentaire de Rosa qui semble contenir des erreurs, si j’ai bien tout compris.

La fondue fribourgeoise (au vacherin) est effectivement une fondue faite avec du vacherin fribourgeois uniquement et … de l’eau. Elle peut se manger aussi bien avec des patates que du pain. Son origine est bien sûr fribourgeoise.
http://www.terroir-fribourg.ch/modules/recettes/detail.asp?ID=35

La fondue moitié-moitié se fait avec du gruyere et du vacherin en parts égales. Son origine est fribourgeoise et sûrement pas du Jura ! (Rosa, quelle drôle d’idée) ! ;-)
http://www.terroir-fribourg.ch/modules/recettes/detail.asp?ID=26

Jenn, sache que personnellement j’aime manger la fondue avec des morceaux de pommes et beaucoup de suisses le font aussi.

Bien à toi et bonne continuation dans notre petit pays.
verO

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Jenn November 9, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Merci bien pour les infos! J’apprendais beaucoup depuis mon arrivée en Suisse….
J’adore les pommes trempées dans la fondue – mais je n’ai jamais vu les pommes servis avec de la fondue dans un restaurant suisse encore :)

(J’espère que mon français est bon!)

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Carol Jardim November 8, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Loved your post. I have lived there for a year also (although on the italian part) and felt just like you in every single way.

Cheese dishes, such as fondue are one of the best Swiss experiences ever (have you tried raclette??).

Your photos are awesome as well!!

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Jenn November 8, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Thank you! Yes I have tried raclette, it is another wonderful new favorite of mine.

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Brie November 8, 2010 at 9:21 pm

this is fantastic – i love learning about traditional foods and the original manner in which they are to be enjoyed. and those photos did take my breath away – incredible.

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Jenn November 8, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Thank you so much!

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Adina November 8, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Do you have any suggestions for any sheeps milk or goats milk cheeses that could be used to make fondue with?

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Jenn November 8, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Hmm that’s a tough question! Personally I haven’t heard of any sheep’s or goat’s milk cheeses being used in fondue… maybe you could experiment!

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Adina January 16, 2011 at 4:11 am

Hi Again! I made it a quest and succeded! Here’s a link to a cows milk free (and wine free) version! http://glutenfreetravelette.blogspot.com/2011/01/sheeps-cheese-hard-apple-cider-fondue.html

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Jenn January 16, 2011 at 4:46 pm

a lovely version, it looks wonderful! Congrats on your fondue success!

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Zita November 8, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Love your photos! Beautiful!

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Jenn November 8, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Thank you!

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Heidi @adventuresofaglutenfreemom.com November 9, 2010 at 1:44 am

You’re pictures are breathtaking Jenn, thank you so very much for sharing them.

Heidi

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Jenn November 9, 2010 at 3:00 am

Thank you Heidi!

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Maggie November 9, 2010 at 1:55 am

Fantastic post Jenn! As always. Your pics of Switzerland are stunning! We visited Gruyere when we were there visiting my husband’s sister. So quaint and beautiful. Thanks for sharing and taking me back to a fantastic vacation!

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Jenn November 9, 2010 at 3:01 am

Thanks Maggie! It’s one of my favorite places to visit so far :)

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Tiffany Bateman November 9, 2010 at 3:51 am

Amazing photographs! And what a great idea to have potatoes instead of bread in fondue :)

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Jenn November 9, 2010 at 4:02 am

Thank you! Potatoes really are quite lovely with fondue.

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Kim - Cook It Allergy Free November 9, 2010 at 5:05 am

Oh my goodness. These pictures literally have left me breathless. All of them are absolutely amazing but that first scenic one with the rocks reflecting on the water? Unbelievable. Just simply beautiful. You are so very very talented. You are in your element for sure there. Oh, and that fondue has me drooling right now. YUM!!!

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Jenn November 9, 2010 at 5:07 am

Thanks so much Kim! You’re compliments are too much :)

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Kocinera November 9, 2010 at 8:12 am

Wait a second! There’s a whole town called Gruyeres?! And that’s where they make the cheese?! Excuse me while I book my plane ticket…

hehehe Switzerland looks so incredibly beautiful and full of amazingness to explore. Looks like you’re having a wonderful time!

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Jenn November 9, 2010 at 1:43 pm

haha, yes there is a town called Gruyères :) Switzerland has been beautiful so far!

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Cherine November 9, 2010 at 8:56 am

Magical photos! Great post!

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Jenn November 9, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Thanks!

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InTolerantChef November 9, 2010 at 12:59 pm

I agree with Adina, I will have to do some trial and error testing.

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Jenn November 9, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Yeah, sorry I don’t have any experience with other cheeses – though if you get something to work well I’d love to hear about it :)

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Leo November 9, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I did not know you lived in Switzerland, I’ve been following your blog since a moment to get new recipes, which are very good by the way.
I’m Swiss, from Neuchatel to be precise, I’m glad you enjoy our fine country.

Also I love fondue and raclette I think they are among my favourite dishes.
There are also a lot of different types of fondue, like tomato fondue (which is a normal fondue with added tomatoes, it makes it a little bit lighter and delicious), also mustard fondue, Valaisanne which is gruyère and raclette cheese, champaign fondue as well etc..

I hope you’ll have the chance to try out some of these

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Jenn November 9, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Thank you! And thanks for informing me about the other fondue variations – I have never seen any of the fondue styles that you mentioned before!! I will definitely have to make it a point to try them, especially the tomato version and the Valaisanne!

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Lisa@bakedinmaine.com November 9, 2010 at 4:37 pm

WOW Jenn!!!!

These photos (above) are absolutely STUNNING!!!!

The fondue looks delicious too!

Lisa
xo

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Jenn November 9, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Thanks so much Lisa!

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Wendy @ Celiacs in the House November 10, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Traveled halfway round the world and haven’t even gotten out of bed yet. Gorgeous, gorgeous post.

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Jenn November 10, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Thanks Wendy! Glad I could bring a little of Switzerland to you.

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Linda November 10, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Fabulous photos, Jen! Oh how I miss cheese….

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Jenn November 10, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Thanks Linda!

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Heather November 10, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Wow, Jenn. Stunning photography. The fondue is oozing off my computer screen! What a great idea to use potatoes. I can’t wait to make some. :)

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Jenn November 11, 2010 at 12:01 am

Thank you! I hope you enjoy as much as we do!

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Jeanne November 15, 2010 at 1:04 am

JENN!

I have been meaning to write to you for FOREVER since arriving in Spain. I want to visit you, but it may or may not be possible. I had originally planned to do a lot more, but since breaking my ankle a month ago, I’ve been . . . a bit immobile. Anyway, I just wanted to comment again and say hello and say that . . . well, your photos are awesome and make me want to go to Switzerland to visit you!

I’ll have to see what my schedule is like… maybe I’ll still be able to make the trek over?

Hope you’re doing well!

Best,
~Jeanne

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Jenn November 15, 2010 at 8:05 am

Aww thanks Jeanne! OMG I heard about your ankle, your entire experience has been def. one I’m sure you’ll remember!

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