Man Can Cook!

Last night, Herr R sequestered himself in the kitchen while I was on a work-related conference call. When I was finished, he presented the most incredible fondue I have ever eaten: flavorful, creamy and complex, with a perfect balance of sharpness and nuttiness. It was ridiculously perfect, from the size and chewiness of the bread cubes, to the sweet/sour cornichons, down to the disk of crispy cheese he pried off the bottom of the pot for the grand finale. I knew that we had a fondue pot in the house, but was still amazed that I’ve known the man for years (multiple years!) and didn’t know that he was such the fondue-maker: when I asked him where he got the excellent recipe, he said that it was in his head.
It makes me want to hold him upside down and shake him to see what other good stuff falls out.

Here are a few of his secrets*:
(*secrets no longer, these will now be called ‘tricks’)
• Add very dry, sharp even, white wine in two stages, with the second round just before the end
• Use garlic: some rubbed on the inside of the fondue pot, and some pressed and added with the cheese
• Don’t forget to add a little Kirschwasser (a.k.a. cherry water, except that by ‘water’ we mean ‘brandy’)
• Don’t dip the bread in Kirschwasser before dipping it in the finished fondue unless you are trying to get drunk, otherwise please do
• Add a few tablespoons of cornstarch (or other starch) at the very end so that everything comes together smoothly, don’t worry about the starch getting lumpy: it won’t
• Use sharp cheese, not bland cheese. He recommends not using Gruyere in favor of a more piquant version called (Schwartzgruyere or something that I didn’t quite catch. Oh, that’s a huge help, isn’t it? Sorry!)

Here’s a good basic recipe from Epicurious. In addition to hunks of good French bread and small cornichons, we ate it with plain baked butternut squash, some very good ripe pear, and apple juice to drink. I wish that I could have it again for dinner tonight! And tomorrow! And on and on until I pop!

Tonight, I am going to take a cooking class. For four hours! In German! Wish me luck. Here’s the stuff we’re going to learn how to cook. Please note that the name of the menu is “Wildküche”!
Hasenrückenfilet mit Feigen und Anis im Filoblatt
Kleines Wildschweinsugo mit Gnocchi
Kurzgebratenes vom Reh mit Rotkohl und Kartoffelknödel
Topfenmousse mit Zwetschgenröster

My translation:
Rabbit with Figs and Anise in Filo
Small Wild Boar Ragu with Gnocchi
Short-Fried Venison with Red Cabbage and Dumplings
Mousse with Roasted Black Plums

The most pressing question: How small IS that wild boar? I am imagining a bristly, tusked beast proudly standing atop a floating gnocchi. This is going to be fun.

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