Aussie Alps Cheese Fondue
Updated: Aug 8
How to reproduce a traditional Swiss Fondue dish in the Snowys of Australia.
Even though it means melted, “fondue” is more than melted cheese. It is an old mountain cheese dish that originates from the Swiss and French Alps. Fondue is mainly made with a combination of alpine eye cheese mixed with white wine. The concept of the fondue feast was popularised in North America in the 50s. I was very young when introduced to this and I probably fell into the pot because I just love cheeses. In Québec, you can find a range of fondue mixes in all supermarkets, and that's easy, you only have to add the wine. Downunder, you are less likely to find these mixes, so I had to learn to make a fondue from scratch. That involved a little bit of research that I am glad to know about now because it is easy to make and much more rewarding than any commercial mix! The tricky part is finding the right cheeses. So far, I have only made it with some of the European ones I could find nearby. Gruyère is the best essential cheese for Swiss fondue and I recently found that some are made in Tasmania. Emmental, Comté, Masdaam and Jalsberg are also fondue-suitable and available in Australia. I live in a cool climate zone rich in agriculture but sadly, it is not a dairy-producing and cheese-making region (this would be the dream, being a wine region, wouldn’t it?). Glady we have the high-altitude white wines produced locally in Tumbarumba, and that is also an important ingredient to the recipe's success! For a special alpine flavour addition, here are some suggestions: mountain pepper, roasted hazelnuts, rosemary and wild mushrooms. If you happen to get your hand on a piece of fresh truffle (also grown in our region), don't hesitate to add a bit to the fondue pot. Truffle, cheese and wine are definitely best friends!
Swiss-style cheese fondue with truffle • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2021
Cheese fondue is traditionally served as dinner feast in a fondue pot over a tea light candle but everything can be re-invented. If you don't have the fondue set, you can make an entrée version by preparing the mix in a non-stick pot and pouring half the recipe into a bowl. The mix will get hard when it cools down so it’s better to taste it as soon as it’s made. If you're keen and have the right dish for it, have your fondue on an open brazier. Stir it often to ensure the cheese does not stick and burn in the bottom. If you have any leftovers, wrap what is left and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 days. Chop and use in a cheesy casserole dish, pizza or grilled cheese sandwich (topped with extra truffle, you'll be back in heaven).
Alpine cheese fondue as entrée • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2018
• A good high-altitude dry white wine will be best to melt the cheese into a creamy texture. The varieties of Rieslings cultivated in cool climate regions, especially from New Zealand and Australia, are distinctly crisp and will make your cheese fondue a great success.
• Never use packed shredded cheese and grate your own. Pre-shredded cheese contains preservatives that keep the shreds from clumping together in the bag, meaning they won't melt together and your fondue won't be turning smooth.
• While eating cheese fondue, avoid drinking cold water. Wine or hot tea is recommended for better digestion. Not sure if that is a myth but I find it’s better not to take any chances and just enjoy the rest of that bottle of wine!
This recipe is available to purchase as a recipe greeting card (locally), or by enquiry.
Check out some related posts and recipes: