We had a really great time. I am so glad Roche offers these programs to their new employees and their families. Not only have I learned quite a lot, I have met some really terrific people that are now going to be life long friends.
Making the Fondue was a lot of fun. We learned that Fondue started back in the 1600s when people used to sell the cheese to rich folks to make money. Fondue was only for the wealthy. They would melt the cheese they bought from the local farmers and have it with bread.
There are several cheese that the Swiss claim as their main cheeses. At the top of the list is Grueye, and Vacherin Fibourgeois. These are the two that the typical Swiss person will use when making Fondue. Another popular cheese is Emmenthaler - but I didn't like it. Typical "swiss cheese" (With the holes) doesn't do well in Fondue because it is a harder cheese and doesn't melt that great. Tends to make fondue very stringy.
Another main ingredient is a very dry white sour wine. They like to use traditional Swiss wine called Fendant. If you can't find that - you can use Sauvignon Blanc. Don't worry - the alcohol burns off, so kids can enjoy this cheese. They like to add, sometimes, Kirsch for an extra kick, but our group decided against it. It is a very strong alcohol, so we skipped it.
For the bread, you must have something with a thick and study crust. This helps the bread to hold onto the cheese when it goes in the pot. Otherwise - it just falls in the cheese, and the Swiss have a tradition, that if this happens, and you lose your bread in the pot, you have to do a silly dance, or down a whole glass of wine. A favorite, easy to find bread, is Weizenbrot.
Here in Switzerland - the land of cheese and CHOCOLATE, only cheese is considered fondue. None of the Swiss I talked to have ever melted chocolate for fondue.
The fondue was very easy to make. We shredded the cheese, added the wine and garlic, and put it over the stove. The fondue here is made in very heavy ceramic pots. They put a small metal burner plate under it on the stove (and over the fondue flame once the cheese is melted) to protect the pot. No - you CANNOT cook the fondue over the tiny little flame. You will be melting it all day. You must cook it down over the stove and then transfer it to the fondue station on the table.
The way you eat fondue is that you put the bread tightly on your stick, and plunge it into the cheese. You rake your fondue fork and bread across the bottom to help keep the cheese from sticking. (although, a lot of people like that crusty cheese that ends up at the bottom when you are done eating. They call it the "grandma")
The cheese was delicious. Hands down the best fondue I have ever eaten. America? You're doing it wrong.
Typical Swiss - you get everything you need ready before you even think about starting
The cheese cooked down really quickly on the stove
My friend, Marta, multi-tasking while she cooks
Me with my friends Heather and Marta - who I would not have met with the help of Roche.
Our finished product. I ate my weight in cheese and bread
After the program, Heather, Marta and I walked around the city to work off our lunch