The history of fondue isn’t really clear. The oldest recipe for cheese fondue dates back to 1699. In 1735 a French chef named la Chapelle published a recipe for fondue and hence the reason some believe the dish is actually of French beginnings. By the time the first recipe for modern cheese fondue was published 1875, it was already a Swiss national dish. This is probably due to the fact that true cheese fondue use Gruyere cheese which means it must be Swiss!
Traditional lore says fondue started out of necessity as a way to use scraps of old cheese and stale bread during the winter when food was scarcer and villages were more isolated by the weather and snow.
No matter where it really got started, today fondue is a traditional Swiss dish and one that I love!
It is probably not surprising that each of Switzerland’s 26 cantons claim to have the best Fondue! However, in its simplest form fondue is all about local cheese and wine.
“Traditional” Swiss Fondue is made using Gruyere and Emmenthaler cheeses which are melted with white wine and a splash of Kirsch. Other local cheeses like Walliser Bergkase, Appenzeller or Vacherin may be used along with mushrooms, garlic, peppers or other herbs.
In Fribourg, the fondue is made using Gruyere and Vacherin cheeses. The wine and Kirsch are not added but you will be dipping your bread in plum schnapps before diving into all that hot melty goodness!
While in Zurich, I enjoyed a wonderful pot of traditional fondue with green peppercorns and mustard at Restaurant Swiss Chuchi in the Hotel Adler. During the warmer months, there is outside seating which, IMO, only adds to the enjoyment of your meal.
If you’re in Montreux I can recommend Le Museum Restaurant. The restaurant is located in the wine cellar of a 13th century convent and has quit a history. This cozy place has a great atmosphere and is known for its fondue!
In the village famous for its cheese, Gruyeres, make sure to visit Le Chalet. This traditional Swiss restaurant is dressed up as a chalet complete with open beams. In a village that is equally charming, Le Chalet serves wonderful fondue! I also enjoyed a green salad that was served in a cute little wooden bowl that really looked more like a very small wood bucket!
I know Fondue is a simple meal of bread and cheese but I find it to be a great way to slow down, enjoy a meal and the company of those that are with you. It really doesn’t get much better than this!