Bon appetit

flute

“Even though I was on a budget, I could afford to go to the fresh food market and get baguette and cheese.
That kind of food is not really accessible to you in London. I really love that in Paris,
there is no division [in food] by social class.”

– Rachael Khoo, in an interview with the Guardian

A week-ish ago three glorious days in Paris. And certainly the theme of this trip was food, food, food. From watching Thom and his Dad tackle a plateau de fruits de mer, to another trip to Le Refuges des Fondus, and market trawling – we ate well and often. Every neighbourhood has its own little market, and there’s no stigma in buying just one or two pieces of fruit, or a bouchon de sancerre to snack on (it’s a tiny cheese named for a wine cork). Makes me hungry just thinking of it.

Fondue Time

Thank you for your birthday wishes earlier. Hello 26!  I woke up last Tuesday and gasped dramatically “My youth!” and Thom filled in the obvious gap, adding “…is fleeting!” He’s clearly a keeper. I had a little celebration with my new London friends – nothing too crazy, but it did involve over a kilogram of cheese, so you could describe it as fancy.

Cheese - pre fondue

Here is a photo of the cheese before it got turned into a big bubbling pot of fondue. It was the size of a baby! I picked it up at Borough Market (yes, I have been back already) and it’s a nice local Sussex Farmhouse cheese. Inspired by Les Refuge des Fondues in Paris, here is the recipe:

Cheesy-No-Fail-Awesome-Times Fondue

Adjust quantities to suit your audience

1 clove of garlic, halved & peeled
Juice of 1 lemon
3 parts melty cheese
1 part other cheese
1 cup of white wine – I used  el cheapo Sainsbury’s Sauvignon Blanc
1 loaf of bread 

For the fondue:

Take garlic and rub it around the inside of your fondue pot. Grate or roughly chop all of your cheeses into small pieces. Add the wine and lemon juice to the pot, and bring to a gentle simmer. Bit by bit, slowly stir the cheese into the wine, stirring constantly. If your cheese is particularly runny, add a pinch of cornflour. But don’t worry too much because it will thicken with time (as the fondue cools).

It’s easier to do this bit in a saucepan on a stove if you just have a ceramic fondue pot. (I am assuming you have a fondue pot and warmer on hand.)

However, it works just as well if you have a cast iron pot (high roller!). Just make the fondue directly in the pot on the stove then eat fast.

For dippers:

Chop your bread into small cubes. Bread that is a few days old holds its shape better, but if yours is still fresh and springy to touch, put it in the oven for about 8 minutes to dry it out. Roasted vegetables also work a treat, as well as cocktail onions and pickles (how 70′s European). 101 Cookbooks has lots of other great suggestions!

Warning: excessive consumption may induce cheese dreams. Enjoy!

Fondue Finale

Le Refuge des Fondues

Le Refuge des Fondues offers little choice, but a lot of fun. I have wanted to visit this quirky Parisian fondue joint ever since I heard about its choice of wine glass; the humble baby bottle.

We walked in and asked for a table – no problem – we were shown a seat immediately. Then the fun started… I was told to clamber over the table and wedge myself in between the other patrons.  Ladies! If you’re in Paris good manners prevail, which means you’ll be seated on the banquette, so wear pants.

Post-acrobatics, the waiter asked for our order. There’s only two choices to make here – red or white wine, cheese or meat fondue? Vin blanc! Fromage! And away we went:

Le Refuge des Fondues, Paris

The other diners are merry, the graffiti is coarse, the service is efficiently French, and the food is filling. For 18 euro you’ll receive a baby’s bottle of wine, a fondue to share, a sweet apéritif, and a platter of bar snacks to nibble from.

Do go if you’re in Paris, it is a hilarious dining experience. Be warned though: it’s hotter than the sun in there. Don’t underestimate the power of 30 fondue pots filled with burbling cheese and oil – you may have to seek refuge in more than one baby bottle of wine!

Le Refuge des Fondues
A. 17 rue des Trois-Freres, 75018, Paris, France
T. 0142552265