Friday, December 26, 2008

Xmas Eve Tradition

For at least ten years, maybe more, Ken and I have celebrated our réveillon de noël (Christmas Eve) with a cheese fondue. I don't know why we started doing it. I remember fondues from when I was a kid, usually beef fondues that my parents did.

Sapin de noël courtesy of Charlie Brown.

The week before my first-ever trip to France in 1981, a friend and I had dinner at a fondue restaurant. We started with a cheese fondue, then had a steak fondue, and finished with a chocolate fondue for dessert. It was quite decadent, but fun.

Little anchovies rolled and stuffed with capers.

My flat-mates and I threw a party in Paris in 1982 and served a chocolate fondue -- it was actually made with Nutella -- that was really yummy accompanied with bananas and strawberries and other fruits.

Two pâtés, pork and figs on the left, and tête de porc on the right.

So I had a little experience with fondues, but it wasn't until the late 1990s that Ken and I actually did one of our own. As he mentioned in his blog post the other day, Ken had a recipe for cheese fondue, called fondue savoyarde in French, that he got from a friend many years before. He dug it up and we planned our first Christmas Eve fondue.

Fondue savoyarde, this year made with four cheeses.

Since then we've done it every Christmas Eve and look forward to it every year. We use good bread, but it needs to be a little stale to work well, so when it's not day-old we dry it out in the oven. Sometimes we include cubes of apple and/or pear for dunking.

That's me looking a bit dorky dunking my bread.
The remotes didn't get dunked.

This year we had a pre-fondue snack of anchovies stuffed with capers, pâté de tête, and pâté aux figues around noon time, followed by the main event later that evening. It was a successful melt and we enjoyed it with bread and apples.

We have yet to do a fondue bourguignonne (steak fondue), but one of these days I'd like to try it again.


  1. Oh dear, I can see that I'm going to have a difficult time with the food in France.....when I go, that is. But the tradition, the emotion, the history behind it all is just my thing. Oh, and I love dorky looks!

  2. Ooh, the fondue looks yummy. And you look cute, not dorky, in your festive red shirt!


  3. Ok, I have a small request... next time I'm in France I'd love to visit you and have a food tour of your kitchen. Yum!
    Hope you had a fantastic xmas.

  4. alewis, if you rely on restaurants, veg is not easy to do. But if you have an apartment or house rental, then you can shop and cook and eat pretty well as a vegetarian!

    bettyann, it was very good this year!

    muzbot, come on over any time!

  5. Hi there! I just found your blog and it's great! I am originally from the Albany, NY area myself so was nice to find that connection. I am also partnered to a chef so always like a blogger who knows his food. I've added ya to my blogroll too :)

  6. rugger, thanks for coming by!


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