Last weekend, EMP Winter House opened for business at Chef’s Club at the St. Regis Aspen, bringing forth much yuletide merriment.
The food at EMP Winter House, like beef stroganoff, bone-in veal schnitzel and classic beef consommé, is a reflection of Humm’s youth in Switzerland. A classic fondue feast served family-style can also be had in one of the custom-made private yurts.
Popularized in the United Sates in the ‘60s, cheese fondue was declared a national dish of Switzerland by the Swiss Cheese Union (yes, such a thing exists) in the 1930s. Often seen as a retro dish, cheese fondue is typically comprised of a blend of cheeses made in the Swiss, French or Italian Alps—aka, Alpine—that’s been flavored with white wine and heated, thickened with flour or corn starch and topped with a liqueur. The end result: a hot bowl of bubbling melted cheese delivered to your table adorned with cubes of bread and vegetables for dipping. (Or use a spoon—we don’t judge.)
Though any cheese will do, Humm likes to use a combination of Gruyère and Vacherin. And patience is a virtue when preparing fondue. “Once you start adding cheese to the wine to melt, make sure the mixture doesn’t boil,” he says. “Just keep the heat low and be patient.”
Cheese FondueCourtesy of Daniel Humm, Make It Nice
800 grams cheese (a mix of Gruyère, Emmental or other Alpine cheeses)
4 deciliters dry white wine (1/2 of the weight of the cheese)
4 tablespoons Kirsch (cherry brandy)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 squeezes lemon juice
4 to 5 garlic cloves, peeled (or more to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf of crusty white bread (such as pan au levain or baguette), cut into 1-inch cubes
A heavy-bottomed clay or ceramic Staub pot
A heater—either one specifically for fondue or one with a butane gas burner
1. Cut one or two of the garlic cloves in half and rub the entire inside of the pot you’re using with the cut sides. This will make sure the cheese does not stick to the pan and it adds flavor to the fondue.
2. Pour the kirsch in a small glass, add the cornstarch and stir until evenly mixed; set aside.
3. Put the garlic, cheese and wine into the pot over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent the mixture from splitting. A great fondue requires patience!
4. Once the cheese starts melting, reduce heat to low. When all the cheese has melted, add the Kirsch/cornstarch mixture one drop at a time. Squeeze in the lemon juice—and don’t stir constantly. Lastly, add the pepper. Transfer pot to the heater and serve immediately alongside the cubed bread.
Photos by Gary He.