Fondue originated in Switzerland where partakers shared a communal dish that was heated over a small burner. When eating fondue, bits of food are dipped into the fondue pot where a semi-liquid sauce is heated. The most common fondue dip is cheese, but there are other choices such as chocolate. (Chocolate is used for dessert.) You can also heat oil in a fondue pot to cook meat.
Fondue has become so popular in the United States that a chain restaurant called The Melting Pot has opened its doors nationally. However, it has not met with critical acclaim and seems to be geared toward the masses. A recent review in the Boston Phoenix gave the restaurant only one star.
Therefore, if you are looking for a new twist for your evening get-togethers and want to do fondue right, invite your friends over for a fondue party. To do this you will need to shop for fondue pot sets and accessories. (Another common way to acquire the necessary equipment is to put it on a registry; fondue pots are popular pieces to round out the newlyweds’ kitchen.)
Fondue equipment has become relatively mainstream in the United States. To wit, popular TV host Rachael Ray has even introduced her own fondue pot for the QVC channel. While fondue equipment cannot be purchased at big-box retail stores like Wal-Mart or Target, it can be found in most kitchens stores and on the Internet.
Prices for sets start at approximately $65. The Sierra fondue set made by Swissmar can be used for meat and cheese preparations, but not for dessert with chocolate. This set is made of cast iron and includes an enamel iron pot. The manufacturer advertises that the cast iron pot retains heat well, offers good heat distribution, and can be used on other heat sources. This set includes a splatter ring for cooking meat, a rechaud with a wooden base, a dual function burner, and six meat fondue forks. It is large enough to serve four.
A more expensive set such as the Lausanne Copper Fondue Set sells for $105 and can be used for cooking meat or heating semi-liquids such as cheese or chocolate. It is also manufactured by Suissmar and features a 1.9 quart stainless steel and copper pot that has a removable copper splatter guard. It comes with a 1.3 quart white ceramic bowl to hold food. In addition it includes six stainless steel fondue forks, a rechaud made of stainless steel, and a burner. The package includes instructions as well as recipe cards. Because of the combination of copper and steel this set has a striking contemporary appearance.
Note that if you want to serve more than one item at a time at a large fondue party you will need more than fondue pot and heater. For example, you will need a pot for chocolate and a pot for cheese.
However, your guests can use the same utensils from your set for each pot. Therefore, when shopping for fondue pot sets you may only want to invest in one complete package and then purchase a separate fondue pot. Other accessories you may want to purchase include fondue plates (approximately $30), fondue cookbooks (price varies depending on whether you purchase new or used), and fondue fuel (approximately $15). Bon appétit!