I went on Varsity this year. But not primarily for the skiing, or for the nightlife. I went for the cheese. Melted cheese to be specific. A vat of gloriously thick, voluptuously smooth, golden sludge, not boiling but bubbling dreamily, which drips gently off the morsel of crusty bread as you raise it to your mouth.
In the best fondues, a blend of cheeses comes together for a subtle, well rounded flavour: the heady richness of a strong Gruyere, the nutty aftertaste from Emmenthal or Appenzeller, and a creamy texture from Brie or Camembert. Crucially, a generous splash of Kirsch and white wine gives the concoction depth, and cuts through the cheese perfectly.
I returned from the Alps determined to make my own. How hard could it be? Melt some cheese, add some booze, and stick some bread in. Turns out, very. After my first attempt I was left with a curious, golden-brown dumpling at the bottom of the pan. When I plucked up the courage to try again, the cheese and wine separated alarmingly, and I ended up with a kind of cloudy watery stuff.
I’ve now resigned myself to sticking a Camembert (or better, a Vacherin) in the oven, wrapped in foil, studded with garlic cloves and drizzled with some white wine. After 20 minutes or so this turns into a pretty convincing makeshift fondue, which, while not perhaps reaching the dizzying culinary heights of the ambrosial fondue of the Alps, will just about keep my craving for liquid cheese at bay until Varsity 2013.