Early ’90s Atlanta was a place I thought I’d like to live. So when my boss asked if I’d accompany her there to pitch a prospective client, I leapt.

I don’t remember much about the pitch.

What I remember is the fondue.

We parked ourselves one evening at Dante’s Down The Hatch in the Underground Atlanta retail complex. A few of my boss’s acquaintances joined us, along with several bottles of wine. Well into the third or fourth bottle, someone decided it was time to eat.

Dante’s served a variety of fondue and cover bands. A Janice Joplin sound-alike rasped “Me & Bobby McGee” as numerous pots of cheese fondue (and wine) arrived at the table. We spent hours dipping into the melty cheese, calling for more Joplin songs (and bottles).

I don’t remember a lot about that night, but I do know it sparked my affinity for cheese fondue. I love to melt a block of Gruyere or Irish cheddar with copious amounts of white wine (of course) and Dijon. I serve it as a heavy hors d’oeuvre at cocktail parties; as a starter for winter dinner parties; or as an accompaniment to summer salads. Paired with apples, pears, sausages and bread, it becomes a meal in itself.

I never did move to Atlanta. But thanks to my evening in the Underground, I’m a lifelong fan of cheese … and Bobby McGee.

Cheese & Wine Fondue (“The Bon Appetit Cookbook”)

fondue spread

If you don’t have a fondue pot, make this easy recipe on the stove, then transfer it to a crock pot to keep warm. Serve it with cubed apples and pears, tiny steamed potatoes, bread cubes and a variety of grilled sausages. The recipe doubles and even triples beautifully.

  • 5 cups lightly packed grated Gruyere or Irish cheddar cheese
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups dry white wine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Combine the cheese and flour in a large bowl.

Simmer the wine and garlic in a fondue pot or heavy saucepan for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the cheese/flour mixture a handful at a time, whisking after each addition until the cheese melts.

After all the cheese is added and melted, whisk in the mustard. Boil until the mixture is thick and smooth, stirring constantly. Keep warm and serve with the accompaniments of your choice. (Janice Joplin optional.)