Fondue Parties at Absinthe Café – a sneak peek!

Retro is all the rage these days, it seems. From clothing to decor to jewellery, vintage is in. Absinthe Café is bringing a nostalgic touch to its fall and winter menu, offering fondue nights that celebrate this classic dining style in a most delicious fashion. At a preview event last night, dozens of happy diners enjoyed family-style fondue service, delivered with the usual polish and flair for which Absinthe has become famous.

Absinthe's fun new Monday night fondue fests are sure to be crowd pleasers. Lively, interactive and delicious, they are a celebration of Pat's culinary roots.

Absinthe’s fun new Monday night fondue fests are sure to be crowd pleasers. Lively, interactive and delicious, they are a celebration of chef/owner Pat Garland’s culinary roots.

The three-part offering we enjoyed included a cheese fondue course, a classic fondue Bourguignonne and a fantastic chocolate fondue finisher. Well-briefed staff provided information, tips and humour at every turn, making sure we got the most out of this fun dining experience.

A printed menu which included fun Fondue Facts and etiquette tips was a great conversation starter at our table.

A printed menu which included fun Fondue Facts and etiquette tips was a conversation starter at our table.

The night began with a festive cocktail – a Kir Breton, combining cider and cassis in a bright, welcoming glass. As we sipped our drinks, we perused the menu/instructions for the evening, which included the following warning – in true Pat Garland language: “Don’t knock over the fondue. That s*** is f***ing hot and will burn you like a mofo. Just don’t do it. Drink Right, Eat Left.”

Absinthe gets their fondue parties started in style with a great cocktail; this one's a Kir Breton featuring cider and cassis.

Absinthe gets their fondue parties started in style with a cocktail; here’s a Kir Breton of cider and cassis.

The cheese fondue was a great opener – a classic Moitié-Moitié combination of Gruyère and Vacherin Fribourgeois AOC, a which is a slightly acidic Swiss semi-soft cheese made with raw cow’s milk. Each diner received a plate with a pieces of baguette, apple, pear and broccoli to dip in the communal fondue pot. The recommended wine pairing of Niagara’s Tawse Riesling was an excellent match for the rich, buttery saltiness of the cheese.

The only disappointment about the cheese course was not having a wooden scraper to extract the tasty "grandmother" or "La Religieuse", which is the crust of burnt cheese left at the bottom of the pot.

The only disappointment about the cheese course was not having a wooden scraper to extract the tasty “grandmother” or “La Religieuse”, which is the crust of burnt cheese left at the bottom of the caquelon – the enamelled cast iron fondue pot.

Having a pot of boiling oil delivered to the table felt both exciting and dangerous as we eagerly dove into the next course.  Fondue Bourguignonne consists of morsels of good quality meat – usually beef – along with various dipping sauces. Absinthe provided four delicious options, ranging from a spicy Buffalo sauce to garlic and anchovy, blue cheese and Ranch; we were also given a lovely selection of crudités and an astonishingly tasty Green Goddess dip. The Chateau Saint Dominique Saint-Émilion Bordeaux was a nicely balanced pairing that worked well with the medley of flavours in this course.

The gleaming copper fondue pot is as beautiful as it is functional and the hanger steak morsels were tender and very flavourful after their quick stint in the scalding oil.

The gleaming copper fondue pot is as beautiful as it is functional and the hanger steak morsels were tender and very flavourful after their quick stint in the scalding oil.

The sweet finish of melted Valrhona Caraque chocolate flavoured with a touch of raspberry was irresistable. The ganache-like flourless brownie squares, figs, clementine segments and strawberries were perfect vehicles for the silky-smooth chocolate and the course was enhanced by the accompanying Graham’s 10 year old Tawny Port.

Chocolate, fruit, brownies and port provided the perfect sweet finish to our fondue feast.

Chocolate, fruit, brownies and port provided the perfect sweet finish to our fondue feast.

Two and a half hours later, our fondue adventure drew to a close. I can’t wait to go back for more. Check Absinthe Café’s website at http://www.absinthecafe.ca for dates and details.

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About Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I play with words and with food. I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. I'm also an enthusiastic explorer of faraway lands and cuisines.
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