Our regularly scheduled programming is being interrupted by the holiday. It's Christmas where I am, and it might be Noël where you are when you read this. I hope you will have or are having a merry one, despite lockdowns, confinements, Brexit, pandemics, and presidential pardons. Stay well and stay safe. Maybe we'll all be vaccinated by next summer and things will get better.
Meanwhile, life goes on at the domestic and kitchen levels. Yesterday we made our Christmas Eve fondue savoyarde and a big green salad with garlicky vinaigrette. Here are the cheses that went into a pot of simmering white wine to melt into fondue. Maybe Walt will post a picture of the finished fondue. This year's was one of the best in recent memory, in part because of the cheeses we used.
Starting on the left in the picture above the cheeses were Comté, Beaufort (upper right), and Abondance (lower right). All are what we Americans call "Swiss" cheeses but these are French, and all are AOP (the European label of quality) so are guaranteed to be authentic and made according to strict, time-tested criteria and standards having to do with where the milk comes from, from what breeds of cattle, and how long the cheeses are aged.
- Comté cheese is made in the 4,600 sq. mile Franche-Comté region in eastern France, which shares a long border with Switzerland. Annual production is more than 60,000 tons, more than for any other French cheese.
- Abondance cheese is made in a 1,350 sq. mile area centered on the Haute-Savoie département in the Alps, a part of France that's east and south of the Swiss city of Geneva. Annual production of Abondance cheese is smaller, coming to about 3,000 tons.
- Beaufort cheese is made in a 1,550 sq. mile area in the Savoie département, in the Alps just south of the Haute-Savoie. Annual production is just over 5,000 tons.
The other ingredients in this kind of fondue are white wine, garlic, kirschwasser (cherry brandy), and corn or potato starch as a thickener, seasoned with black pepper and grated nutmeg. We eat it with cubed French bread and fresh apple also cut into cubes. Our version is 500 grams (just over a pound) of cheese, once cup of white wine, and small amounts of the other ingredients. We put in about 150 grams each of Abondance and Beaufort, along with 200 grams of Comté.
This morning Walt is making an applesauce cake for our Christmas and weekend dessert enjoyment. And we'll be putting this guinea-fowl capon (the chapon de pintade above) on the rotisserie in the oven around 10 a.m.for 2 to 2½ hours. We'll have it with giblet gravy, bread stuffing, cranberry sauce, steamed Brussels sprouts, and pureed pumpkin as our Christmas dinner at noontime.