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No fret fondue.

Byline: Christine Sherk The Register-Guard

Bonnie and Van Glass, owners of Euphoria Chocolate Company in Eugene, have an ongoing debate in their household: whether or not to dip cheese in dark chocolate fondue.

Sure, you can dunk fresh fruits, such as apples, pears and strawberries; or pound cake, whether plain or lemon-flavored; or even brownies for that double dose of chocolate flavor and decadence. "If you really need that chocolate rush," Bonnie Glass adds. She's even ventured out to pick up some Off the Waffle waffles for dipping and found them to be "delicious."

But cheese?

The kind of cheese would make a difference, no doubt. Rogue Creamery's Oregon Blue might work for those of us who really love blue cheese.

"I like blue cheese with chocolate," Glass admits.

Cheeses mixed with fruits and other chocolate-friendly ingredients also are intriguing, such as cranberry chipotle cheddar, or a white Stilton with mango and ginger - locally available at the Market of Choice on Willakenzie Road.

Still, Glass leans toward the old favorites - dried fruits, apricots, bananas - which for a chocolate lover really draws a line on the fondue tray.

Hubby, however, is definitely game for dunking cheese. And why not? If you dip and don't like it, then no need to dip the cheese again.

"I guess we're going to have to experiment and see what happens," says Bonnie Glass, who owns a 50-year-old vintage Swiss-made fondue pot and isn't afraid to use it.

Sounds like a fun date-night activity for upcoming Valentine's Day, next Saturday, Feb. 14.

In fact, if you and someone special haven't wielded a fondue fork or dipped bite-sized pieces with your fingers any time recently, consider the following fondue serving and pairing tips from locals in-the-know. Then get ready to melt each other's heart.

Making it to order

Longtime friends and business partners Shannon Ford and Megan Floretta, owners of The Vintage restaurant in Eugene, have served chocolate fondue on their menu from the start.

Opening as a dessert house nine years ago, the homey restaurant on Lincoln Street has since evolved into a full restaurant, with cocktails, soups and salads, sandwiches and pub grub among its fare. Cheese fondue is available, too, because not everyone hankers for sweets. But the chocolate fondue - available in milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate - remains a steady order, especially on Dip and Sip Wednesdays, where you can enjoy a carafe of wine and a small fondue for $20. Orders are steady on Valentine's Day, too, one of the restaurant's busiest holidays.

"The thing that appealed to us so much about fondue is that it's a communal food," Floretta says. "It encourages conversation and sharing."

"And it's great for dates," Ford adds knowingly.

Through trial and error, Ford and Floretta have honed in on how best to serve their fondues, using small, medium and large ceramic bowls as fondue pots and keeping the dips warm with tea lights placed beneath the pots set on a ceramic stand.

"We originally used Sternos," Floretta explains, speaking of the popular fuel canisters restaurants use to keep things like buffet chafing dishes warm, "but the flame was too intense. So we just use these little holders with tea lights. It's very minimal heat."

"But it comes hot to the table," Ford adds.

As for melting the chocolate?

"It's really not that complicated," Ford says with a smile. "It's just cream and chocolate heated nicely, and then maintaining the temperature. Once you've made it, it's really easy."

(Editor's note: A basic chocolate fondue recipe uses 16 ounces of chocolate - either milk, semi-sweet or dark - and a 1/2 pint of whipping cream to make four to six servings.)

Bite-sized pieces

Ford and Floretta's favorite things to serve with chocolate fondue are Rice Krispies treats, sliced bananas, strawberries, pretzel sticks with sea salt - they get those from Trader Joe's - and marshmallows, of course.

"Sometimes we incorporate kiwis. We have some that grow on our back patio, so we'll add those," Floretta says. "We'll do different things as we're inspired."

Frozen cheesecake, either regular or a seasonal take such as pumpkin cheesecake in the fall, is another great dipping choice. "It's easier to dip when it's frozen," Ford says.

No mention of dipping cheese in chocolate, though, in case you're wondering. At The Vintage, cheese is a fondue all its own.

On the savory side

The pair admits that the cheese fondue is a bit more temperamental to make than the chocolate varieties. They serve Swiss, beer cheddar, pepperjack or creamy jack, with fresh bread, veggies and apple slices for dipping.

"We start with a roux, which has butter, white wine, flour, white pepper and garlic. Then we add the cheese to order. With different cheeses you'll have different results depending on how much you use or what happens to the consistency when the cheese is heated. Doing the roux, we found, helps to minimize the problems," Floretta explains.

The beer cheese fondue is the trickiest, Ford adds. "We use a lot less roux because of the beer." They use local Claim 52's Kolsch because it's a nice even beer, not too sharp or too hoppy, for their best result.

Special cheese fondues are served for special days like Valentine's Day at The Vintage. For example, Ford and Floretta will do a blue cheese fondue, not usually on the menu, for Feb. 14.

"We'll serve it with steak for dipping," Floretta says.

After which it's time for dessert - chocolate fondue, perhaps?

Ford laughs. "We do have people come in who order the cheese fondue first and then finish with a chocolate fondue for dessert."

Special moments

As for Bonnie and Van Glass, even a super quick and easy chocolate fondue is cause for celebration. In a pinch, Bonnie heats up Euphoria Chocolate's Ultra Sauce in the microwave, then adds a splash of Grand Marnier or brandy. "Whatever we're in the mood for. Then we slice some apples and pears. It's delicious to share."

And what of the cheese and chocolate? Could be a match made in heaven best left for the chocolate experts. Fondues, after all, can be a romantic experience.

"It's a primal thing," Ford says. "Just watching each person feed each other or look into each other's eyes, talk about eating and being able to taste the same thing with every bite."

"And you're always facing each other, leaning in," Floretta says. "Everything about the physical body language in the act of eating fondue is intimate."

You can follow Christine on Twitter @CSherkRG. Send emails to

Melting point

Fulfill your fondue needs at these local sites:

Cook's Pots and Tabletops: 2807 Oak St. Stocks four brands of fondue pots - Emile Henry, Swissmar, Le Creuset and Chantal. Also has Chantal's heart-shaped fondue pot for two. Stocks fondue bowls, forks and fuel, such as Sterno gel fuel or liquid fuel. Chocolate also available;

Euphoria Chocolate Company: 21 Oakway Center; 4090 Stewart Road; 6 W. 17th Ave. Sells milk chocolate, dark chocolate and dark, dark chocolate buttons in 3-ounce, 8-ounce, 16-ounce and larger bags. Also milk chocolate and dark chocolate fondue chips in 2-pound and 10-pound bags;

Pepperberries: 2538 Willakenzie Road. Stocks Swissmar and Le Creuset brand fondue pots. Also, fondue forks in cast iron;

The Vintage: 837 Lincoln St. Valentine's Day specials include Blue Cheese Fondue, served with New York steak, roasted button mushrooms, broccoli and crusty bread; White Chocolate Framboise Fondue, served with strawberries, bananas, cheesecake, pretzels, Rice Krispies treats and marshmallows. Add liqueurs for an extra cost. Regular cheese and chocolate fondues also available. On Sip and Dip Wednesdays, order a carafe of wine and a fondue for two, for $20;
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Title Annotation:Entertaining
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Feb 7, 2015
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