My husband spent quite a few years living in Switzerland before we got together. I visited him there a couple of times - in the summer when we walked in the mountains and in the winter when I had a go at skiing (not my greatest triumph!). He very definitely succumbed to the Swiss love affair with cheese and I came to realise that there is a lot more to cheese than a bit of cheddar.
As part of my kitchen equipment I now own a girolle, which is a device for scraping Tete de Moine Swiss cheese into delicate little rossettes, a raclette grill used for melting slices of Raclette cheese which are then scraped over boiled potatoes, vegetables and various other accompaniments and in true 'Generation Game ' fashion - a fondu set.
Until recently, my husband has brought back ready prepared cheese fondu from his trips to Switzerland to visit his children. However, when Lidl did a special offer on Gruyere and Emmental, he made his own fondu from scratch... and it was delicious - far superior to what I was used to. The trouble was, when you can actually see how much cheese and wine goes into making this gloriously oozy treat, it is impossible to ignore its calorific content. Not by any stretch of the imagination was cheese fondu going to fit into the healthy eating diet plan we were trying to implement - but we had some Gruyere and Emmental to use up and it would have been a tragic waste not to turn them into an indulgent fondu.
My husband put up on our weekly meal plan board for Wednesday - Naughty Cheese Night.
Of course I knew that the 'Naughty' part referred to the unjustifiably high calorie and fat content and the inevitable alcohol consumption (once that bottle of wine has been opened, how can you resist) but I couldn't help letting my mind wander into the realms of the sensual pleasure of eating Tom Jones style (the classic book rather than the welsh singing superstar that provided one of my highlights of the V Festival experience last summer). Naughty Cheese Night was starting to get interesting!
On Wednesday evening, the little ones were in bed and the last of my older girls still living at home was at a panto rehearsal until 10 o'clock. The fondu was cooking and the stage was set.
Wednesday evening is also one of my running club nights. Despite bitterly cold conditions outside and the promise of my cheese night, I did not want to miss this run. There were far fewer people braving the cold than we would normally expect so we went off as one group and anybody that didn't want to do the full 6 miles or so had the option to cut off for a more manageable 3 miler. I was very definitely a 3 miler! It was hard work even getting round the 3 mile course but I was glad I did it and felt good. If I could have gone home and jumped into a hot shower I think I would have remained feeling good. Unfortunately, I had little ones to put to bed and a daughter to take to panto rehearsal before I could even consider sorting myself out.
So the fondu was cooking, the stage was set... but I just felt really cold and a bit achey. I changed into a slinky, sexy top - then promptly put a big cosy cardi over the top and just for good measure, put on my fleecy pyjama bottoms. Heels, that I know my husband would have loved to see me wearing for our special night in, were ignored in favour of slipper socks!
The fondu was warming and comforting, candelight created soft flickering shadows and a blazing fire was enough to chase all the chill from the air. Sadly, it completely failed to chase the chill from my bones. Even with my duvet wrapped round me I shivered!
It was actually a lovely evening. Apart from a slight glitch when the fondu went through a solid, rubbery stage that resisted the intrusion of our dipping bread followed by an elastic stage that produced incredibly long spaghetti like strings that refused to break and painted messy squiggles when we raised our fully loaded bread from the fondu pot, the food went down a treat. We moved the sofa to be right in front of the fire and snuggled up in the radiant heat. There may not have been any of the naughtiness of my fantasy but it did come close to a threesome of sorts - me, my very patient and understanding husband and my duvet.