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Cheese please

IT'S hearty, gooey, tasty and fun. The cheese fondue is perfect for something a little different this winter, writes Tan Weiyun.

Meals requiring more effort can be a lot of fun. Such meals include Chinese hot pots, Korean barbecues or the Western-style cheese fondue.

Cheese fondue is a dinner-time treat usually shared in an earthenware pot over a small burner. It's especially good during the cold, damp winter.

Born in the Swiss region of Fribourg in the 18th century when isolated alpine villages had to find a way to reuse the remains of their bread and cheese, this dish is no stranger to Shanghai.

Sofitel Shanghai Hyland on Nanjing Road E. has its annual Cheese Fondue Season at Mosaic restaurant until February 9.

"It's quite a fun dining experience to dip the bread in the pan full of warm molten semi-liquid cheese sauce," says Lester Lu, the hotel's executive sous chef.

Mosaic has four different types of cheese fondues ?? traditional, tomato flavored, black truffle and porcini mushroom.

Like the Chinese hot pot which has a soup base available in different flavors such as spicy, sweet or plain, the cheese fondue also has its base, melted cheese plus a light alcohol.

The traditional cheese fondue uses Emmental and Gruyere cheese, white wine and kirsch as its soup base. Other ingredients are added to give a new twist on an old classic.

"Truffles are held in high esteem in France and northern Italian cooking. It has a musky, earthy, pungent smell. It's even a little sexy, especially when it is cooked and melted with cheese," Lu says.

Affordable, tasty and convenient, the cheese fondue has become a worldwide treat and its recipes have evolved over the years. The dish has been adapted to suit regional cheeses and tastes around the world.

"Just like the Chinese hot pot, you can dip anything you like including vegetables, meat or fruit into the melted cheese. It's a free-style dish, good for get-togethers with family or friends," the chef says.

Mosaic offers a variety of side dishes for the cheese fondue including mixed greens, potatoes, cherry tomatoes, pickles, cocktail onions, ham, dried beef and more.

"It's a heavy dish that provides energy and nutrition during the winter," says Lu.

Date: through February 9

Address: 505 Nanjing Rd E.

Tel: 6351-5888

Cost: Traditional cheese fondue at 218 yuan per pot; tomato cheese fondue at 218 yuan per pot; black truffle cheese fondue at 258 yuan per pot; porcini mushroom cheese fondue at 238 yuan per pot (all prices are subject to a 15-percent service charge)


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