Specialty cheeses can make fondues a widely varying taste treat. Don't be afraid to experiment with an herb-laced Cheddar or an organic Chevre from a boutique cheese maker. Even if you're serving broth or oil fondue, you can pique palates with an interesting hors d'oeuvres tray of cheeses and crusty breads.
Cowgirl Creamery: Two former chefs from San Francisco founded this female-owned creamery in Point Reyes Station, CA. Products are available at a few California retailers, or directly from the company online. Try the triple-cream Red Hawk or the extraordinary Frommage Blanc.
Bellwether Farms: Aside from wine, Sonoma County agribusiness also yields great cheeses. Try the Carmody Reserve from Bellwether Farms, a semi-hard, rich, buttery cheese that — depending on your perspective — tastes like a mellow Cheddar or a slightly-sharp Gouda. White slabs of Crescenza will make you want to take a break from Brie.
Vella Cheese Co: This hundred-year-old artisan cheese producer turns out extraordinary Monterey Jack cheeses from its Sonoma, California creamery. If your only acquaintance with this delicious cheese is from mass-market brands, do try the Mezzo Secco (partially dry) jack or flavored jack varieties from Vella.
Grafton Village Cheese: Cheddar is the mainstay here. Try the crumbling, melt-in-your-mouth Five Star Cheddar for eating out of hand. Then experiment with the smoked, sage, or garlic-flavored Cheddars in fondue.
Old Chatham Sheepherding Co: Order the sublime Hudson Valley Camembert, made from a combination of goat's milk and cow's milk, or the Ewe's Blue, a sheep's milk Roquefort that can give a little kick to any salad or fondue.
Meister Cheese Co: This Muscoda, Wisconsin, producer makes an unusual, delicious Morel jack cheese with an earthy mushroom flavor and a tomato-basil Cheddar to spice up your favorite fondue blend.
Widmer Cheese Cellars: Cheesemaking in the Swiss tradition occurs at this Wisconsin creamery that's known for its washed-rind Brick cheeses, flavored Bricks and Colbys, and aged Cheddars. For a real treat, order a package of soft, fresh Cheddar curds.
Sugarbush Farm: Vermont cheese makers are known for fine, firm Cheddar and this Woodstock producer is one of the best. Order a five-pound wheel of extra-sharp aged Cheddar and start slicing, crumbling, and melting.
More Cheese Links
- Best Dippers to Serve with Cheese Fondue
- How to Make a Basic American Artisanal Platter
- The American Artisanal Cheese Movement