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article imageOp-Ed: Is your summer BBQ missing something? Try serving cheese fondue Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Jul 24, 2013 in Food
San Francisco - Summertime is a time for backyard barbecues and easy-to-make foods that please gatherings on warm evenings when being outside is best. Is your BBQ in need of a little something more than burgers and hot dogs?
Why not try some freshly made cheese fondue?
"It is really easy to make" said Julie Beck, who on a visit to a friend's house in the wine country of Sonoma this past July 21, brought a recipe for basic cheese fondue.
It is a recipe her mother got, as Beck explained, from "Horst Mager, the owner of the well-known Der Rheinlander Restaurant in Portland, he was our next door neighbor for many years when we lived in Bull Mountain." Beck's mother kept the recipe and since then, whenever Beck wants to entertain friends, she serves fondue.
The melted Swiss cheese mixed with white wine, such as a Chablis or a Sauternes, is delicious. As a CPA who has traveled the world and tasted some of the finest of culinary offerings, it was easy for this reporter to understand why Beck thought there is something wonderfully simply yet special about fondue.
 My mom got the recipe from Horst Mager  owner of the well-known Der Rheinlander Restaurant  when we...
"My mom got the recipe from Horst Mager, owner of the well-known Der Rheinlander Restaurant, when we lived in Bull Mountain, near Portland, Oregon," said DZH Phillips CPA Julie Beck.
Courtesy of Der Rheinlander Restaurant, Portland, Oregon
Everyone in the backyard that evening gathered around the fondue pot, the aroma of the wine and cheese beckoned for guests to dip a bit of bread into the soft ooze. The fact that this was a recipe from a "well-known" restaurant got me wondering. Where did this recipe come from?
The following day, I was able to contact a realtor I know who like Beck also grew up near Portland. "Yes, Der Rheinlander's is well-known to the area," said San Francisco Realtor Robin Dustan. It's a rite-of-passage-type of place, she said. "Its a fun place where everyone goes for prom night or an anniversary, that sort of thing," said Dustan.
Der Rheinlander's chef and owner Horst Mager put all his culinary talent and expertise into the restaurant. With his experience serving dinners to royalty and at the time (then president to be) Richard Nixon, at the Sheriton Hotel in Portland, Mager was one who aimed to please. His restaurant reflected that and perhaps that is why people always felt at home at Der Rheinlander. While the restaurant specializes in German and European food, Der Rheinlander also serves food from other parts of the world. Der Rheinlander was not the only culinary venture Mager had, according to 'Madison' and others at Stumptown Blogger he also had a briefly lived TV show in the 1970's on local KOIN in Portland.
Cheese fondue is still served at Der Rheinlander Restaurant in Portland  Oregon.
Cheese fondue is still served at Der Rheinlander Restaurant in Portland, Oregon.
Courtesy of Der Rheinlander Restaurant, Portland, Oregon
"We do still serve fondue," said Todd Lessner. He is the public relations manager for the restaurant. "It has been 50 years this year, since the Rheinlander opened in 1963," he said. People today still enjoy Der Reinlander's hospitality and it is well-remembered and regarded by many in the Portland area.
In the 1970's fondue was popular, as Beck and others at the little summer BBQ dinner that Saturday evening mentioned. Yet, cheese fondue as we know it today with melted cheese and wine can be traced to the 18th Century in Europe. Old recipes are noted by historians and culinary authors. The origin of fondue is mostly from Switzerland and surrounding areas like France and Italy. By the 1930s the Swiss Cheese Union pushed to make fondue the national dish of Switzerland.
A good firm bread cut into thick square-like slices is ideal for cheese fondue. And  of course a lon...
A good firm bread cut into thick square-like slices is ideal for cheese fondue. And, of course a long fork for dipping.
Regardless of origin, there is something universally comforting about melted cheese. Maybe, this is why it has remained on the Der Reinlander menu be it a trend or not. Beck said that in Oregon there are some really good cheese makers. Yet when at home, she makes fondue with any good Swiss cheese. A mixture of different types of Swiss cheese can enhance flavor. But the important thing as Beck mentioned is the right balance of wine, cheese, a bit of water and some corn starch.
The recipe Der Rheinlander has on its web site is as follows:
1 pound grated {processed} Swiss Cheese
2 cups very dry white wine, Chardonnay or Chablis
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper pinch of nutmeg
While Beck did not include the nutmeg or cayenne pepper, she noted that she likes to add just a little bit of butter to give the fondue that extra richness. And, she also said for best results use a double-boiler pan to melt cheese slowly and gently stir in the wine, garlic and other ingredients.
"I will have to try making some fondue soon," said Dustan as she and her family like to cook. A realtor's work can be very busy, so having quality family time is important, noted Dustan. "Some fondue would be a fun treat," she said.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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