While Annie and Jerry headed off for a morning’s skiing, I set off to see the weekly market in Les Diablerets. Annie had warned me it was small, especially in the winter, and as it turned out there were only four stalls. But it was still fun to go and take a look.
It tasted delicious. I sat writing postcards and ordered a second coffee. On the way back to the apartment I stopped at the local dairy/deli and bought some cheese straws for evening aperitifs and some gorgeous local goats’ cheese made with raw milk for lunch and topped with pink peppercorns and herbs. When we ate it, these flavours came through strongly and the cheese was delicious.
We parked and wandered down through the town to find somewhere for tea. Leysin is much more of a town than Les Diablerets. More shops, more hotels and more people. Interesting to see but lacking the charm and peace of the Les Diablerets village.
There are lots of wonderful things to do in Leysin though and we found a very helpful woman in the Tourist Information office and came back with lots of maps and leaflets and intentions of returning. As we made our way back to the car, the sun was going down.
Annie offered to make raclette or fondue for supper. As my family used to eat raclette a lot at one time, I said a fondue would be great. Especially as I’m not a practised fondue maker. I offered to help. Annie said some help with the stirring would be great. She got it started. She’d bought a mix of grated cheese for fondue.
This was a classic mix half and half – moitie-moitie – of Gruyere and Vacherin. This is mixed with some white wine and cornflour, then slowly, gently heated. She warned me it took a long time. It turned out to be well over an hour. She left me in charge while she went off to do other things – like make a big bowl of salad – at about the time it looked like a cross between porridge and rice pudding.
I’m glad she told me. At this point as I conscientiously stirred and tried not to worry, I remembered I did once try to make cheese fondue but at this point had thought it had all gone wrong and thrown it away. Eventually, still stirring, it all came together into a smooth mix.
But it was still not ready. It wasn’t yet hot enough. I kept stirring, watching anxiously and with growing impatience … There must be a bubble soon, I thought! Annie took over and once it was hot enough, added lemon juice to cut through the richness, some seasoning and kirsch. Meanwhile, Romilly cut the bread into cubes. Eli laid the table. Jerry opened the wine and lit the special heater to keep the fondue hot at the table. Suddenly it seemed, we were ready to go.
Jerry warned that the family rules were that if you dropped your piece of bread in the fondue, there was a forfeit. So guess who was the only person who did! Yes, me. But as I managed to scoop my bread back out quickly, I was let off the forfeit. Which, given the threatened forfeit, was probably as well!! The fondue was delicious. It was wonderful. The individual tastes of the two cheeses were distinct, the texture was thick and smooth and I loved it. I’d thought it might be too rich to eat much, but I had to force myself to stop when well past ‘enough’. It’s such a fun thing too, this communal eating: chatting, laughing and sharing the experience. I’m really pleased to have had a good fondue while here in Switzerland. Thank you, Annie!