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Fondue Isn't Just a 'Chick Thing'

Forever Fondue

Forever Fondue on Friars Road.
Photo by Cynthia Robertson
Copyright©2006 sandiego.com, Inc.

When a friend said she wanted her 40th birthday to be celebrated at Forever Fondue, her husband groaned. "It’s a ‘chick’ place, isn’t it?" I assured him that it wasn’t; I’d celebrated one of my birthdays just a few years ago with two other married couples.

And so on July 28, we met Jill, the birthday girl, at the restaurant on Friars Road in Mission Valley. "There’ll be more parking than at the La Jolla restaurant," Jill had told us.

With the cloying humidity outside, all eleven of us found refuge inside at the air-conditioned restaurant. First course was the cheese fondue. We selected the European fondue, created with white wine, Swiss cheese, nutmeg and topped off with cherry brandy. We murmured in appreciation for the creamy delight of bread chunks and slices of Granny Smith apple dipped into the cheese.

Along with our fondue we enjoyed a crisp salad of blended greens, cucumbers, tomatoes and candied walnuts in a vinaigrette dressing, topped off with freshly ground black pepper.

Next came the entrée, which was a beef broth in which we cooked shrimp, chunks of salmon, chicken and filet mignon as well as vegetables. "Potatoes, carrots and chicken take four minutes of cooking and everything else only needs two minutes," our waitress explained to us.

"Fondue, in fact, is a kind of
communal cooking event
that has its beginnings
in Switzerland"

We kept her busy filling pitchers of ice water and tea, the preferred liquid refreshments of the evening. Time passed easily as we speared a couple pieces of meat or veggies and dunked them into the broth with color-coded fondue forks. When we’d lose a piece of meat or vegetable in the broth—which was often—we used a slotted spoon to fish them out. The whole ritual made us laugh.

"So we have to fish for our food, too," my husband said.

An array of sauces like teriyaki sauce, honey-mustard, horse-radish and sour cream with chives added to the fun of dipping and dunking.

"I still can’t get used to the fact that we have to cook our own food," said Brian, Jill’s husband, although he was enjoying himself.

"Well, I could eat fondue every day for the rest of my life," said Jill.

Delightful Dunking in Cheese Fondue
Photo by Cynthia Robertson
Copyright©2006 sandiego.com, Inc.

We did have one more course to go. It was dessert time. A dessert fondue isn’t a true fondue unless it’s chocolate. Our waitress lit the fondue so that it burned brighter than candles for Jill while we sang ‘happy birthday’ to her. We each received a plate of dunk-ables, such as banana and pineapple slices, strawberries, marshmallows—and a real treat—Rice Krispie bites.

A half hour later, we were all slap-happy from the intoxicating mellowness of chocolate and we finally put our fondue forks down. We were satiated, both in food and friendship. The whole affair took three hours, costing each of us about $33.00.

"This has been a fun experience," said John.

Dining at Forever Fondue is something everyone should try at least once, yet Brian did bring up a good question. Why bother with all this ‘cook-it-yourself?’

Fondue, in fact, is a kind of communal cooking event that has its beginnings in Switzerland. Deriving from the French verb fonder, meaning ‘to melt,’ fondue was originally used by peasants as a way of using up hardened cheese.

The so-called entrée fondues were started in medieval France. When wine makers sent their grape pickers out to the vineyards in Burgundy for most of the day, the grape pickers used to set up pots in different places in the vineyard and cook their meals, instead of relying on traditional meals. The Swiss developed the concept and gave credit to the grape pickers by calling it Fondue Bourguignonne.

The fondue concept reached America and swept across the nation as a party novelty in the 1960s, after being introduced in the 1950s, thanks to Chef-owner Konrad Elgi of New York’s Chalet Swiss restaurant. The fondue pot phenomena swelled for twenty years and then became dormant until recent popularity in the late 90s.

So when Jill said she could eat fondue every day for the rest of her life, she meant, too, that she loved the communal cooking experience. Perhaps friends who fondue together stay together.

Forever Fondue is open daily from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Details »
  • City: San Diego
  • Phone: 619-293-7792
  • Name: Forever Fondue
  • Address: 6110 Friars Road #101