Jeff Lawler is America’s charming bachelor and also the perfect host for a truly unique elegant “fondue” dining experience at Geja’s Cafe, 340 W Armitage, Chicago.
Wine reception: N/V Bernard Rondeau Bugey Cerdon
It’s Geja’s Cafe 45th anniversary (complete with live flamenco and classic guitarist). There is no question that the place knows fully well about getting inexperienced (like myself and many more) and fearful first-timers to be on board with the art of “fondue” dining. I did ask Jeff a lot of questions that he must have answered more than a thousand times. Time to let the fun begin. Jeff remarked, “you’ve never experienced fun until you’ve had a fondue party” and then he winked. He showed us around to get the feel of the romantic place, lights were dimmed a little bit, and if this table wasn’t “romance perfect”, I don’t know what is….
Jeff promised to give some pointers when the foods were served on the table. He asked the CPRTV crew to follow him to the kitchen to demo the Cheese Fondue. Wow, it was a big pot, and the blend of wine and cheese already boiling was already shaping up to be one yummy treat, I couldn’t wait. Hurry Jeff!
GEJA CHEESE FONDUE (Big blocks of real Gruyere cheeses were used that really screamed gourmet”.
12 oz dry white wine
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp white pepper
12 oz shredded Swiss Gruyere cheese
4 oz shredded Emmentaler
1 tsp Kirschwasser brandy cherry liqueur
Heat wine in double boiler. Add spices to wine. When wine is near boiling add shredded cheese. Stir until creamy and smooth. Finish off with Kirsch cherry brandy.
For dipping: red and golden apple wedges, sweet grapes and chunks of zesty french bread.
Wine pairing: 2007 Quenard Chignin, Savoie
And to think that was just the starter, one down, 2 to go! It was a night of 3D (nah, not a night to put on those weird 3D dark glasses). It’s Dip, it’s Dinner, it’s Dessert. Oh what a fun it’s going to be then.
Now it was time for Fondue etiquette 101 Jeff’s style…
1) Fondue is a social “thang” and involves a lot of dipping and swirling from one fondue pot. Dip fondue fork with food in the common cooking vessel and swirl. Allow the excess sauce to drip back into the pot (allow time for food to cool down a bit). Lips or tongue never touches the dipping fork; else it is considered “rude”.
2) If food item you’re dipping comes off of your fork, it is tradition that you kiss the person to your left. And you can create your own set of rules. Consider this…if a woman drops food in the pot, she must kiss every man in the table (Now I’m beginning to like fondue).
3) No double dipping (for the germ factor). And no way that you will dip food into the pot with your fingers (pot is hot, in case you ask).
The Entree. Chunks of aged beef tenderloin and chicken breasts, Jumbo Gulf shrimps, and bite-size pieces of fresh vegetables. With eight, yes, 8 savory dipping sauces. Among them: Teriyaki, Aoili, Roasted Red Pepper, Herbed butter, Thai Chili Sauce, Barbecue.
This was really so much fun.
Wine Pairing: 2005 Chateau Haut Sarthes Montravel Rouge
And when we thought we had enough for the night, the Chocolate Fondue pot replaced the entree pots. Who could resist Geja’s famous flamin’ Chocolate dessert fondue, made with Belgian chocolates! We had room for some more, we convinced ourselves. There were strawberries, apples, melon, banana, pineapple. Also moist pound cake squares and marshmallows. Dip, dip, and dip lots more!
GEJA CHOCOLATE FONDUE
1 lb. Pound cake
1 pint Fresh Strawberries
Clean and cut fruit and pound cake to bit size pieces.
1 cup of heavy cream
1 lb. of dark Belgium Chocolate
Cut up chocolate into small pieces, making it easier for melting. Place the heavy cream in a double boiler and heat until cream is bubbling around the edges. Place the cut up chocolate pieces into the cream and continuously stir until creamy smooth. Do not let the chocolate boil. Transfer melted chocolate to a fondue pot.
Wine Pairing: N/V Jean Luc Pasquet Pineau des Charentes
Now all I can say, after the 3D experience….It’s GEJA, it’s FONDUE, it’s so much FUN. And I’ve never seen my Titah V and Tito Joe so romantic, both so lovey-dovey!
Enjoy a romantic fondue dining soon with your loved ones at Geja’s Cafe…we glad we did, thanks Geja’s Cafe, and Jeff, you’re the man!