2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Couple sprigs fresh thyme or marjoram, leaves picked
1 1/2 to 2 ounces/ 50 ml cider
14 ounces/ 400 g Cheddar cheese
14 ounces/ 400 g Gruyere cheese
5 1/2 ounces/ 150 g blue cheese
2 tablespoons creme fraiche
Fondue is quite a retro concept but it's easy to make and the sort of thing that you should start cooking once your guests have arrived. That way, it will be runny and gooey and perfect when everyone is ready to eat and they'll all be interested and excited by what's going on in the pan.
Heat a lug of oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Put a large saucepan with an inch or two of hot water on a low heat. Put a large heatproof bowl over the saucepan so you have a bain-marie.
Add the chopped shallots to the frying pan and cook them gently for around 5 to 10 minutes with a pinch of salt and pepper and the herbs. Once they've softened, but not coloured, add them to the bowl with the cider and all of the cheese.
Leave the cheese to slowly melt down, only stirring now and then to help it along. Once it has mostly melted, stir in the creme fraiche, then a swig or 2 of hot water to loosen the mixture a little. Have a taste to check the seasoning, and get all of your dipping ingredients and skewers at the ready.
I like homemade croutons, some bread sticks and a few leftover roasted potatoes cut in half for mine, but really anything you like to eat with cheese will be good here. When it's runny and delicious get everyone around the bowl and watch it disappear!
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