Total meltdown

From runny cheese to chestnuts roasting on an open fire - there are plenty of seasonal foods to enliven the dark dankest days of winter. But there is only one seasonal treat to beat the big chill......
Our friends who came to lunch yesterday introduced us to Vacherin Mont d´or. When they lived in England, this seasonal cheese was always part of their christmas spread, and that is exactly what it is made for, spreading. It is impossible however to get it here in the Algarve, so I decided to improvise and give them a nostalgic surprise.After some research,I came up with two possible Portuguese candidates that could take on the ever melting role of Vacherin. Serpa  and Castelo Branco. As it happened, the monthly market was in Castro Marim on Saturday so I could perhaps look for this cheese from what was on offer at one of the two cheese stalls.My luck was in. I found what I was looking for, so.....
Batten down the hatches and turn the oven up high. Ladies and gentlemen can I have a big round of applause for the inimitable Castelo Branco
This is the new fondue- a whole melted cheese brought to the table in a dish and then everybody round the table can spoon, fork or dip crusty bread and bread sticks into this delicious runny stuff. A delicious starter or cheese course.
This is how I did it....
I made made some small slashes with a sharp knife. I then put it in an ovenproof bowl fractionally larger than the cheese and tucked in some very thinly sliced garlic (1 clove), fresh rosemary sprigs,( our consensus of opinion round the table was that Thyme would have worked better).I then drizzled some white wine over it, covered it with foil and baked it in a moderate oven,180C for 25 minutes. The melting moment had arrived  ......Ooohey gooey!!


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