Gouda Advice

Milk the Cow's head cheesemonger, Laura Lown, explains how she became a fondue fiend, then tells us how to dip like a pro.

Laura's Foray Into the World of Fondue

"I was studying fashion photography in the U.K. when I applied to work in a cheese shop. I didn't even really like cheese at the time, but I loved playing with the displays and making the cheese look amazing. After that, I was hooked and worked at Paxton & Whitfield for a time, London's oldest cheese shop, which supplies Buckingham Palace.

I moved back to Australia in 2012 and was delighted to see Milk the Cow had posted a job opening for a head cheesemonger. I now curate all 170 cheeses across our two venues and take care of cheese education and events for our guests and staff. I particularly love artisan cheeses. It's an exciting time for the industry: century-old techniques are meeting new and innovative ideas."

For the Love of Cheese

"Cheese cooked and set with booze? What's not to love? I enjoy playing around with different fondue recipes and making the cheese flavors really sing when they're together in a dish. I also like quirky fondues—I experimented recently with a gin-set fondue, which was delicious. But the other aspect is the communal-style dining. Sitting and sharing a meal family-style with a pot of piping hot, gooey cheese and a glass of crisp white wine is a fantastic experience."

Five Tips to Conquer the Pot

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1 No Double-Dipping

"Unless you're sharing with your significant other, of course. But there are some cute traditions: if you drop your bread in, you have to do the washing up. If you eat the garlic clove, you have to kiss the person to your left."

2 The "Swirl" Technique

"The best way to eat the fondue is to swirl your bread in a figure eight, then lift it out. This helps keep the flavors mixed as you go and gives your bread a hearty coating."

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3 Crust Is a Must

"The bread should be day-old—anything too soft falls off the skewer. The cheese does a great job of tenderizing the bread, which harkens back to the origins of the dish: it was a way for mountain peasants to use the last of their hardened cheese and bread at the end of a long winter."

4 Let the Cheese Fly Solo

"The biggest misconception is that you have to serve fondue with a mix of vegetables or meats, which is more of a 1970s kitsch innovation. I believe in letting the cheese stand alone and eating it with just some delicious bread and nothing else."

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5 Any Cheese Goes

"You can put pretty much any cheese into a fondue—it doesn't have to just be Goudas. The only real rules are to steer away from Parmesans and very hard cheeses: they won't melt well. And if you are using soft cheeses, take the rind off or it won't break down properly. Aside from that, experiment away!"

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