Even though we have been home for a few weeks, we are only now hosting a group of friends for a dinner party. We have missed everyone. Life in Fort McMurray allowed for very little social time. All are happy for the opportunity to get caught up, share laughter and offer support to one another.
What better way to reconnect than over an old-fashioned fondue party, with a few modern twists?
Starting with the location, we invite our guests to relax, enjoy a meal and spend the night at my in-laws’ cabin, just 40 minutes west of Calgary. It is a cozy spot with views of the Rocky Mountains and it doesn’t take much to talk this group into making the drive out. We are sure to arrive a few hours before the rest to light a fire in the hearth and warm the place up a bit.
Now as far as the fondue goes, a number of years ago, we opted for the “Rival Electric Fondue Pot” and liked it so much, we bought two. They take away the hassles of lighting a gas flame, controlling the heat and refreshing the fuel part way through the meal (which. after a few glasses of wine, can become quite dangerous). It is simple to plug it in, set the temperature and move right on to the meal. Another change we have made is to replace cooking oil for the healthier choice of chicken broth, which, I guess, technically makes our meal a “hot pot” as opposed to a fondue. Everyone misses the “sizzle” but we all enjoy the flavor and the favour we are doing for our arteries and hearts.
The meal is simple. One one side of the kitchen, my husband cuts the meat, steak, chicken, ham (a favorite), rinses the raw and peeled shrimp, and cleans the mushrooms. While on the other side, I prepare the onion sour cream dip, the hot mustard and fill sauce dishes with horseradish, barbeque sauce, seafood sauce and prepare a nice fresh salad, this time, Greek. Add a platter of veggies with ranch dip, some crusty, whole-wheat buns and we are good to go.
“Here’s to fondue,” a friend toasts with glee.
Conversations flow easily with the wine. Someone loses a mushroom in the fondue pot and someone else fishes it out, claiming it as his own. Everyone talks at once over easy listening background music and the sounds fill me up. I appreciate these well-nurtured friendships.
We graze well into the evening, and then gather round the fire until, eventually, folks trail off to bed, one by one.
It is so good to be home.