Aged Cheddar & Guinness Fondue

Fondue…oh how I love thee. This has to be one of my favorite meals ever. Cheese is one of my favorite foods so it should come as no surprise that I have fondue every chance I can. We can’t always go to the Melting Pot so there are some nights where we have ‘Fondue Night’ at our house. I came across Steamy Kitchen’s recipe for Aged Cheddar & Guinness Fondue and figured I’d give it a try. I really love aged cheddar and I can sit and eat it on some crackers for who knows how long. I’m always up to try a new recipe and this recipe was next on my list.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb good aged cheddar, grated
  • 2 ½ tbs all-purpose flour
  • 8 oz. Guinness stout + more if needed
  • 6 tablespoons frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1 tsp powdered mustard
  • 1 tsp finely minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Instructions

Toss grated cheese with the flour. In your fondue pot over low heat, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and garlic. Fry until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn heat to medium-high. Add Guinness, apple juice concentrate, Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Bring to boil. Add cheese a little at a time, stirring constantly until fondue is smooth and melted. Thin with more Guinness, if needed throughout the meal. Season with salt and pepper.

Grated Cheese

Cheese melted and ready to eat!

Bread dippers

My thoughts…

I wanted to like this, I really did. But it was difficult. It did take some getting used to. Once I got used to the flavor it was that bad, but the Guinness is not something that I’d use again.  I would use a different kind of beer, such as Kirin or Amstel Light. But I loved the aged cheddar. I ended up using a little more than a half pound of Black Diamond 2 year Yellow Cheddar from Canada and  about a half pound of Grafton 2 year Reserve Cheddar from the USA.  I definitely didn’t skimp on the cheese. I really think a good cheese makes a huge difference.

We only use bread for the dippers. It’s our favorite. We had cubes of french bread, rosemary olive oil bread, and soft pretzel rolls. We’re from Philly so the pretzels are a must! They are so good in the cheese fondue – definitely give it a try.

I used corn starch in place of flour (as I usually do for fondue) and knowing me I used a bit more than 1 teaspoon of garlic. What can I say? I love that stuff!  But if you love Guinness beer, you will probably love this fondue. I happen to prefer other types of beer, so this recipe wasn’t very high on my list. If you aren’t a fan of Guinness I would just recommend using a different kind of beer and keeping the rest of the recipe the same.

I’m still full! Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival 2010

This past weekend was the Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival. I saw that Sunny Anderson was doing a Sunset, Sliders and Spirits Party at Caesar’s and I had to get tickets. I keep up with Sunny on her blog and via email, I watch Cooking For Real every Saturday at noon, and I’m such a fan of hers! So I was so excited at the opportunity to finally meet her! And it doesn’t hurt that she loves cats!!

Last year I went to the Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival, but we got tickets to the Melting Pot Event. Now, if you were keeping up with me last year at this time, you’ll know what a bad experience it was.  For those that are new or need a reminder, here are the blog posts:

I want my money back: Our trip to the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival
A little update
I finally spoke to the Owner of the Melting Pot in Atlantic City

So my friend Nancy and I were heading to Atlantic City for Sunny’s party, so I figured why not just make a stop at the Atlantic City Melting Pot while we’re there? So we took Charlie up on his offer and made a reservation for Saturday at lunch. We had a wonderful meal there. Everyone was so polite and it was a great experience. We had the opportunity to talk to the District Manager and that was nice. I told him I was so happy I got the chance to talk to the General Manager, Charlie, and that I felt bad for everything they went through in regards to the event. Our lunch on Saturday was out of this world and I’ll definitely go back there the next time I’m in Atlantic City! So I want to say Thank you again to Charlie and the rest of the staff at the Atlantic City Melting Pot!

After lunch, we rolled over to our hotel to check in! We only had a short time to relax before we had to get ready to head over to the Rooftop Pool at Caesar’s! Our friend Heather swung by to pick us up. We arrived at the party and it looked awesome! Everything was perfect! There was definitely plenty of food and drink for everyone!! The sliders were delicious, and I’m still thinking about the one cocktail I drank during the party!

Sunny told me that she was going to find me in the crowd – so I didn’t say a word when she walked in. She found me! It was crazy!! It was so good to finally meet her! We took pictures and then she went and mingled!

Sunny Anderson & me!

Here’s Nancy, Sunny Anderson, me and Heather

Later on, she gave us wrist bands to get into Sandra Lee’s Sweet & Stylish Party which was right after her party. I’m a dessert lover – and this was DESSERT OVERLOAD! I never thought I’d turn down a dessert, but I had to that night. And the drinks…oh the drinks. It was all so good. And don’t ask me how we ended up walking out with a dozen CUPCAKES!!!

So near the end of the party we were chatting with Sunny and she invited us to the Neely’s Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues on Sunday morning. It was so nice! There was tons of wonderful food and great company! She came and sat with us and we had a wonderful time! We’re so thankful that she made all of this possible! She’s so fun to be around! And she’s one of the nicest people I know.  I definitely look forward to hanging out with her when she’s in Philly the next time!!!

I finally spoke to the Owner of the Melting Pot in Atlantic City

Last night I received a phone call from Charlie, the Owner of the Melting Pot in Atlantic City. He apologized for taking so long to contact me. He said that he read the letter that I sent, and he told the General Manager (who received my email first) that every single thing in my email was true. I was relieved, because I didn’t want it to seem like I was over exaggerating anything. He said I was right on the money with everything.

He said that he was approached by the Food Network/Harrah’s about this prospective event, and he figured it would be a great marketing opportunity. The Melting Pot didn’t receive ANY money at all for this event, and they had no input at all in how things went. They donated ALL of the food. He said that things kept changing up until the event actually happened. The event was supposed to take place at the pool, then it was moved to another area of the pool, then it was moved to the balcony. At the last minute he was informed that he couldn’t use his servers at the event. There was a big deal about Union/Non Union, etc so it was Union workers that were serving the food, NOT Melting Pot employees. So right before the event, they had to learn the whole fondue thing and what to do. Obviously the union workers didn’t really care. Charlie said that he almost pulled out of it because he didn’t like how it was being handled.

He said that there was a very long line outside of the pool area to get in. At 4:01pm they let people in, so there were 200 people that pretty much stormed up the steps to the balcony. No wonder they were running out of food. You should never let in that many people at once and expect it to go smoothly. Plus, at first people were serving themselves, so they were taking huge portions, leaving the rest of us with two shrimp and an attitude from the servers.

Charlie was told that Ingrid and Duff would be walking around, mingling, putting together some fondue, etc. That wasn’t the case. They were pretty much roped off, and there was a line to meet them/get your picture taken with them. Here’s the kicker. I hope everyone is sitting down for this. Duff and Ingrid were only there for TWO HOURS! When I heard that I almost fell over. We only stayed there until about 5:15pm (and then left to go home and we stopped at McDonald’s on the way home since we were hungry!). But the event was supposed to run from 4pm – 8pm. But they were only there for 2 hours. Apparently someone didn’t arrive until after 6pm, and by that time Duff and Ingrid were gone.

So needless to say, this event wasn’t what Charlie expected. He thought it would be a good marketing opportunity (who wouldn’t think that?), but that’s not exactly how it turned out. There are some people that had never been to the restaurant and they were happy to be able to taste the fondue. But there were others like myself who were very disappointed. He said he didn’t know about the seat numbers on the ticket. He told me to contact Ticketmaster and see if I can get a refund. He said if he was in my shoes he would definitely be contacting them. So I am going to try that. We’ll see how it turns out. I’m not expecting much.

Charlie said he won’t do an event like this again – unless it’s in his restaurant. But he said they’d have to pay him since he’s not closing down his restaurant for something like that. I really sympathized with him because he gave so much, only to have the Melting Pot’s reputation on the line. I told him that we go to the Melting Pot often, and we’ve NEVER had a bad experience there. That’s why I was surprised about the servers there, until I found out that they weren’t Melting Pot employees — so then it all made sense.

He invited Carlos and I down to the Melting Pot in Atlantic City for the Big Night Out and a few glasses of wine on him. I really appreciate the fact that he took the time to talk to me and explain everything about the event, as well as inviting us to the restaurant.

Next up – Contact Ticketmaster!

Making a little bit of progress

I still haven’t heard from the Owner of the Atlantic City Melting Pot that wanted to speak with me. I plan on emailing the General Manager again to confirm that he received my phone number. Last night I did receive an email back from the Vice President of Analysis & Revenue Management for Harrah’s – Atlantic City. Here’s what he had to say…

I am very sorry to hear we did not meet your expectations for the Melting Pot Fondue event at Harrah’s. Our purpose with this event, as it is with all the events we put on for our guests, was to fully entertain you and give you every reason to say you want to come back and visit us, both for these type of festival events and just to get down to AC to escape. This particular event was supposed to accomplish that with a great setting in Harrah’s Pool, a nice casual atmosphere, great food & beverages, and the ability to meet Duff Goldman and Ingrid Hoffman.

Shortly after this event was over we recognized we could improve upon it, however we find your feedback invaluable for us to improve on these type of events in the future. We want to make the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival an annual can’t miss event and we feel this type of festival is vital for the long term success of the Atlantic City tourism industry. That is why we truly appreciate your feedback so when we set up our festival schedule next year we know we need to improve events like the Harrah’s Fondue Event, or because of feedback like yours we go in a completely different direction and set up some new events. Along those lines, we would very much welcome any suggestions you might have regarding events and concepts for next year’s Food and Wine Festival. With your love of fondue and our desire to improve upon this event, your thoughts and suggestions would be very welcome.

Having said all that, we would like to offer you a complementary dinner for two at one of Harrah’s or Caesars restaurants whenever you can come back in. We want to try to make up for your disappointment and thank you again for your honest feedback. First class service and a quality getaway experience is what we strive for every day for every one of our guests. We would very much like the opportunity to put our best foot forward on your next visit.

Please do not hesitate to call my number listed below or reply to my e-mail for further discussion and hopefully to set up your dinner.

I definitely plan on contacting him and taking him up on his offer for dinner at one of the restaurants there. And I do want to give him some more feedback on this if they plan to do it again next year (although I will not buy tickets for it). Changes definitely must be made.

Ultimately I didn’t get what I wanted (my $220 back!) but at least they are trying to make up for the disappointment. You better believe that we’ll have an excellent meal on the house when we go back to Atlantic City! My birthday is coming up in October, so that might be a perfect time to go!

A little update

So I wrote a little letter (okay, it wasn’t so little, lol!) about the whole Melting Pot event fiasco at the Atlantic City Food and Wine festival to a few people who put the F&W festival together, as well as to the Melting Pot restaurant in Atlantic City.

So far I’ve only heard back from the General Manager of the Melting Pot. He said he read my comments and he’s very concerned. He asked for my phone number because the Owner wants to talk to me. I haven’t received a call yet, but I’ll definitely update when I do! I’m very interested to see how this will pan out.