Des Moines’s favorite cheesemonger has made fondue a must-have again. Although, was dipping bread in melted cheese ever not a good idea?
CJ Bienert grew up thinking all cheese tasted alike.
But after experiencing the sharp, tangy complexity of sheep’s milk cheese more than a decade ago, his perspective changed—a lot. Today, he offers more than 100 varieties at The Cheese Shop of Des Moines. And his restaurant, Cheese Bar, serves elaborate boards, toasts, sandwiches and baked macaroni. But the star is a luscious fondue. (If you order it, prepare for envious stares from down the communal table.)
CJ’S secret, naturally, is in the cheese. “Gruyère, Emmentaler and Appenzeller is a classic mix for Swiss-style fondue,” he says. “Each cheese brings its own personality to the pot.” Gruyère is the most familiar, with flavors of nuts and sweet cream. Emmentaler is milky and grassy. And Appenzeller is more earthy and funky. The trio of pricey cheese makes fondue a splurge in every sense. But, says CJ, it’s also “guaranteed bliss.”
psst! If you have one, by all means dust off that fondue pot. But you can also get your dip on with a slow cooker.