Truffled Mushroom Cheese Fondue with Barbera

Mushrooms are like Mother Teresa. By themselves, they are charming and tasteful. In a crowd, they help to improve everyone around them. Just like Mother Teresa enriched so many people’s lives, mushrooms make other foods taste better without overriding the flavor. North America currently has 10,000 different kinds of mushrooms. Out of all these species, truffles are the rarest delicacy. What makes them so rare is the difficulty in finding them. Truffles grow beneath oak and beech trees, so you need a truffle hunting dog to find them and root them out. In the wilderness, if you follow a squirrel, you may get lucky and follow it to one of these hidden treasures. If you are, however, like most of us, stuck in an urban paradise, specialty shops are your best bet for truffle hunting. You can also try a high quality truffle oil as a great alternative to flavor your favorite dishes (my personal favorite is one I created – 7th taste truffle olive oil made with Oregon black truffle.  Here is the link). Today I’m making truffled mushroom cheese fondue in my California kitchen to celebrate the earthy, woodsy and magical flavors of the mushrooms I adore so greatly.

To start, I shred 10 oz Jarlsberg cheese and 4 oz emmental cheese and coat them with 1 Tablespoon cornstarch. Separately, I preheat some truffle olive oil and sauté 1 lb of mixed portobello, cremini & shiitake mushrooms (sliced) with some freshly ground black pepper, 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme & 1 Tablespoon sea salt for 10 minutes. In a separate pot, I heat 1 cup dry Chenin Blanc and juice of a ½ lemon over medium heat. Then I add the cheese mixture to the pot and stir in to melt the cheese. Finally, I add the mushroom mixture to the pot to cook everything together for a couple of minutes and season with salt & pepper to taste. Right before serving, I drizzle some truffle olive oil and serve with steamed broccolis and slices of sourdough.

I am pairing this wonderful truffled cheese mushroom fondue with a 2009 Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Barbera, the best of class at the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Bursting with lush fruits like blackberry, raspberry and cherry with notes of sweet spices, this food-friendly wine from Mendocino County, California has a great balanced tannin, vibrant acidity and tart aftertaste. Not only does it stand up nicely to woodsy flavors of mushrooms and truffles, but the wine’s notes of sweet spices also draws out the mild sweetness and buttery nuttiness of the cheese and truffles. Also, Barbera’s great acidity and crisp aftertaste cuts through the richness of the the cheese so well that it’s effortless to wash it down with the sip of this wine. Barbera and truffles, a true match made in the heaven, will make a lot of people happy at the dining table throughout the year.

Hope you enjoy this delicious recipe and a pairing of Barbera with your family and friends. Happy cooking!

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