About this time of year, I start to think of one thing.
Food. Lots and lots of food. Oh sure, there are the special cookies. The party snacks. Maybe even Grandma's broccoli casserole. But I look forward to Christmas Eve Fondue at my in-law's house. This is one tradition from my husband's childhood that I have LOVED integrating into my married life.
Every year on (or very close to) Christmas Eve, my mother-in-law, Diana, makes an absolutely perfect Christmas fondue. It is a 3-course masterpiece.
Diana has the house all beautifully decorated for Christmas. The table is laid out with the fancy dishes, cloth napkins, and crystal glasses. Antique lanterns decorate the windows and candles light the tables.
She serves Vernors Ginger-ale (one of my all-time favorite drinks). It is a really fizzy ginger-ale with a vanilla essence. Be careful, if you do not let it settle for a moment or two after it is poured. The effervescent will quickly go up your nose and you will sneeze (it may or may not happen to me once or twice every year...but I digress)
This is her special recipe that she has served for a very long time. Its an Italian-flavored meaty cheese sauce served with chunks of thick bread. At first glance, it looks like a simple sauce. But after that first luscious bite, I swear you'll hear angels singing. The spice of Oregano, the tang of the tomatoes, the smooth sharpness of the cheese all covered by the perfect morsel of crusty bread (get the idea? It's incredible!!!)
My father-in-law's contribution is the meat. Each year he searches diligently for the perfect marinade for the steak. He then cuts the meat into small bite-sized pieces for us to skewer onto the fondue stick, and has a pot of hot oil for us to fry at the table the meat. This may sound odd. But yes, it is simply a fried meat. No battering of the meat, just stick it in and let it bubble away as it cooks. But with this marinade, the meat comes out perfectly cooked and tender and *oh* so delicious.
Once the 2 main courses are over. Everyone starts talking again and relaxing. All of that eating is serious business! In a little bit, Diana will get the pièce de ré·sis·tance!
The Chocolate Fondue.
About this time, I start questioning my life choices and why I bothered to eat the last few days. Because this is always beyond amazing.
Lush, rich, dreamy, heavenly, and exquisitely melted chocolate is in that bowl. There are fresh strawberries, cookies, marshmallows, pretzels, and pieces of Angel Food cake...all waiting to be dipped in that chocolate sea of perfection.
Yes. It is truly that good.
Time stops for a moment while as I savor each taste.
Bite after glorious bite.
My Christmas Eve is now complete.