The weekend is so close, yet so far. This fondue will make you forget that. It is melted cheese after all! How its reputation became so entrenched with the tacky ’70s is another story, but don’t let its sketchy historical association sway you from enjoying this classic European dish. The kirsch is optional, but it adds authenticity. Any cooked veg will do for dipping, so try your favorites. Then again, it’s going to get cloaked in delicious warm cheese, so even your not-so-favorites will become stellar. Adjust the heat on the Sterno as you go along — a little crusty cheese on the bottom is fine, but it’s no good if it burns. Since this is so rich, make a salad of bitter greens with a bracing vinaigrette to balance out all the fat.
Cut the garlic in half and rub the inside of the fondue pot or an enamel-lined Dutch oven with the cut sides. Toss the garlic in the pan. Pour in 1 cup of wine and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn the heat to low and let the garlic infuse the wine for about 3 minutes. Turn the heat to low. Remove the garlic halves.
Toss the cornstarch with the cheeses. Add a handful to the wine and stir to melt. Stir gently in a figure-eight motion to avoid making the cheese gather into a ball. When the cheese has almost melted, add another handful, adjusting the heat when necessary so steam is coming from the pan, but the wine and cheese aren’t bubbling too much. Be patient, this is a gentle melt. Continue adding the cheese in handfuls, slowly so as to not cool down the mixture. The process of adding the cheese could take 10 minutes. Don’t rush it. It’s worth it.
Stir the kirschwasser in. If you prefer the fondue a little thinner, stir in up to 1/4 cup more of wine. Set the pot on a rack over a Sterno burner, or transfer to a fondue pot. Serve with bread, salami, broccoli, and potatoes.
The cornstarch is not traditional, but it helps to keep the cheese from separating. The acid in the wine breaks down the casein in the cheese to help it melt smoothly.