On this date forty years ago, a fire broke out during a Frank Zappa concert in the Montreux Casino and inspired Deep Purple’s classic song, Smoke on the Water. The band had set up camp in Montreux, Switzerland to record an album using the Rolling Stone’s mobile studio. The night before they were to record, someone at the Zappa concert fired a flare gun into the rattan-covered ceiling and the ensuing fire destroyed the entire building. (He would be immortalized as “some stupid with a flare gun.”) The guys from Deep Purple were staying in a hotel across Lake Geneva and saw “smoke on the water” as the fire spread across the lake.
This story inspired me to spike traditional cheese fondue with smoky chipotle chiles and garlic. The gorgeous photo above is from Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes and links to her cheese fondue recipe.
Chipotle Cheese Fondue
7 oz. Gruyère, grated
7 oz. Emmental, grated
2 T. cornstarch or flour
1 c. dry white wine
2 t. finely chopped garlic
4 t. finely chopped chipotle chile
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 scallion, thinly sliced (optional)
Toss the cheese with the cornstarch or flour.
In a double boiler or a metal bowl over a sauce pan filled with 2 inches of water, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and pour the wine into the bowl. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
Add half the cheese and cook until the cheese is melted, stirring constantly. Add the remaining cheese a small amount at a time, stirring after each addition until the cheese is melted. Fold in the diced chipotle chile. Pour into a warm fondue pot and keep warm over low heat. Just before serving, sprinkle with black pepper and garnish with the scallions (if desired).
In addition to cubes of bread, serve with blanched vegetables, boiled potatoes and apple slices.
As a garlic aside, Zappa wrote a song called “Jewish Princess” in which he pines for a Jewish girl with “a garlic aroma that could flatten Tacoma.” In response to the song, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith filed a protest with the FCC to have the record banned from airplay claiming that it contained “vulgar, sexual and anti-Semitic references which leave very little to the imagination.” And while it did, as a result of the ADL’s protest, Jewish Princess received more press than any other Zappa song ever did.
In all fairness, the brilliantly satirical Zappa was an equal opportunity offender. Rykodisk put out a collection called “Have I Offended Someone?” which includes his musical take downs of feminists, gays, Jews, hippies, Christians, Catholics, new wave bands, politicians, and Valley Girls. Today is also the 18th anniversary of his death from prostate cancer. RIP. The photo below is a statute of Zappa from Vilnius, Lithuania. Zappa was never there but that wasn’t going to stop a die-hard fan from erecting a monument to him.