12 fingerling potatoes, cut in half, 1-inch baby potatoes may be substituted
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus some for drizzling
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 jigger dry sherry
1 cup half-and-half
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 cup grated Gruyère or Swiss cheese
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups steamed broccoli florets
1 pound asparagus, trimmed of stems, tips reserved
2 tablespoons fresh chives, snipped or chopped
1/2 French baguette, cubed
12 cherry tomatoes
Cornichons or baby gherkin pickles
Cover potatoes with water and bring the water to a boil. Salt the water and simmer potatoes 10-12 minutes, until just tender. Drain potatoes and return to warm pot to dry the potatoes. Drizzle potatoes with a little EVOO to keep them from discoloring and to shine them up.
Fill a second skillet or saucepan with two inches of water. Cover and bring the water to a boil on the stovetop. Salt the water, replace the cover and reduce heat to simmer.
To a heavy saucepan over moderate heat, add one tablespoon EVOO and the chopped shallots. Sauté shallots for 2-3 minutes, then add sherry and allow it to almost evaporate, a minute or two. Add half-and-half to the pan and reduce heat to low.
Cut cream cheese into 1-inch slices and add it to the pot. Allow the cream cheese to slowly melt into the half-and-half, about five minutes. Add parmesan and shredded Gruyère or Swiss cheese to the sauce and stir until cheese is melted and fully incorporated. Stir in lemon juice. Season sauce with nutmeg and black pepper.
Place a candle underneath a wire rack or warm a fondue pot. Transfer cheese sauce to fondue pot or place saucepan over wire rack and burning candle.
To simmering, salted water, add broccoli and cook florets, covered, for three minutes. Remove broccoli with a slotted spoon to a plate and add asparagus tips. Cook asparagus tips two minutes, then remove with tongs to a plate.
Arrange the items for dipping on a large serving platter. Garnish the cooked potatoes with chives. Set the cubed baguette on the opposite end of the platter, to balance color. Between potatoes and bread, arrange cooked broccoli, asparagus and cherry tomatoes. Set out fondue forks or bamboo skewers for dipping. Place small dishes of cornichons, marinated mushrooms and pickled onions near dipping station for accompaniments.