When I told my mom I was thinking about putting together a dinner with a Guinness theme, she immediately suggested fondue. And I'm so glad she did.
Really, the only bad thing about the fondue is this: I don't have any elegant pictures of the silky, dripping fondue slipping off the smooth skin of a small red potato, or images of the veil of caramel-colored cheese clinging to the bright green asparagus spears, or gorgeous shots of long gleaming forks plunged into the shining silver pot with a glowing blue flame beneath, or video of the guests clustered around sighing ooh and aah in delight.
Instead, all I have is this picture from the party aftermath: fondue leftovers.
But I assure you, it was great.
(two things: that multigrain Pullman loaf from Trader Joe's is the perfect fondue bread, two days stale and toasted; and the nice thing about your own personal leftover serving of fondue is the privilege of double-dipping to your heart's content)
There are a number of Guinness fondue recipes out on the interwebs here and here and here. In the end I stuck close to the familiar: good old Epicurious. What I love and hate about that site is that no one ever makes the recipe the way it's actually written. So the comments can give you lots of helpful tips. The commenters there are like a flock of less ambitious, less pretentious Chris Kimballs without the staff or the bow tie. In aggregate, they've tried everything.
So when they say the key to this recipe is to add the apple juice only at the end, and to taste, believe them. I did. And that was some supremely delicious fondue. Without vegetarian guests I might have tried the version with Worcestershire, but now having made the cheese-mustard-apple-juice version, I think it's good enough to stick with.
(and I also bought a 40-cent juice box of Trader Joe's apple juice and reduced it on the stove instead of springing for the concentrate can and only using a few spoonfuls; no sense having that kind of leftover lying around unnecessarily)
I also scaled everything up slightly, grating just under a pound and a half of cheese (a mix of Dubliner and TJ's extra sharp white cheddar) for 9 people. Leftovers: see above.