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Melting Pots

Say cheese (or chocolate): With one of these cute fondue sets, you can have a festive, inexpensive feast in a flash.

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Like Twister, key parties, and other touchy-feely seventies trends, fondue pots are back. Today, you can find everything from the cast-iron Le Creuset your mom put on her bridal registry to sleek nuke-and-serve porcelain versions. The best part is, none of this stuff will set you back more than a good pair of bell-bottomed jeans.

Get your chocolate fixes this winter with small, microwavable fondue pots. We like Crate & Barrel's streamlined hourglass-shaped one ($12.95) and Trudeau's seashell-shaped version ($14.98 at Zabar's). Both are sleek enough to work with your hip contemporary furniture and are fueled by votive candles for heat. Each holds about one and a half cups of fondue -- just enough for you and a few friends.

Classicists and cheese lovers will be charmed by Le Creuset's small, versatile 3?4-quart pot ($45 at Gracious Home). The porcelain coating is ideal for making cheese fondue (it makes for a crispy layer on the bottom). And like all cast iron, it can go in the oven and on the stove (so you can heat and serve your fondue in the same dish). It comes in larger sizes, too.

For meat fondues, try Roshco's porcelain-coated steel set, which holds enough to feed six ($29.99 at Macy's). Steel conducts enough heat to poach bits of meat, fish, chicken, and seafood at the table (and to fry it for a traditional bourguignonne).

Want everything in one pot? Try the Copco set ($49.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond). It's made from heavy-duty stainless steel and uses a fuel burner, so it gets hot enough for meat, but it can also be used with votive candles, which won't scald your cheese and chocolate.

Now all you need to find is someone to kiss when you "accidentally" drop your bread in the pot.

Crate & Barrel, 650 Madison Ave., at 59th St. (212-308-0011); Zabar's, 2245 Broadway, near 80th St. (212-787-2000); Gracious Home, 1220 Third Ave., at 70th St. (212-517-6300), and 1992 Broadway, at 67th St. (212-231-7800); Macy's (212-494-4181); Bed Bath & Beyond, 410 E. 61st St. (646-215-4702), and 620 Sixth Ave., at 18th St. (212-255-3550).


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