Peter Morrell reports on the diversity of the cuisine in this small country.
Switzerland is a country well known for its cheese and chocolate but, like its mountains, there is a lot of its gastronomy to explore. The country sits on a culinary crossroads with influences from France, Germany and Italy as well as having its own distinct cuisine.
I used to spend a lot of time on business in Switzerland, my base was Nyon on the shore of Lake Geneva. After a hard day at the office we would wander down to a lake side restaurant for Perche du Lac, freshwater fish, with locally produced vegetables accompanied by the very drinkable regional Vaud wine.
If we wanted to spoil ourselves we would catch the narrow gauge railway from the town centre to the village of Saint Cergue in the Jura mountains. As the train made its twisting journey up the slope there were spectacular views of vineyards and across the lake to Evian, famous for its water, and the snow capped Alps.
When we arrived there was always a relaxing calm in the village that was only punctuated by the melodic sound of cow bells in the distance. My favourite restaurant was in chalet style, warm and cosy with some comforting food. Starters were mountain ham and dried sausage with pickles, bread and butter, there were hot pots, steaks, rosti, a potato cake and the regional Papet Vaudois a leek and potato dish.
We of course used to have fondue, a little twist being to soak the cube of bread in kirsch before dipping it in the cheese to create a mini taste bomb in the mouth. Desserts were deliciously decadence featuring chocolate and cream or for the more diet conscious a there was a range of apple, pear or apricot tarts.
So with those fond memories of Swiss food in mind I have put together a round-up of news and events that may tempt you and your taste buds to pay Switzerland a visit this year, there are frequent flights at reasonable prices and flying time is only about an hour.
THE dining table
Go to Zürich and experience il Tavolo food festival, Switzerland’s longest dining table, from 27 June – 1 July. Among the highlights is the Gala Night: take a seat at the country’s longest table in the inner courtyard of the Swiss National Museum and enjoy gourmet delights conjured up by top Swiss chefs. View the festival programme here…
Andreas Caminada – A Swiss Gastronomic star
Last November Schloss Schauenstein received its 3rd converted Michelin star and cemented Andreas Caminada’s status as one of the most talented young chefs in Switzerland. His latest gourmet venture is Remisa, located right next door to Schloss Schauenstein, by day a cosy coffee house, by evening a perfect setting for exclusive dinner parties at the highest gastronomic level.
Lake Geneva region – A jewel in the Switzerland’s gourmet crown
The Lake Geneva Region is home to some of Switzerland’s best restaurants, in fact the region can boast 13 Michelin starred restaurants, including one with 3 stars. The Hôtel de Ville, Crissier has for 15 years been under the patronage of Philippe Rochat, but as off the 1st of April the baton was passed to his right-hand man Benoît Violier, who will continue to uphold the legendary reputation as well as stamping his own innovative mark.
Gourmet Switzerland – Experience it first-hand
Culinary Switzerland is also about experiencing some of the many Swiss food produce first hand. One of the most famous is the Gruyère cheese. In their show diary you can witness how 29,000 tons of cheese are being produced every year. Wine is another essential Swiss produce and is celebrated throughout the year. One of the best is the Wii-Grill-Fäscht (Wine-Grill-Party) in Switzerland’s highest located vineyards in the Valais.
Swiss Food Festival
From the 10th to 12th of August the mountain village of Zermatt will be turned into food paradise when it will host the Swiss Food Festival. Don’t miss the kitchen party at the Mont Cervin and breakfast on board the Matterhorn Express.
For more information about Switzerland go to www.myswitzerland.com