GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The Vieux Bois restaurant, which provides the practicum experience for students at the Ecole Hôtelière de Genève (EHG) has just been awarded the prize for best company for training by the Association de la Cité des Métiers et de la Formation in Geneva. Jury members came from the association as well as Geneva’s sports and education departments and two of the largest unions.
The prize is awarded for excellence in training, respect for trade and social obligtions and for providing equal opportunities.
The EHG in 2011 became, for the first time, one of the world’s top 10 hotel schools in the key rankings from Taylor Nelson Sofres, bringing to five the number of Swiss hospitality schools in the top 10.
The Vieux Bois restaurant is owned by Gastronomia, a Swiss hotel-restaurant industry association.
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Yesterday a friend and I recalled frog’s legs and snails. She has become a vegetarian but says she’s always loved meat and stopped because she was eating too much of it. She waxed poetic over the remembered delicacy of frog’s legs. I recalled that my father, a true blue American, was horrified when he visited me in Paris, where I was living several years ago. They really do eat snails and frog’s legs, he said with a shudder as we read the menu.
And then I remembered serving buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup for Sunday brunch to some Chinese journalists who had just arrived in Geneva in 1988. They were polite about the meal but must have suffered.
Now a friend, a Canadian of Chinese extraction who has struggled with but enjoyed multicultural eating for all her life, sends me this from Fuchsia Dunlop, one of my favourite food writers because she turns Chinese cuisine into something both extraordinary and understandable: “Culture Shock” from the 2005 archives of Gourmet magazine. Dunlop takes some of her Chinese chef pals out for a top of the top French dining experience in California.
Here’s a sample, and there is plenty more food for thought and vice versa in this delightful, long article:
“There are strong taboos I haven’t anticipated. The most striking is the visceral dislike of rawness. In China, the consumption of raw foods was historically viewed as a barbarian habit, and most everything is still eaten cooked. The chefs are horrified by the rare, bloody meat they are offered in America. And after two days of buffet lunches at the school, they are even tiring of salads…”
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – “Floris” in Anières, canton Geneva, and “Mesa” in Zurich, are the newcomers to Michelin’s list of Swiss two-star restaurants. Floria is headed by Claude Legras and Mesa by Marcus Lindner. They bring the number of eateries with two stars to 18.
Switzerland now has a total of 96 restaurants with stars from the famed French guide, more than any other per person among European countries. The new edition, 520 pages, is on sale in Switzerland, Germany and Austria 17 November, for CHF33. It includes hotels as well as restaurants.
Just two restaurants have three stars: Philippe Rochat and Benoît Violier’s “Hôtel de Ville” in Crissier, canton Vaud, and Andreas Caminada’s “Schauenstein” in Fuerstenau, Graubuenden.
Seventy-six one-star restaurants make up the bulk of the list. Eight restaurants lost their stars for the 2012 Guide which is available Thursday 17 November. Eleven new retaurants joined, with one star.
The other two-star restaurants the Lake Geneva area are:
- “Le Domaine de Châteauvieux“, Philippe Chevrier, Satigny, Geneva
- “Georges Wenger“, Georges Wenger, Noirmont, Jura
- “Le Cerf“, Carlo Crisci, Cossonay, Vaud
- Beau-Rivage Palace, Anne-Sophie Pic, Lausanne, Vaud
- “Le Pont de Brent“, Stéphane Décotterd, Brent/Montreux, Vaud
- “Denis Martin“, Denis Martin, Vevey, Vaud
- “Hotel Terminus“, Didier de Courten, Sierre, Valais.
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Here are some of the items on three special Geneva restaurant menus the third week of August, to tempt your palate: courgette/zucchini flowers stuffed with Provencal vegetables, tandoori roast crab gratin, honey and ginger carmelized Dombes duckling. Special wines by the glass are available, as well.
Three of Geneva’s best restaurants are joining together to promote what they hope will become an annual event that could catch on in the area: Restaurant Week, 15-20 August, where you can pay CHF50 or 65 for a two- or three-course meal, at lunchtime or in the evening, and discover the city’s haute gastronomie. The week is designed to offer those who usually dine in lesser establishments a chance to discover, at an affordable price, three very different restaurants with excellent reputations.
The idea originated in New York in the 1990s, the brainchild of Tim Zagat of restaurant review fame and restaurant owner Joseph Baum. The basic idea is simple: introduce people who are new to contemporary fine dining gastronomic menus for relatively affordable prices, for a week.
Le Chat Botté at Hôtel Beau-Rivage hosted a first Restaurant Week in February and it was a clear success. This time it is joined by Rasoi and Windows.
Windows restaurant, Hôtel d’Angleterre
Panoramic views of Geneva’s boardwalk and the Jet d’eau with the Mont-Blanc in the background, dishes prepared by chef Philippe Audonnet, with the accent on Mediterranean cuisine, where the accent is on fresh produce and flavours. Superb wine list. Details, reservations and telephone: +41 22 906 5514
Rasoi by Vineet, Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Indian restaurant Rasoi is one of the best-known in the Geneva area. The “evolved” Indian cuisine created by chef Sandeep Bhagwat is accompanied by a spectacular presentation, says the restaurant, a treat for the eyes as well as the palate. Details, reservations and telephone: +41 22 909 0006
Le Chat Botté, Hôtel Beau-Rivage
Le Chat Botté boasts the creative, contemporary French cuisine of its notable chef Dominique Gauthier. The restaurant has a wonderful terrace with good views of Geneva’s lakefront area, the jet d’eau and the mountains. The restaurant assures us that diners during the Restaurant Week will be offered a number of hard-to-find wines from its famed cellar, one of the finest in Switzerland. Details, reservations and telephone: +41 22 716 69 21
NYON, SWITZERLAND – Nyon has just become endowed with a three-in-one lakeside food spot that promises to be an excellent addition to the growing town’s quality food options. One of my favourite restaurants from the outside (I never ate there, oddly enough) has long been the bright orange and blue Cafe Latino at the east end of the city centre, near the dock.
Owners Santiago Wegmann and Benoit Rol have renovated the building, and it’s now home to three eateries run by the company O’Les Terrasses du Lac.
The pair two years ago renovated and recaptured Lausanne’s love affair with the old Pizza Mario on the rue du Bourg in Lausanne.
The top floor is now Le Deck, a 90m2 lounge bar with a wonderful view of the lake, available for private and corporate parties but otherwise open to the public.
The ground floor houses begood, the third restaurant in a chain whose first one opened near Paris. Its second restaurant is the Outlet in Aubonne, in canton Vaud. Begood, with 70 seats, has four families of menus that are centred around affordable, tasty and healthy eating: befit, for longterm weight loss, becoeurful for low-cholesterol eating, bezen for easy digestion, and betonic for a vitamin boost.
The main restaurant, on the first floor, just above the lake, is O’Restaurant, which specializes in fish, especially freshly caught Lake Geneva fish, although meat-lovers will find they can also order lamb fillet, grilled steak or a tartare de bœuf.
The restaurant complex gives back to Nyon one of its historic treasures. The building dates back to 1820. It was home to the Hotel Odelet in the 19th century, famous for its “feet in the water” terrace directly on the waterfront and shaded by two giant chestnut trees. The idyllic situation changed in 1904 when a second phase in the construction of the city’s quais cut the hotel off from its waterfront.
New owner Santiago Wegmann has recreated the building’s old love affair with the water by making a terrace on each level the focal point. Thirty-two of the 80 seats in the main restaurant are on the terrace, for example.
Open daily from 08:00-01:00, 7/7. Reservations: +41 22 994 4000.
I just wandered through a list of how to tip, how much, where in the world, on the blog Political Calculations, which borrows from some previously published travel and food gurus to create a chart. It seems pretty accurate to me, based on my own travels. One thing is often overlooked in discussions about tipping, though, and it confuses visitors to a country. It’s the business of small change.
I wrote an article on tipping in France several years ago, when I lived in Paris, for an American Express magazine. Officially, no one tipped there, because under French law the service is included in the price of the meal. That hasn’t changed. Nevertheless, I invited a group of French people to meet in a cafe at the time and discuss tipping, since every visiting American asked why French people always seemed to leave something. Did they or did they not tip?
The cafe group was happy to discuss it generally, but none of them wanted to openly discuss their own practices. A woman from a well-respected old family took me aside and explained that while tipping was included in the price, and therefore no one tipped, most people would leave some small change, but getting that right was a delicate question. Was the party large? One person treating? Did they stay a long time? Was it a quick cuppa by yourself? Did you need to impress someone at the table, in which case you had to work out an amount that was not too small, not too big.
Switzerland is simpler. If your bill says CHF50, you can pay exactly that and no one will expect more. If, as I did yesterday, you invite someone to lunch and linger because you’re having a business meeting, leaving some small change is considered polite, but not necessary. To be precise: our lunch in a small cafe was CHF53 and I left CHF2 in change. This isn’t a percentage, but a gesture of appreciation because we took up table space for longer than the average customer. Dinner for four in a nice restaurant? I would pay the bill I am handed, no more.
Credit cards are part of the problem, because the international form often leaves a space for service, or tips. Leave it blank when you’re in Switzerland and copy the total. Don’t worry about looking cheap, as this is the correct thing to do.
What happens if you do leave a tip? It depends, again, on the place and the situation. In some restaurants, they will insist you take it back, assuming you aren’t aware that service is included. Swiss guests might do the same. In other retaurants, they will accept it, but be uncomfortable. And if the waiters are foreigners, they might be quite happy with it, but the owner will worry that you’ve left thinking the restaurant is more expensive than is really the case.
Lausanne and Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – The CGN boat company’s summer schedule goes into effect Sunday 13 June, which means the tourist cruise boats will be operating fully. Among the special offers are fine dining cruises, with wonderful meals from the Geneva port prepared by the kitchen staff working under one of the region’s best chefs, Geneva’s Philippe Chevrier (four-course meal CHF98, three courses for CHF85) and from Lausanne by the Beau-Rivage Palace.
You can dine at noon or in the evening.