High-quality Swiss cookware is a world away from supermarket style non-stick pans and traditional French copper.
I lived in France for many years, and swore by my French copper pans and Godin gas stove. On arrival in Switzerland, where many homes (at least ours) were long ago converted to convection cookers, I longed for my Godin and shiny copper pans, all shaped to meet the special purpose they were made for.
But since my philosophy in life is to “go local”, whether I’m in the Sahara or Geneva, Switzerland, I immediately started doing my research, and was more than pleasantly surprised at Swiss engineering and design skills when it comes to modern cookware. Their cookware is not only made to last a lifetime; it is made to conserve vitamins and is ecological.
So to get to the end of this long-winded tale, I would suggest the following gifts for any cook, whether gourmet or amateur. They will thank you every time they use it, and they will most likely use it every day for just about the rest of their lives.
It’s still not too late to order last-minute Christmas items from the BritShop in Root-Längenbold.
Items are shipped by post, according to the weight. Last orders for delivery before Christmas: Sunday, 20 December 2009.
France meets Oregon in the freshly fallen snow
Guest blogger Warren Bobrow grew up on a farm in the U.S. , which helped him develop a sense of smell, taste and vocabulary similar to that of a passionate master wine maker. His column on food, wine and life, Wild Table, appears daily in the online magazine, Wild River Review. Warren always says, “Trust your instincts and cook with passion!” He has good instincts and intelligent, experienced taste buds, which is why I like his food writing.
Growing up on a farm in New Jersey afforded me an upbringing that was rooted in a fruit orchard that dates back almost a century.
My governess named Gertrude hailed from Germany. She taught me to climb those gnarly fruit trees and attempt to pick the fruit that the birds had not yet devoured. I would have to act quickly though and remember I was competing with the unafraid Blue Jays who would seemingly dive-bomb me in competition for these fruits.
Eventually though, I would repeal these opportunistic birds long enough to bring pears down in a straw basket that I have to this day. Gertrude would carefully wrap each of theses pears in small paper bags for several days to further ripen them.
British Cheese Centre of Switzerland: online shopping
The British Cheese Centre of Switzerland offers many of their products online, including Christmas tasting packages.
Delivery all over Switzerland
They have a regular stall at the Zürich HB market on Wednesday, but deliver all over Switzerland, via priority post. Even if you’re in the most remote corner of Switzerland, it’s still not too late to get your Stilton for Christmas!
In addition to British farmhouse cheese, the “centre” stocks ale, McVicars English-style back bacon and sausages made in Switzerland, a selection of homemade pies, and a large range of quality chutneys and crackers. Other British products include tea, cakes and biscuits and for Christmas, Christmas puddings and mince pies. They eventually hope to stock homemade chocolates.
Those who live in the Zurich area will be interested to know that they hold regular tastings, and special events or receptions can also be organized.
They will be offering samples of their wares at the Rapperswil Christmas Market from 11 to 13 December on Lake Zurich, as well as the Rappi Bier Factory on 12th December, the Luzern International Christmas Market from 17 to 20 December, and the Moevenpick Wein Keller Zug. Free Port & Stilton tasting on 19 December.Tel. +41 081 733 3006
by Ellen Wallace
New variety of apples available in Switzerland: Tentation
I’m fussy about apples because I grow my own, four varieties, and I find too many supermarket apples soft or tasteless or too sweet or too acidic. New apples are constantly being developed, but like many consumers, I’m set in my ways and am not easily tempted to try them.
I’ve just tried Tentation™, an apple developed recently in the middle of France, and which has been distributed in Switzerland since November. It’s a cross between Golden Delicious, possibly my least favourite apple variety, and Grifer, aka Golden Blushing: the marriage is made in heaven. The apples are crisp, sweet yet pleasingly acidic, a lovely blush of pink on the rosy-gold skin.
My only complaint is that they are relatively large, too much for a snack. But they slice beautifully, and at our house were a success served as a Sunday mid-afternoon snack, with a handful of good mixed nuts.
Earlier this autumn I was brave and tried a new Swiss apple, Galmac, from a cross between Jerseymac and Gala. It was equally good, especially appreciated because it comes on the market earlier than most acidic apples.
Tentation was 10 years in the making, Galmac 23. After all that time and effort, they deserve the praise.
Where to buy them:
Label One offers home delivery of lots of hard-to-find goodies, including Gillardeau oysters (same as those served at the Brasserie Lipp), lobsters and crabs for holidays or special occasions, as well as rib-eye and sirloin steaks, wild fish, and other more common fare.
You can order online and if you order before 15:00 H, it will be delivered the next morning before 9:00 A.M. Delivery is free as of CHF 200, via ExpressPost or air. (My experience of food delivery by the Swiss ExpressPost system, using cold blocks, has always been problem-free.)
Products are packed in insulated bags, along with a cold block that maintains the temperature below 5° C/41° F.
Label One also offers catering of holiday meals, and such favorites as barbecue ribs and pancakes and maple syrup, as well as gift package delivery.
Their toll free number is 0800 LABEL 1 (0800 52235 1).
If you didn’t have time to make your Christmas puddings last winter, there is still a solution: order luxury puddings online. Yes, you still have time!
Figgys Puddings makes high-quality Christmas puddings using only the best ingredients. They come in lovely ceramic bowls.
They ship overseas, but do not list the date for last order. In any case, it would be wise to order as soon as possible.
Harrods offers luxury Christmas puddings and brandy butter, with a delivery time of 5 to 7 days to Switzerland.
Fortnum and Mason in Picadilly in London also offers a wide variety of Christmas puddings and cakes, including chocolate-flavored ones, as well as mince pies. The puddings come in lovely ceramic bowls you’ll want to keep.
Rum and cognac butters are also available. For Switzerland, orders must be in by midday, Monday December 14.
Even though stuffed turkey, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes are pretty standard fare, most families have their own version of the feast, including grandma’s recipes as well as traditional ones.
I’ve gathered some ideas that allow you to plan your own personalized Thanksgiving, right here in the Lake Geneva region, without having to have someone send you the ingredients from back home.
Epicurious has devised quite a clever Thanksgiving menu planner that should help everyone have a successful, stress-free Thanksgiving. You fill in a form, answering questions about what why type of dinner you want, and they propose a customized menu.
A gourmet Thanksgiving
I filled it in, with no holes barred, and this was what they suggested:
Converting measurements when using American recipes in Europe and abroad
On the English Forum, someone recently asked for information about how to convert measurements from American and British cookbooks, which measure dry ingredients differently. In American cookbooks, for example, a recipe might ask for a cup of flour, whereas in European recipes it would ask for the flour in grams.
I will repeat the recommendations I posted there.
Julia Child’s conversion tables
Since I was trained at Le Cordon Bleu and La Varenne, and raised on Julia Child, I have always used her extremely thorough and precise conversion tables. They are invaluable, because they give French, British and American equivalents, which is important since — perhaps you don’t know — an American ounce is quite a different thing than a British ounce! (I’m exaggerating a wee bit there.)
These conversion tables are to be found in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” of which an anniversary edition has just been published. Child, or simply “Julia”, as we like to call her in the world of cuisine, also provided temperature conversion charts, including both British and French “marks” as well as metric and Imperial temperatures. You might also find this masterpiece at Books Books Books in Lausanne.
I will try to reproduce these here in the next few weeks, because many people are quite understandably confused, especially when they first arrive in Europe.
If you do have anybody back in the U.S. who can send you a set of stainless steel measuring cups and spoons however, do ask them to do so. The American ones usually give the U.S. measurement as well as the metric equivalent. I agree that weighing small amounts is tedious, and once you start using these cups and spoons, you’ll soon get a feel for the metric equivalents.
They can easily be found in stores such as Walmart, and certainly in all major department stores, hypermarkets, superstores and, of course, in cookware shops. They are not expensive, and last forever. I’ve been using the same ones for 25 years now.
If you don’t have anyone who can send you the cheap variety, which is what I have, you can order them online from Fante’s Kitchen Ware Shops, which offers them in plastic, glass, and stainless steel, and in every shape, form and size imaginable.
The Intermarché Mousquetaires and Ecomarché supermarket chain now offers home delivery in certain locations.
Unfortunately, the choice is more limited than that of leshop.ch in Switzerland, and it is not in English, but the photos are easy to follow, even if you don’t speak much French. You won’t find as much variety as at the supermarket, but it can still come in handy when you’re in a pinch.
You can also do your shopping online in locations where delivery is not available, and then pick it up at the store, or if you’re traveling, you can order it and have it delivered so it will be there on your arrival. This service can also come in handy when you or your children are sick and can’t go out to shop, and for senior citizens who might have problems of mobility.
Payment is either by credit card or check.
To find out if the service is available in your region, simply go to the ExpressMarché site and type in your postal code either in France or Switzerland. If it is available in your area, a timetable will be displayed showing the days and hours the service is available (this varies widely from one location to another, so check it out carefully).