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
Lausanne, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – You still have a couple days left to sample artisanal chocolates and buy them at a discount at several chocolate boutiques in the region. Chocolate Week, the brainchild of Neuchatel’s chocolate-makers several years ago, was adopted by Vaud five years ago and more recently by Fribourg and Geneva. The idea is to introduce local chocolate lovers to hand-crafted chocolates, which not only taste good, but tend to use better products, have less sugar and lower fat content. Here’s the list of who is participating and what they’re offering in 2010. The chocolate week ends Saturday 6 November. Some of my favourites don’t take part officially, but they won’t object if we celebrate by stopping by.
Personally, I’ve done my bit by stopping in at Tristan’s chocolate boutique in Bougy-sur-Villars, one of my favourites in the region, where I stocked up on presents for the family (including me). He has two new chocolates which are now on my “best” list since my last visit in July, a dark chocolate with pecans with extraordinary flavour and a Cambodian pepper chocolate which is quite different from his Tasmanian or pimiento pepper chocolates. Less bite, more elegant pepper flavour and feel. I also bought rosemary, green tea in dark chocolate and myrtle chocolates.
Myrtle, if you’re not familiar with it and are seeing “myrte” in the shop, is not myrtille, or blueberry. Myrtle comes from a shrub, and is akin in flavour to juniper and rosemary. It was used years ago in making Italy’s famous mortadella, but juniper is more commonly used for that now.
I am heading out the door to Morges soon to try one of the Vaud bouchon specialties, which I’ve never had. I’ll report back soon on that, with a photo.
And lucky for me, one of the participating chocolatiers is in Saint Prex, Boillat, and they’re offering 10 percent off on chocolate, a dangerously good deal. We’re doubly blessed, with a second excellent chocolate maker, Alexandre, right in the old town section of Saint Prex, and his busy, tiny shop is one of the nicest places around for morning coffee. With a bit of chocolate, of course.
Not bad for a town of 5,000.
Warning: once you develop a taste for this kind of chocolate you may find it extremely difficult to settle for the popular big commercial brands, although I did just receive a last-minute additional request from an overseas family member to whom I am shipping some of Tristan’s chocolate, at his request: “The Lindt chocolate in the red package is really good. Like… Lindor but in bar form? Creamy in the middle? That one was really good, feel free to send some of that. I have finished all the chocolate you brought over by the way.”
Related news story on Barry Callebaut financial results, the International Cocoa Agreement, 4 November 2010
Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – (Video link included) Some dishes are simply delicious; others we love because of the memories they evoke. It’s not always easy to fall in love with the specialties in a country where you didn’t grow up. I’ve always loved American apple pie and I have a certain amount of fame in small circles for making an excellent one, with garden apples, so I was astonished when an elderly Swiss neighbor told me it was a lovely pie “but it would certainly be better if you didn’t add a top crust – that’s just too much crust.”
She’s probably right, but this is my traditional, grew-up-with-it USA apple pie and I won’t change it, thanks.
I know a lot of Genevans feel the same about plum pie, which I find pleasant most of the time and really good in the hands of a grandma who knows what she’s doing, out in the countryside. Today is Geneva’s “Jeûne genevois” cantonal holiday and plum pie was once the only thing you were allowed to eat on this day of religious fasting. For the past several years it’s simply been the dessert of choice, and all the shops in the region sell these. But the best, of course, will be the one you make yourself, and it must be one of the easiest pies to prepare. A classic recipe is offered by Pique-Assiette, whose video‘s make cooking easy and fun. Better yet, if you’re struggling to improve your French, this is a great way to learn!
Starting point: buy fresh fruit. Here’s a list of 35 farmers who sell fruit directly, from the cantonal agricultural department. You can also search the database by locality.
Pique-Assiette has a summer cooking programme on TSR public television. She’s not a famous chef but rather a popular cook with uncomplicated recipes. Her plum pie recipe calls for a prepared pastry that you can buy at any supermarket in Switzerland with a layer of crushed dry Amaretti biscuits for the crust. She uses 40 grams. Prick it with a fork in several places. The dark plums (she uses 750 grams) that you find everywhere in Switzerland this time of year are sliced lengthwise and placed neatly, skins down, on the crust. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar. Bake at 200C for 35 minutes.
Now here is a curious coincidence. When I was googling Geneva and plums I came across an article written in 2007 about how Geneva “leads the nation in producing new varieties of European plums”, which sounded odd. It’s about Geneva, New York, written by researchers at the University of Cornell, and the gorgeous photos of deep purple plums look just like the ones growing on our trees in Geneva, Switzerland. The article carries interesting information about the health benefits of plums, the wealth of varieties and more. It is New York-oriented but this tip holds here in Geneva, Switzerland, too: “Remember that any fruit purchased locally will be superior in flavor, aroma and nutrition because it is picked at a peak of ripeness.”
Happy holiday! Mmmmm.
[update: video added] Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) - Here is hope for the unemployed: keep the faith that you are good at what you do and you will be rewarded. Denmark’s arguably best chef, Rasmus Kofoed, won the Bocuse d’Or title of Europe’s best chef, last week in Geneva. His Michelin-starred Copenhagen restaurant, Geranium, was closed recently for financial reasons, and the chef is currently without a restaurant, but he is expected to re-open it in August near the Parken sports stadium in the city.
The prize comes with a €12,000 award. Second and third place winners Gunnar Hvarnes of the Restaurant Hos Ingrid in Stavanger, Norway and Jérôme Jaegle, Restaurant Têtedoie in Lyon, France, were awarded €9,000 and €6,000 respectively.
Kofoed, age 35, has previously won bronze and silver at the competition. He now joins chefs from around the world for the 2011 Bocuse international final in January in Lyon, sometimes referred to as the World Cuisine Contest (Concours mondial de la cuisine).
His entries in the Geneva event:
- “flétan demi-sel au beurre noisette, morilles et fleurs de ciboule”
- “rôti de veau au jambon de Skagen, gressillons soufflés, airelles et pain noir, servi avec des ris de veau croustillants, asperges blanches, ail des ours et raifort”.
The competition, presided over by Swiss three-star chef Philippe Rochat and French chef Joël Robuchon, invites 20 young chefs from 20 countries. The event takes place during the French-Swiss Gourmet salon in Geneva. The chefs have five hours 35 minutes to prepare two dishes in front of the public, working in 18m2 boxes. The first is meat-based, this year Swiss veal with two side dishes. The second is a fish-based dish, for 2010 one Sterling halibut weighing 5-6 kilos, with its head, served with two side dishes.
Kofoed came in second in 2007 in a competition tainted by controversy over pots used by winning chef Fabrice Desvignes. The pots arrived after the competition began.
Interview with Kofoed about his new Geranium2 restaurant, scheduled to open this summer.
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.
I received this from the Kempinski Grand Hotel in Geneva, and memories began to surface, of visiting my inlaws in southern Africa, with great braiis and South African wines. I’m wondering where else in the region we can find football served up with good South African food, so add a comment and we’ll make a list if you know of good places.
To let you know the Grand Hotel Kempinski Geneva will set up the FloorTwo Bar overlooking lake Geneva, with Super screens, South African dishes, wines and beers.
I don’t know what the Kempinski has planned, but a little googling brought up some old standby recipes for a braii, including Roostekoek, Boerwors, pap en sous, and Sosaties. These aren’t elegant restaurant meals, but down-home recipes from the South African Home School curriculum.
GenevaLunch is looking for contributors to our revised food blog, now called Savouring Switzerland! We are opening up some of our blogs to the local international community in the Lake Geneva region, to give more people a voice and an opportunity to share their knowledge and experience. We have a small group of writers lined up to write about food and we are looking for more.
If you are interested, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org, including a link to online samples of your work. If you want to send attachments, please make sure they are not bigger than 2MB.
Here is what we are looking for:
- published writers (this can mean your own blog as long as there are enough entries for us to judge the writing): reliability, good writing, a love of all things related to food
- food photographers
- contributors who will write 1-2 times a month, anywhere from 50-300 words, with accompanying images as a general rule
- wide variety of topics: food news, Switzerland and food, regional dishes, shopping, markets, recipes (not our main focus, however) of interest to the international community, food sources for a variety of national cuisines, food trends, seasonal, cooking with children – the possibilities are wide open.
We can offer you the most widely-read source of news and information in English in the region, with an excellent reputation for quality, as a platform. We will provide a link to your own blog or web site if you are a regular contributor. Please note that, as with all blogs, we do not edit and there is no payment.
Our thanks go to Jonell Galloway-White, who has done a wonderful job of writing The Rambling Epicure in this space for the past year, will now be setting up her own independent blog (and contributing, when she has time, to Savouring Switzerland) to focus more on European cuisine.
By Ellen Wallace
Most of us don’t have the luxury of going out into the garden, picking the asparagus, then cooking it within minutes, which gives a heavenly vegetable.
The best alternative, and this is the season for it, is to go to the farmer’s door early in the morning to buy freshly picked stalks, then cook them for lunch. Canton Geneva has several farmers who sell directly but be forewarned that they are likely to be sold out by 10:00 at the height of the season!
Canton Valais is famous for its asparagus and Saillon is renowned as the Valais capital, with green and white equally popular.
Lai Thai is in an elegant setting. The owner went to Swiss hotel school, so you are always greeted like a king or queen and the service is impeccable. A wide range of Northern Thai dishes you don’t ordinarily find in hole-in-the-wall type Thai restaurants, such as the special Thai rice and fish fritters with a delicious dipping sauce, as well as great massamans. Set menus go for CHF 55, 65 and 78 and the servings are generous. Located in what was formerly a Geneva institution, the Café Gothard.Rue du Gothard 11
1225 Chêne-Bourg Tel. +41 (0)22 348 48 17
Traditional Italian cuisine in a chic contemporary decor, located in Plainpalais near the Musée Patek Philippe. The bar serves tapas with the cocktails and is a hangout for young people.Avenue du Mail 15bis
Tel. +41 (0)22 328 07 01 Site.
Les 5 Portes
French cuisine.Les 5 Portes, rue de Zürich 8, 1201 Geneva, tel. +41 022 731 84 38. Open Tues. through Fri. 09H00 to 02H00, Sat. 17H00 to 02H00, Sunday 11H00 to 20H00.
American-style Sunday brunch, with mimosas, Bloody Marys. Nice price.L’Alhambar, rue de la Rôtisserie 10, 1204 Geneva, entrance through Parc Pélisserie. Tel. +41 022 312 13 13.
Saturday and Sunday brunch from 10H00 to 18H00, including scrambled eggs, pancakes, sandwiches, muesli, bread, croissants, brioches, etc. Garden terrace in summer.Calm, rue Ancienne 36, 1227 Geneva, +41 022 301 22 20.
Le Cheval Blanc
All-you-can-eat buffet for CHF 22. Buffet includes bread and jam, pastries, birchermuesli, various kinds of eggs, as well as quiches, original mixed salads, cheese and sausage. Also a selection of desserts. Reservation advisable.
Le Cheval Blanc, Place de l’Octroi 15, 1227 Carouge, tel. +41 022 343 61 61 from 11H00 to 15H00 on Sundays.