BERN, SWITZERLAND – The Swiss Statistical Office 15 November spilled the beans about how the Swiss spend their food money. Given the relatively high cost of meat in the country, it’s a wonder that the highest expenditure, for meat, is not more than CHF149 a month on average, per household. The second biggest outlay goes for bread and cereal, CHF101 a month, followed closely by milk and cheese, CHF100 a month.
Vegetables are in fourth place, with CHF75. Spending on fruit: CHF56.
The famous 12 kg per person of Swiss chocolate consumed is part of the CHF41 spent monthly on jam, honey and sweets. If you’re trying to work out how much the Swiss therefore spend on chocolate, remember that the consumption figures include tourists.
The food expenditure figures are part of a report on 2009 household spending in Switzerland published 15 November.
Household food and drink spending also goes for (average per month, per household):
- coffee, tea, cocoa – CHF24
- mineral water, juice, sweet drinks – CHF36
- alcoholic beverages – CHF68, of which wine is CHF52
- dining out – CHF462, of which CHF222 is meals in restaurants, cafes and bars, CHF66 is alcoholic beverages and CHF62 is non-alcoholic drinks. The rest is snacks and drinks in small food outlets.
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.
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.
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.
Recent tweets @RamblingEpicure and @SwissFoodies
THE RAMBLING EPICURE Dining in France: reviews by professional food writers.
THE RAMBLING EPICURE Theosophical dining in Crissier.
THE RAMBLING EPICURE Lake Geneva Region restaurant listings.
THE RAMBLING EPICURE Loads of info about restaurants, recipes, food, etc. in last week’s tweet list.
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.
This week’s foodie overview
I spend a lot of time reading, researching and tweeting about food and restaurants these days, so I thought I’d jot down my tweets from the last few days. These are from both The Rambling Epicure and Swiss Foodies and should give you an overview of what’s going on in the foodie world this week, in Switzerland and around the world.
Sometimes I couldn’t resist writing about the snow and skiing conditions, because that determines how a lot of us in Switzerland plan our weekends, and therefore what restaurants we go to or what recipes we cook up. And of course occasionally, watches and wine . . . and this week, the Vancouver Winter Olympics and those cute wooly pigs you see in the photo.
This week’s foodie overview
I spend a lot of time reading, researching and tweeting about food and restaurants these days, so I thought I’d jot down my tweets from the last few days. These are from both The Rambling Epicure and Swiss Foodies and should give you an overview of what’s going on in the foodie world this week.
This week was the countdown to Valentine’s Day, so I listed oodles of Valentine’s dinners, weekend packages at hotels and chocolate shops. You can find the Valentine’s venues I tweeted last week in the 20 Valentine venues, posted earlier this week.
Sometimes I couldn’t resist writing about the snow and skiing conditions, because that determines how a lot of us in Switzerland plan our weekends, and therefore what restaurants we go to or what recipes we cook up. And of course occasionally, watches and Alinghi . . .
Remember, these are just tweets
Remember these are just tweets, so they are short and sweet. They are not particularly orderly; I just tweeted the information as I found it.
I suggest you skim over the headings, and if you’re interested, just click on any of the links that interest you in order to read the detailed article.
Who knows, this might even tempt you to start tweeting yourself!
This week’s tweet list
20 Valentine venues: restaurants, chocolate and hotel packages for the “big day”!
Valentine’s events in La Gruyère.
Valentine’s package at Bernard Ravet, CHF500, hotel, champagne, 9-course dinner, breakfast for two, Relais & Châteaux.
Restaurants in French-speaking Switzerland w/ Valentine’s specials; just click on your canton! NOT TESTED BY THE RAMBLING EPICURE.
GenevaLunch: Lake Geneva Valentine’s cruise.
Ramada Geneva offering Valentine’s Day brunch as well as candelit dinner.
Hôtel des Armures in Geneva: special Valentine’s package, rooms, champagne, breakfast and chocolate.
Valentine’s package at Hotel Royal Geneva. Le Duo, chic delish restaurant & brasserie, chef trained by Bernard Loiseau.
Jamie Oliver’s Valentine’s Day menu, along with recipes and tips for a romantic feast.
GenevaLunch: Valentine’s for the “older” crowd.
Final countdown to Valentine’s Day: take your pick!
For the last week or so, I’ve had Valentine’s on the brain. I’ve been posting restaurants offering special Valentine’s meals, chocolate shops making all sorts of beautiful Valentine’s chocolates, as well as hotels offering Valentine’s packages on the Swiss Foodies Twitter account.
I’ve been trying to get you in the spirit, but now it’s time for the final countdown, because time is running short. To make things easier, I’ve gathered all the Valentine tweets here so you can start making plans for the weekend!
This list is by no means exhaustive and I may well add to it during the week, so keep in touch either here on The Rambling Epicure, or by following the Swiss Foodies tweets. Every time I stumble on something interesting, I’ll make sure and tweet it.
Valentine’s specials: something to suit everyone’s budget and schedule
- On Sunday, 14 February 2010, the CGN is sponsoring Valentine’s lunch cruises on all their major routes.
- List of restaurants all over Switzerland with Valentine’s specials; just click on your canton! Please note that I haven’t tested these restaurants, but they should include something appropriate for everyone’s taste, location and budget.
Vineet Bhatia, the Bombay-born chef who first got a Michelin star at his Chelsea restaurant Rasoi, and another one a few months ago at his Geneva restaurant Rasoi By Vineet in the Mandarin Oriental, is now off to Abu Dhabi, reports Perpetual Traveller Overseas.
Bhatia changed the face of the Indian culinary scene in London, where practically every restaurant served the same old same old, by breaking out of these boring boundaries and changing it into something modern, innovative and competitive. The number of modern Indian and Indian fusion restaurants in London, from budget price to upscale, has increased significantly as a result.
The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority is sponsoring its annual 15-day culinary get-together of starred chefs from around the world, starting on February 5. The meals will take place in Abu Dhabi’s most prestigious restaurants, with the guest chefs, who have twenty-two Michelin stars in all, working with the resident chefs. It is a real meeting of East and West.
Bhatia will be working with the chefs at Yas Island Rotana, a restaurant serving both North and South Indian cuisine, from 16 to 19 February 2010.
For more information, contact Gourmet Abu Dhabi.