Our meal started off with a cheese platter consisting of some very unusual and some very strong cheese, brought all the way from Switzerland. In fact, Chef Wyssen told us that he brought along close to 210 KG of produce from Switzerland for his food festival. There were hard cheeses, and there were soft cheeses, and even some creamy ones as well. The names are just as strong as the cheese themselves, so I don't quite remember the names of the cheeses now. However, one thing is certain, and you don't need a degree in food sciences - cheeses have an acquired taste, so don't be too gung ho about tasting cheeses unless you're prepared to do so with an open mind and an adventurous palate.
Next stop, cheese fondue! For this, the chef took us to an area where other chefs were, in front of their burners, and used a heavy-bottomed pan to dunk some cheese into it. And finally, the fondue prongs that were on our table were put to good use, as can be seen in the snap below where the chef
Onto the actual hors d'oeuvre! Fancy eh? Well, it's French, and one part of Switzerland is French. Well, it means 'first course', or the course you have before the main course...starters, in lay mans terms. Oh wait, there's more fancy jargon around the corner. We started off with a lovely beef tartare with bacon gugelhopf. A gugelhopf is a term used in southern Germany, Austria, the Alsace region, and Switzerland for a sort of marble cake. This one had bacon. Everything tastes better with bacon. That's a fact, so deal with it.
The second snack was a dry beef slice, rolled and filled with cheese, on a slice of zucchini and a slice of toasted baguette. Red meat and cheese is a lovely combination, and still, this was probably the only 'boring' dish of the evening. Don't get me wrong, it's not that it was bad...it simply didn't measure up against its more illustrious, and tastier counterparts.
The next canape was interesting, and was my favourite. It consisted of Tete de Moine, a cheese that literally translates to "Monk's head", and combined with a plum and pear bread, this was a real winner for me. The pear bread is what actually stole the show - a fruity sweetness with the crumbly texture of the cake/bread and the cheese was simply fabulous.
We were also given a shot of cappuccino, but not the coffee kind. This was a special one, and used one of my favourite non-meat ingredient - mushrooms! It was a porcini mushroom cappuccino, and was lovely. The earthy flavour of the mushroom along with the light cream and minimal seasoning brought out the flavours to the hilt. In my excitement to down the 'shot', I didn't realise there was actually more than just one 'shot', and it was hot as heck. My throat burnt, I worried that I'd not be able to enjoy the main course, but thankfully it wasn't that bad.
And finally, the main course. The menu given to us said there would be a vegetarian dish, a dish that's as much Swiss as the masala dosa is Indian - the Rösti. A common breakfast dish of the farmers, it consists of roughly grated potatoes mixed with butter and seasonings that is then fried after shaping it into a rough patty. This was served with a mushroom sauce. The other dish was a lamb chop served on an elder aceto sauce and glazed pumpkin. The lamb chop was beautifully medium rare, nicely seasoned, and very tender. By this time actually, most of the diners at the table were dropping like flies coz they were full, and I must admit, you eat a lot of cheese and then some more in the form of fondue, your stomach will need to have some serious capacity to pack away the carbs (Rösti) and animal protein (lamb).
And as if all this food wasn't enough, there was dessert. And one of the most famous desserts from Switzerland, the carrot cake from the Aargau canton. The Aargau canton is famous for carrots, and in the words of the chef himself "they make everything from carrot...cake, pies, casserole, what not!" A strong waft of cinnamon from the cake makes it way into the nasal cavity, but it doesn't offend the senses, but entices you to dig in. And dig in I did...with gusto!
Overall, given that this was the first time I was actually eating Swiss food, I'd have to say that it was very good, and extremely interesting. And like India, different regions have different foods, owing to the influence from the Germans, the French, the Italians, and some dishes very native to the land itself. The Swiss food festival is on till the 14th of October at My Place, the all day dining restaurant at Mövenpick Hotel & Spa, Bangalore. For more details and making reservations, you can check here.