Cheese, Chocolates and More: Dine in Swiss Style

Switzerland is not all that Yash Chopra has taught you. It is more than the snow-capped ranges of the Alps. It is more than women clad in chiffon sarees. It is more than romantic songs and dance. It is about a tantalising 300 varieties of sausages and 600 schools of cheese. It is about potatoes and chocolates. It is about lamb and salmon. Over and above it is about chocolates, chocolates and more chocolates.
We listen with rapt attention as Mr Marco Saxer, general manager of Swissotel Kolkata Neotia Vista, educates us on the demography of Switzerland and its influence on Swiss food. The place, as you rightly guessed, is Swissotel, and the event a special preview for the press and KFB that kickstarted the week-long gastronomic extravaganza to commemorate Swiss National Day (August 1).

We are ushered in by the ever-smiling and vivacious Enakshi and are soon served a chilled glass of pineapple and orange concoction...just perfect to refresh ourselves after an hour and a half's journey all the way to Rajarhat. Now Rajarhat may be a place I dread going to on my own, but any trip to Swissotel makes the effort totally worth it. Not only is their hospitality extremely endearing, their chilled out and relaxed atmosphere almost makes you feel you are dining in your own comfort zone.
The spread in front of us, brilliantly designed by Executive Chef Pranay Singh, is lavish to say the least. Chef painstakingly explains to us the various elements that go into the making of Swiss food, which has benefitted heavily from German, French and Italian influences. So like Germany, they too have a potato salad; like Italy, they thrive on pizza and like France they swear by puff pastry and cheese.
It is here that I calm my nerves and take a deep breath because the next few paragraphs will be dedicated to the most amazing fine dine experience I've had in a long, long time.

As we hover around the buffet spread, taking photographs and marvelling at Chef's creations, we are presented with the Mushroom Pastetli (tiny puff pastries stuffed with a mouth-watering mushroom and cheese filling and some more cheese sprinkled on top). Very soon follow the Sausage and Cherry Tomato Skewers, Grilled Zopf with Chicken and Swiss Cheese and Chicken Cordon Bleu (crumb fried chicken with ham and Swiss Cheese).
We continue to loiter in the dining space, this time halting at the Rosti station where fresh potato rostis are prepared live and served with a topping of cheese that perfectly balances the creaminess of the potatoes. Right next to the rosti counter is displayed the Cheese Fondue, simmering away on heat, with three bowls of broccoli, bread croutons and gherkins ready to be dipped into the melted Gruyere-Emmental lusciousness and devoured in glee.
Hungry by this time, which  is justifiably triggered by the veritable spread in front of us, we head straight for the salad and bread bar. What is in the offing is an assortment of Swiss breads, including Zof, Bundner Rye and Waadt Cross. I help myself to a slice of Rye and another of Zof and ladle some Bread and Cheese Soup and start my meal in bliss. The salad bar calls me again and this time I return with some creamy Swiss Potato Salad, fresh and crunchy Red Apple and Walnut Salad, sweet and savoury Carrot and Raisin Salad, Wurstsalat made with Swiss sausages and pickled onions and a creamy dressing, and an incredibly sinful Swiss Cheese Salad. To top it there is a Mixed Leaf Salad with a host of condiments, a Chicken Liver Pate and a Sour Cream-Chicken, Avocado and Tomato Verrine topped with a Swiss Cheese cross that comes in adorable shot glasses and steals our hearts.

The main course starts with Noodles and Capuns (steamed cabbage filled with vegetables). Of course I wasn't going to behave like last time when I had loaded my plate so much with veggies that I had to call it a day even before I made my way through to the proteins. So I skip these two. But then come the potatoes, and no reason is reason enough to dissuade you from them. So for the time being I turn oblivious to the world as I immerse myself in potato heaven (Sweet Potato Rosti and Potato slices in white sour sauce, traditionally known as Suuri Gummeli).

The euphoria continues as I help myself, one after the other, to Urner Hafelichabis (spiced lamb and cabbage stew) and undoubtedly one of the stand out items from the buffet, Suure Mocke (roast meat served in a sour sauce) and Chicken Zurichoise (chicken cooked in a creamy mushroom sauce) which, chef informs us, is originally cooked with veal but has been substituted with chicken to meet the availability quotient.

I also dig into the buttery Spatzle and Vegetable Casserole as I make my way to the seafood. Here I find luscious Prawns in Garlic and Lime and Salmon cooked in Sparkling Wine and a Herb and Cream sauce. The prawns are soft and tender, the meat melting in your mouth whereas the salmon, neatly accompanied by asparagus and broccoli, provides that perfect saltiness to your palate.

If you think this is the end of the story and I must stop before I burst even writing about all that I ate, let me take up two minutes of your time and take you to the dessert heaven where I found perfect fulfilment to the the gorgeous (you can see, I'm already running out of adjectives! Who uses the word "gorgeous" to describe a meal, huh?) meal I just savoured. This heaven boasted of little Swiss rolls, in strawberry and chocolate-hazelnut flavour), Engadine Nut Cake, Swiss Muesli Quark Cheese Torte, Mini Carrot Cupcakes, the ever comforting Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce, Sweet Chestnut Vermicelli and of course Chocolate Fondue with bite-sized fruits and marshmallows and of course my pick of the day, the soft, gooey, crumbly Meringues!

With a spread like this on offer, I wish there were at least 4-5 Swiss National Days round the year. But alas, you have to make hay while the sun shines. So what are you waiting for? This festival is on till August 7. Head straight over to Cafe Swiss between 7 pm-11 pm and sample this delectable dinner priced at Rs 1,600 + taxes per person. If you, like me, spend your dinner time in office, there's still scope for you to immerse yourself in this Swiss luxury. Walk in for their Sunday brunch on August 3 from 12.30-4 pm. This, with a special chocolate selection by Abhiru Biswas (from Barry Callebaut chocolates in Belgium), is priced at Rs 1,650 + taxes. It's Sunday afternoon already and I'm seriously thinking of paying Swissotel another visit!

PS: This was an invited review and the post is completely a personal account of the blogger based on her experience. No monetary compensation was involved.


Popular Posts