Celebrating Swiss National Day at Swissotel, Kolkata
"I've made a quintessentially Swiss dessert today — simple, easy and elegant. Mr Marco Saxer (GM of Swissotel Neotia Vista) told me that no Swiss spread is complete without the Apple Roesti, and after a few trials and errors, the version that you'll eat today was what we narrowed down upon," said Executive Chef Pranay Singh with a twinkle in his eyes as we sat down for an elaborate lunch at Swissotel, Kolkata, to commemorate the Swiss National Day (August 1). Mr Saxer added his bit to the legend surrounding the Apple Roesti. "The credibility of a chef, back in Switzerland, is marked by how good his apple roesti is. There is a tradition that if diners are not satisfied with the dish they throw the roestis at the chef!" That is some serious consequence to worry about, I thought. But before my trail of thoughts could take its own course, began the paraphernalia that Swissotel is all about.
Inkeeping to the theme "Swiss at Heart", our first course for the day was a hearty and comforting Bread and Cheese Soup. Perfect for the rain-soaked afternoon, we gulped down this hot cup of sumptuousness with utter delight. And then the dishes started flowing in one after the other: The spread comprised of Chicken Cordon Bleu, Melted Margherita Pizza, Sweet Potato Roesti, Gamberi al Aglio (Garlic-seared Prawns) but what stole my heart more than anything else were the bite-sized wonders Pastetli (Mushrooms in Puff Pastry) and the Saffron Risotto with Swiss Cheese. The starchy consistency of the arborio rice just perfect, the sharpness from the cheese just enough and infused with the warmth of saffron, this was definitely the dish of the day for me. We were also made to taste the the Beef Fillets in Rosemary Jus from the regular buffet menu, and despite my fervent determination to not touch carbs in form of breads, I found myself tearing into a neat little bun placed in front of us and wiping the jus clean with it. :)
How can a Swiss lunch be complete without some fondue? The Käsefondue, made with an amalgamation of gruyere and emmental cheese was another highlight of the experience. More crusty bread came out at this juncture, and having already broken my resolve once, I dunked those bits in the fondue and devoured them with abandon. At this point, Mr Saxer chipped in with another anecdote. "In Switzerland, whosoever will drop his bread into the fondue will have to foot the entire bill!"
The savoury now gave way to the sweet and dolloped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and vanilla sauce, the most talked about dessert made its entry. And what a humble dessert it was! No fancy ingredient, technique or skill required, this apple roesti was something you or I could easily whip up on a chilly lazy afternoon. Pieces of stale bread, shredded apple, some walnuts, spiced with cinnamon and cooked in French butter — Chef gave us the recipe even and we were only too happy to lap it up.
The Carrot Cake was yet another star in its own rights and so were the individual Engadine Tarts and Strawberry Cheesecakes.
You can get your helping of this Swiss extravaganza by hopping in to Cafe Swiss any Wednesday for the entire month of August. Happy indulging!
I attended this event as part of Kolkata Food Bloggers and a big round of thanks to Anwesha for lending me her phone to take pictures.
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