We've just spent 9 days in Switzerland. Stunning weather - 7 of those days were clear blue skies and sunshine, beaming down on snow and ice - but not really a high point on my culinary calendar. Had a few memorable meals: the bratwurst and rosti in the picture was everything you want from bratwurst and rosti; had a really delicious cheese fondue with slices of porcini mushroom in it in Geneva; had an extraordinary garlic and white wine soup followed by an enormous steak cooked on a hot stone in Wengen. But generally it has to be said that the food was pedestrian.
We were on half-board at the hotel, and I think that was a mistake. It meant we felt like we were wasting money to eat elsewhere, but the food at the hotel wasn't all that good. The "Gala Christmas Banquet" on Christmas Eve was a case in point.
This was created by someone who doesn't understand the point of an amuse bouche. It is supposed to be a tiny, delicate mouthful to excite the palate and give an indication of the virtuoso cooking to come. In this case, it was a large triangle of soggy white toast, piled with pale green "avocado" puree that tasted of cream cheese and onion powder, surmounted by half a wrinkled cherry tomato.
The carpaccio had been plated so long before that it had fused to the plate, and could hardly be scraped up.
A reasonable soup. Couldn't taste the carrot for the maggi seasoning and cream, but it was a pleasant enough puree.
Fishrolls with salmon on white sauce
A slab of white fish, a slice of smoked salmon, rolled up and served, as they say, on white sauce. Also prepared long enough in advance to give nice, withered edges to the fish.
Really good, although I think serving a sorbet in between courses numbs the palate and ruins your wine.
Back of calf with cepecreamsauce beside Williampotatoes and filled tomatoes
OK, so English was not the first language of the person who wrote the menus. A very small piece of tender, slow-cooked meat - possibly veal - smothered in a mushroom sauce that tasted like Heinz cream of mushroom soup and had no obvious porcini flavour. Williampotatoes turned out to be pear-shaped nuggets of reconstituted powdered potatoes, crumbed and fried. The half tomato was filled with mealy, mushy peas.
Filled roasted apple beside warm vanillasauce with marzipan, raisin, vanilla pudding
Baked apple on Christmas-appropriate lumpy custard. Filled with half a teaspoon more custard. No sign of marzipan, raisin or vanilla pudding.
Still, it was better than our final meal of vealbreast stuffed with a block of spam.