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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Inspiring Geneva

A very brief stint in Geneva recently took me on a magical mystery tour of this hopelessly inspiring city, armed with a million questions to answer about its history and current international prowess. I spent 2 days positively gleaning as much as I could about all things Swiss, from the chocolate, fondue and wine (who knew they made wine?!), to its infamous reputation as the worldwide centre for diplomacy, knowledge and money! OK, so it was only 144 questions, but that’s still enough to feel the burn of the challenge…and I'm competitive.

Amidst a long list of highlights, I did manage to eat and I shall definitely tell you about that, but I would never forgive myself for not giving you a very brief summary of what this city has to offer. It’s certainly not the most beautiful I've ever seen, but beneath the complex mixture of ancient beauty from yesteryear and outright ugly architecture from around the 1960's, and you will find a treasure trove of delights. I visited Cite du Temps because we've all surely owned a Swatch watch at some point (haven’t we?!); I listened to the bellowing organs inside the Cathedral St Pierre, and strolled past the Palais Wilson, which is the current HQ of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights (ooo la la!). I wandered around the Museum International de la Reforme to give myself a little more context to this so-aptly named City of Peace, then I ambled around the Brunswick Monument and along the lakeside, over to the United Nations (double ooo la la!)! Yes, this is a lot of walking. The highlight of the trip for me though, aside from the 144 questions of course, was exploring CERN (triple OOO LA LAAAAA!) - it's a magical hub of scientific innovation and pioneering research, respected on a global scale. I give thanks to all the poor boffins who gracefully answered my layman questions about quarks and leptons, and who were super attentive to my probing into the social and ethical implications of such ground-breaking, controversial and/or often highly politicised knowledge

Lest we forget though, I supposedly write about food and what better place to start than with the influence that the French have over everything in Geneva – the city borders France from almost every angle and infact, many of its workers and visitors still live there (undoubtedly saving themselves a pretty penny in the process I assume!). It should come as no surprise then, that the food is rich, classic and brimming with culinary precision and I'm sorry that I am compelled to only share my Swiss clichés with you today…stop reading now if you’re not interested in chocolate or vats of cheese!

I’ll share my sweet story first because I experienced it first and because randomly, I realise as soon as I walk through the door, that I've eaten this brand of cocoa just recently in London! Philippe Pascoet is a tiny chocolatier in the old suburb of Carouge (a rather civilised and chic canton at that), that thoughtfully combines herbs, fruit purées and spices to create glorious bites of fine dark chocolate encased ganache. A whopping price tag to us Londoners though, I'm afraid, and only stocked in the finest of the fine food halls in London. I would highly recommend for the discerning chocoholic, but for me (don’t tell anyone!), I'm not the biggest fan and I would just as happily tuck into a Quality Street fruit cream or After Eight as I would one of these bites of molten gold. I can certainly appreciate the sheer quality of produce though, and I learned stacks about making chocolate (10 questions down!).

Now, saving the best to last, please allow me to drag you into my fantasy fondue land! I admit that it is always a lot of fun to battle with a tea light and all this melted cheese, garlic and alcohol at home, but I'm frankly not nearly as interested unless I can chow down with a bunch of cow bells, blackened wood beams and swathes of gingham (throw an accordion into the background and some après ski, and a happy lady you would make!). Hotel & Restaurant Edelweiss offers you just this and what a delight it was! I imagine it to be a rather surreal hotel, but as a restaurant it had a fabulous vibe, an über traditional interior, and a fabulous mezzanine dining area skirting the tops of a larger dining hall; most importantly though, there was meat, pickles, cheeeeeese and oodles of bread on the menu. Roll me over, I'm done…even if it didn't earn me any points on that damn quiz!  

Square Meal

Restaurant Edelwiess

Geek graffiti
Bringing it home!

Most beautiful bit of art I've seen in a gallery in  long while...

Scallops flambéed with vodka

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