29-08-2015 The Day We Said Yes & A Welcome to Autumn

29-08-2015 The Day We Said Yes & A Welcome to Autumn

The reason I took a break last week is because on the 29th of August we got married! 😀

Continue reading

Since I still had guests from away that stayed home I decided to dedicate my attention to them…besides the fact that I really needed some rest from all the pre-wedding stress and the partying (the night before the big event I only slept four hours). I can only say that the day exceeded my expectations as we had such an incredible time, ambience and weather: a day made of all the flavours of love. Here are just a few of the pictures from a wedding in southern Switzerland.

 

Since our wedding occurred on the last actual weekend of real summer weather and now we’re gently slipping into autumn I decided to welcome the new season by cooking something with butternut squash. A nice casserole/gratin always makes me happy and with cooler evenings it’s a dish that works well. I wanted the flavours to “marry” well together. After consulting my Flavour Thesaurus from Nikki Segnit I decided to use some goat cheese and rosemary to accompany the butternut squash and potatoes. I decided to lightly roast the potatoes and butternut before baking them in the oven, this added some extra flavour to the dish. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.

 

Butternut Potato Gratin with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

 

 

 

Butternut Potato Gratin with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

Recipe for 4-6

Prep time: 20-25 min

Cook time: 40-45 min

 

Ingredients:

500 g waxy potatoes

500 g butternut squash

1 tbsp. chopped rosemary leaves

2 garlic cloves

Cayenne pepper

1.5 dl milk

200 g sour cream (I used ½ fat)

1 egg

100 g grated hard goat cheese

1 tbsp. vegetable oil (+ extra to grease baking dish)

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe:

Peel the potatoes cut them into 2 cm pieces. Bring a pan filled with salty water to a boil and cook the potatoes until they’re soft. Once they’re ready drain them.

Meanwhile cut the butternut squash into 2 cm pieces, too. Pass the garlic through a garlic crusher.

On a medium fire, in a non-stick pan heat 1 tbsp. vegetable oil and add the potatoes and butternut pieces to brown. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste. Toss regularly. After about 10 minutes add the rosemary and garlic and continue cooking for another 5-10 min.

In a bowl combine the sour cream, milk and the egg and mix all together.

Grease a baking dish and transfer the vegetables, on top sprinkle the grated goat cheese and finally pour the milk, sour cream and egg mixture.

Cook in a preheated oven at 220°C for 15-20 min.

Walnut Crusted Tomme Cheese & a Night Out in The Village

Walnut Crusted Tomme CheeseA part from the different decorations I’ve seen around, I really feel Christmas is just around the corner. Since a few years, in my village there is a contest about who makes the best nativity scene. Continue reading

The day the contest officially starts there is a small celebration in the village; besides looking at the nice work the inhabitants have made, there are also a few food and drink stands where we can enjoy a nice moment together. Friends of mine produce an amazing cheese and I knew they would hold a Raclette stand so I told them I would come by. When I arrived it was still early but soon people began arriving and not long after I found myself helping them preparing the melted cheese. I had a really nice time and despite my initial idea was go to there, have a bite and a drink, I ended up being among the last people to leave the celebration. Here are a few pictures of the “Via dei Presepi” (“The Path of The Nativity Scenes”).

In the mood for some more delicious melted cheese, I made this recipe, which is very easy but so tasty. For the breading I used walnuts which, with a cheese that has the consistence of a brie works very well. Together I made a radicchio and apple salad with a honey dressing and I found the combination to be just heavenly.

 

Walnut Crusted Tomme Cheese

 

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 15 min

Cook Time: 8-10 min

 

Ingredients:

For the cheese

4 tomme cheeses (100 g each – not too soft)

45-50 g chopped walnuts

4 tbsp. breadcrumbs

2 tbsp. flour

Pepper

1 egg

1.5-2 tbsp. grape seed oil

 

For the salad:

2 tbsp. grape seed oil

1 tbsp. white wine vinegar

1.5 tbsp. runny honey

Salt and pepper

200 chopped radicchio

1 small apple (I used Braeburn)

 

Recipe:

Start preparing the salad by mixing the first four ingredients in a bowl. Quarter the apple and slice each quarter. Add the radicchio and apples to the salad, toss and set aside.

Take a dish and add the flour with a little pepper, break the egg in a bowl and mix and in a third dish mix the breadcrumbs with the walnuts.

Start by dipping one tome in the flour, shake of any excess, then pass it in the egg and finally coat with the breadcrumb-walnut mix. Repeat for each piece.

Heat the grape seed oil in a pan and add the breaded tommes to cook for 3-4 min per side.

Remove from pan and serve without waiting accompanied by the salad.

 

Gusta il Borgo 2014

Gusta il Borgo 2014 Last Saturday with the same small group of three we met up like last year to participate at the 3rd edition of the enogastronomic walk Gusta il Borgo 2014 held in Ascona, by the Amis da la Forcheta. Even if I had a cold and (from what I learned yesterday) a small stress fracture on my ankle, I would not have missed this event for almost anything in the world. I was right to go anyway because like last year we had a great time filled with laughs, great food and drinks. With our tasting glass around our necks, the map and a few supplementary goodies, we began our walk at half past eleven. At a short distance from the starting point was the first stop where we were served coffee, a croissant and muesli with farina bona flakes and raspberries. While we began eating our “breakfast” a group of men arrived and one of them began to wear strange clothes for a man while the others watched and laughed; soon we found out that they were celebrating a bachelor party. This was an entertaining start. Continue reading

Gusta il Parco – 07.06.2014

Last Saturday I participated to my second enogastronomic walk and I can tell you I was looking forward to it. Continue reading

Beside the great produce you get to taste it’s the friendly environment I’m really fond of. This walk was a little different from the Gusta il Borgo as the different stages of tasting spots are not in any set precise order. In addition to the different tasting stages, there was also the possibility to visit/see spots of natural, cultural or historical interest. Late in the morning I met up with my two most usual adventure companions in Ponte Brolla where we had a coffee and soon enough we would inaugurate the day with a glass of wine while watching the amazing landscape around us.Gusta il Parco

We first headed to Verscio which was one of the two possible starting points and got our bracelets along with the first produces which were different artisanal beers and a few nibbles. With the heat rising I was happy to begin the walk with a cold beer (the white one being my favourite). I just want to mention that I tasted a Merlot bread sandwich, which I found to be just delicious. I absolutely want to try to make this at home.

Soon we were on the road heading towards the next tasting spot where we had some wine and a soup made with a local product I have already mentioned: the Farina Bona (basically it’s pop corn flour). This particular flour is very flavourful and it can be used in infinity of products from sweet to savoury. The other great thing about this flour is it doesn’t need cooking to be consumed.

Back on the road, our next chosen tasting spot was under the trees where the “grottoes of Tegna” are. On out way there we passed in front of one of the historical spots we could visit during the day which was a bomb shelter dating back to WW II. Now I know we were not in the war but in case of need we would be prepared.Gusta il Parco

Once we reached the grottoes it was like entering a fairy tale. These places have something magical about them and whenever I find myself there my imagination starts running. The sunlight going through the forest trees contrasting with the shadows, these entrances in the mountain that seem to hide secrets and legends… well, you have to see it to feel it. Our ancestors used grottoes to store their food and wine; they didn’t have electricity but I can assure you about the efficiency of such places. In fact we enjoyed a little bit of the energy-free coolness before we got down to tasting the scheduled cheese platter with some honey and wine.

Next our expedition of three made an unplanned coffee stop before we continued. Okay, I admit we also had a platter of cured meat and a little water and some more wine. After this we walked spontaneously without really following the map and in fact, since none of us has a good sense of orientation, we sort of lost our way. Soon we would be on the right track again but lost some time in the guessing. Along the river and through the forest and vineyards we reached what would be our last tasting spot. I say ours because unfortunately time was going by and we didn’t manage to reach the last two tasting stages. The two main reasons were that our unplanned “coffee” stop took longer than planned and since I had been walking barefoot on the super hot asphalt I earned myself the two largest blisters I have ever had and they were both on my heels. I really regret not going through all the stages. I promise next time I shall not make the same shoe mistake. I still have an unaccomplished feeling about Gusta il Parco I’ll wait for the return match.

Finally I want to congratulate all the team of the Amis da la Forcheta for their great job in finding original ideas and the way they manage to get though them. Thank you guys and keep up the great work!

General information:

What: Gusta il Parco: an enogastronomic walk made up of 6 stages + 7 stages with either a cultural, historical or natural interest.

Why: to promote the project for the National Parc of the Locarnese

Where: Switzerland – Ticino- Terre di Pedemonte

When: 07.06.2014

For who: Everyone as long as you have walking proof shoes (I speak from personal experience)

Links:

– amisdalaforcheta.ch (here you can see more pictures of the event, if they are not posted yet they will soon be there)

– parconazionale.ch

Funivin – Wine Tasting and a Ride on the Funicular Crans-Montana Sierre

Last Saturday I went again to Crans-Montana and with a couple of old friends and my boyfriend we headed to the funicular for an excursion I was really looking forward to. Continue reading

 Before we went down we got our tickets and the man explained us where we had to walk to in order to reach the “Château de Villa” in Sierre (a short walk away from the Muraz stop). We went all the way to Sierre and from there we reached the place in about 10 minutes.

I hoped the weather would be sunnier (the pictures would have gained some shine) but in the end it was so warm that by the time we got to the “Château de Villa” I had removed my coat and a couple of layers. I already know this place because we sometimes come here for dinner. I recommend it because the food is good and traditional and I love the possibility of tasting different raclette cheeses for around the canton Valais. This time we were there for the wine so we entered the cellar and handed our tickets to the girl at the bar.

With the tickets, besides the ride and the wine tasting there is also a free entrance to the wine museum next door. I guess we were supposed to visit the museum before heading to the wine tasting and since the staff was not too aware of how we should proceed we began by the tasting session.

The first wine we had was a Fendant

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Petite Arvine

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Sauvignon Blanc

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Humagne Rouge

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Cornalin

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All the wines were very nice but my favourites were the petite Arvine and the Sauvignon Blanc. We enjoyed the moment so much that when we were done with the wine tasting we ordered a bottle along with a couple of plates of dried meat. Meanwhile we didn’t even realize that time was going by and in the end it got too late to visit the museum. It would have been nice to see it although I think, actually I’m sure that this is not the last time I will go on this excursion. I promise I will make an update on the museum when I return there.

The ride on the funicular always makes me dream of flying and the “Château de Villa” is a beautiful destination outside and inside. Inside, I also have to say the service was very friendly and this something of personal importance. The only thing is that I guess that not many people take advantage of this offer. When I asked the young waitress whether this excursion is popular she said that about once a month they get someone doing this activity. I had to make a few phone calls before I got all the answers I needed. Now I know and it’s an easy thing as there is no need to book anything. Thanks Bibbo, Fabio and Stefano for the company and thanks to the fruits of the land.

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Links:

www.sierre-anniviers-booking.com

www.chateaudevilla.ch

For who: Adults

When: From March to October – the last ride of the funicular is at 21:15.

What: a return ticket with the funicular Montana-Sierre or Sierre Montana, a visit to the vine museum and a tasting session of 4 wines and a welcome drink.

Price: 33.- CHF (instead of 52.-)

The Yoghurt Factory in Airolo – Muuh


On Friday, on my way to Crans Montana for the weekend, I stopped to visit my old friend Andreas at his work place: he work at the yoghurt factory in Airolo (the village just before the Gotthard tunnel when you’re heading north). Continue reading

I arrived by train and as I was stepping down the train I could already see the yoghurt factory since the place is basically part of the small train station of Airolo. Soon I was told to enter the place and wear the “sexy” protective clothing: shoe protections, plastic mantel and a headset. Andreas then came to me and gave me the official welcome (even though we had already seen each other five minutes before) and we began the tour. By the way he was speaking I had the impression it was not the first time someone was visiting, which is something he confirmed. Of course there are business related visits and journalists , but it’s nice that sometimes  schools come over to visit (of course the tour is organized in a slightly different way then) and the children can have a taste of the products. I like this spirit of letting people satisfy their curiosity, I can say that it’s not everywhere this way.

Andreas took me through the process and explained to me the different steps: from when the milk arrives to the finished product. However, more than focusing on the technical process, I want to write about the product because I think it deserves the attention. This is a small factory and besides the farmers providing the milk, there are six people in the “Yogurtificio” (that’s how we call the place in Italian). Andreas is the manager and above him is his owner and boss. I am mentioning Mr. Lombardi (Andreas’ boss) because I remember that less than one year ago he was awarded the prize for innovative agriculture.

The particularity of this product is that the origin of the milk used to produce the yoghurt strictly comes from the region around the Airolo. This also involves the condition that the milk comes from cows which are only fed with grass which has not been ensilaged. This really helps with the taste which is not acid. Another trait of this product is that the flavoured yoghurts are made with products without that are additive-free. The “Yogurtificio” delivers in the Ticino region to Coop and Migros: the two most popular Swiss supermarket chains in Switzerland. Despite the yogurt factory is only about 2-3 years old, it’s doing well and recently it has even began delivering to the Zurich region. Besides the two big clients, the “Yogurtificio” also have their own packaged yogurt which is the Muuh brand, these products are made for the smaller commerce and hotels and restaurants.

I am not a daily yogurt consumer but this one is a good product, trust me, I have tasted a few. Before Andreas worked there, he used to bring a bottle whenever I made dinner; today along with the wine he also brings over yogurt (and not only a couple of pots). Thanks Andreas for the generosity and the fun and interesting moment.

 

Related Links (in Italian):

This is the actual site of the Yogurtificio. There is little information but you can find the contact details.

agroval.ch

These are the two supermarkets that sell the yogurts from Agroval. The first is an actual interview to Mr. Lombardi (Andreas’ boss). The second is the Coop’s program Pro Montagna which is a range of products selected from the mountainous regions of Switzerland.

migros.ch

coop.ch

The Making of Dried Meat

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Yesterday I had an appointment at my local butcher and I was really looking forward to that. Continue reading

I know that making dry meat is a simple procedure but I wanted to learn more about how it is made and thanks to the butcher a few villages away I had the chance to see it in detail. I arrived at the butcher shop in Gordevio (Maggia Valley) and the two Zanoli brothers were ready or almost. Since Boris was still fixing something, Franco generously offered me a glass of wine and we joked and chatted. I told them that to me this butcher shop is something sentimental because when I was still too small to even see what was displayed in the counter; I was already going there (except that I was more interested by the ice creams back then).

The two brothers:

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So we began and the first thing to do is to weight the meat. From then, according to the amount of meat, the salt, sugar and the spices (they use peppercorns, ground nutmeg and cloves) are calculated and weighted and placed in a batch. I was quite surprised by the use of sugar but it actually helps keep the colour of the meat. After a bit of enquiry among the clients I was happy to notice that I was not the only ignorant about the use of sugar in the making of dried meat.

DM 1This is how to calculate the amount of salt and sugar (1/3 of the amount) needed:

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Then the meat is then rolled in the mix and placed in another batch where it will rest for a couple of weeks, stored in a fridge. During this time the meat will lose the water and by the end the meat will have lost between 30-50% of its weight.

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After the meat has rested a couple of weeks it is then turned so that the salt and spices are evenly distributed. In this picture is a piece of lard after two weeks. In this case the loss of water is inferior because the amount of fat is greater that in the beef pieces.

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Once the beef pieces (the part used is the thigh) have lost most of the water; it is then set to dry in one of these socks.

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Soon the pieces develop a non-toxic white mould (I used to think it was flour) and from there on there is still a little to wait before it is safe to eat the dried meat. Before sealing it a quick rinse is given to each piece. This is the end result.

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This is not only a butcher shop, it is also a place where people get together and while they buy their meat and they take the occasion to share a drink and have a chat. This is exactly what I did after the demonstration. Thank you Boris & Franco for the great moment!

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Cheesy Pictures From The Bern Cheese Festival

CFB 8 Continue reading

I went for a 24 hour trip made of pure good moments. On Friday we left and spent one night in Lucern before heading towards the Bern Cheese Festival. I was in such a good mood since in Lucern met up for dinner with a former boarding school mate of mine and his spouse. We shared a great moment and I know we have made new memories for the future. I absolutely wanted to make the most of this moment since the two live in Mexico and occasions, as you can imagine, are rare. In the end I did make the most of it and we went to bed it was basically four in the morning. With itchy eyes hidden behind sunglasses we left the hotel and headed towards Bern. During the journey, the only one getting rest was the one who needed it the least: my dog. At least the landscape wit the autumn colors was amazing. Once in Bern we left the car and walked towards the square where the cheese festival was being held.  I love walking in cities and Bern is a nice place to have your nose up in the air, directed towards the buildings. We got to the sqaure and soon we were surrounded by cheese stands from every corner of Switzerland. Although the surface reserved for the manifestation was relatively small, it was hard to keep track of which cheese stand we had tried and which not, especially because we went back and forth. Of course, among the selection, the most popular cheeses were present (Gruyere, Appenzeller, Emmental, Sbrinz, Vacherin) but there was so much more to discover. Among my favorites was a hard chilly cheese, one made with sheep’s milk and this three years old one (which I bought but did not get the name):

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Historically, because of the Swiss geographical landscape, it was difficult to grow enough crops to sustain one’s family so cheese was a good source of energy and it was something which could be stored during the colder months.This contributed to the growth in popularity of “Caseus Helveticus” as Pliny the elder called it. Here are a few pictures of my visit.

This is fondue made with beer instead of white wine

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The Monks selling the “Tête de Moine”:

 

CFB 1

 

Herb cheese:

CFB 2

 

The classic Emmentaler:

 

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And for lunch we went for a traditional raclette:

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In the end it was a nice moment and I have made a cheese supply for the next few weeks. If you are in the region, this is something where you can enjoy a few hours tasting and discovering local products. Supporting local products is something we should all do and enjoy.

Where: Bern, Waisenhausplatz.

When: 26th October 2013 from 09:00-17:00

For who: cheese lovers of all ages

 

My “Ticino Experience” Experience

T.E.7Last Wednesday I met up with my boyfriend to attend a local product tasting activity. It was during the time of the aperitif and it would be presented along with a mute comic film. Continue reading

When I found out where the event took place I was surprised ; it was a place we used to hang out at night a few years ago. Back then they used to have toilet seats as chairs and somewhere there must have been a bathtub too. Of course, the chairs had changed to suit today’s circumstances… We were welcomed by a very friendly woman, our/the hostess Claudia. While waiting for everyone to arrive she offered us some cured meats and bread. As the people progressively arrived I was happy to notice that half of the people we tourists and the other half were locals. I find this to be a good sign because it means the activity touches more categories of people. We sat down and after a short presentation we watched the introductory part of the mute film which set the ground for the main part of the story. Fidelio has a three starred restaurant in Spain. After a visit from a gastronomic critic he loses one. Now he is desperate to gain it back.Through a psychic St. Borromeo (a saint from the region)  tells Fidelio to travel to Ticino to gain back his lost inspiration.

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At the end of the first part we were invited to grab a plateau with a set of tasting items which we would put on our laps. At set times of the film we would be able to eat these delicacies.

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Each product was tied to a section of the story, and it was hard to stay back and wait for the right moment. Fortunately these moments came along quite fast. In the middle of the film, as I was watching I could hear a husband and wife speaking in our local dialect:

‘Oh look, that’s Lalo on the screen.’ The wife said.

‘Come on. I didn’t see but… wait. You’re right, it is Lalo.’

A few minutes later the wife spoke again:

‘And the monk the is Roberto.’

It amused me to hear them while I was munching away some of the local goat sausages called “Cicitt”. Apart from the sausages we tasted different cheeses, wines, one liquor (“nocino” which is the monk’s traditional liquor) and finally a sweet spread made with “Farina Bona” (in English it would translate as good flour). I just want to add a quick word about this type of flour which is made of toasted corn grains (basically popcorn) and which is a traditional product of the Onsernone Valley. It is a very versatile product and it can even be used to make “Farina Bona” ice cream (link: http://www.farinabona.ch/en/index.php).

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I really enjoyed my moment at “Ticino Experience” and my boyfriend (although it doesn’t look like in the picture) must have liked it too as he kept on repeating what a nice idea it was to have tried this activity out. Personally I found that the hour literally flew and would recommend it to anyone. I can say that I will surely return, especially when I have guests coming to visit.

T.E.8

PS: Sorry for the quality of the pictures,I only had my phone and found it hard to shoot in such low light… or perhaps it’s the photographer’s skills.

Where : La Rustica (Albergo Losone), Losone, Ticino, Switzerland.

When : March-October / Mon-Thu 18:00, Fri-Sat 17:00 / Lasts about an hour

For who: Adults and kids, locals and tourists. If wish to have an overview of the region (because there are nice shots of the landscape too) or you already know it but wish do something different, this is for you.

Link : http://www.ticinoexperience.ch