Before coronavirus was unleashed, I was on holidays in Switzerland, where we have family. It is frightening to think how much has altered in such a short time. The gang skied into blissful fatigue. I ate cheese. The alpine beauty was expected, but still took my breath away.
I took the Bernina reveal from Davos through chiselled mountain passes. I felt like I was in a Fellini film. The maroon livery of the train set against the snow like a little kid’s dream. It wound its way approximately the sky, stopping by a glacier where we got off at a chocolate-box station. I remained in the middle of my really own snow world.
Our descent trundled towards Italy
It wasn’t long prior to we boarded again, and the sky had opened to a yet more spectacular blue. It was as if the train was only teasing us on the outgoing journey.
Everything works in Switzerland.
We consumed wonderful food, created for individuals who have actually spent all the time snowboarding or hiking. I have actually never ever witnessed a more outdoorsy lot.
Rostis are ubiquitous in Switzerland and extremely pleasing too. I’m integrating mine with the breakfast I had every morning in the hotel, fragments of crisp bacon, honeycomb (use any honey, that’s all right) and young velvety goat’s cheese. Don’t judge me, I was front loading.
Fondue is the supreme home cooking. It’s simple and a bit theatrical. I was blown away one evening in an unique cheese bubble on the terrace of our hotel. It resembled eating your supper in a deliciously smelly glasshouse. As we consumed, we watched the snowploughs clinging perilously to the slopes, their lights twinkling in the darkness. The most memorable meals are often about time and place.
To relieve the guilt, I had Bircher muesli one day. It’s as close as I’ll ever get to being a hunky Swiss ski trainer.
ROSTI POTATOES, CRISP BACON, HONEY, SOFT GOAT’S CHEESE
3 big Maris Piper potatoes (400 g), peeled and coarsely grated
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
A couple of leaves of picked thyme
Salt and pepper
50 ml sunflower oil
12 rashers smoked streaky bacon
4 tablespoon comb honey (runny honey will do)
100 g mild creamy goat’s cheese (for instance St Tola)
1 Squeeze any excess water out of the grated potatoes and add the egg, flour, baking powder, thyme, salt and pepper.
2 Cook the bacon on a tray until extremely crisp, then set aside, keeping any bacon fat to prepare the rostis in.
3 Divide the potatoes into 4 and flatten into circular shapes.
4 Fry over a medium heat in a non-stick pan with the oil and bacon fat.
5 To serve, smear the goat’s cheese over the top of the rosti, add the honey and top with the bacon.
AN IRISH FONDUE
2 bunches asparagus
225 g Crozier Blue cheese– or another soft blue cheese
75 ml cream
75 ml excellent quality apple juice
1 small ciabatta loaf, torn into portions, drizzled with a little olive oil and roasted until golden and crispy
1 Trim one 3rd from the base of the asparagus, the woody bit.
2 Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, include the asparagus to the water and cook for about two minutes– but this completely depends on the thickness of the asparagus. It requires to be still a little crisp.
3 When prepared, plunge the asparagus into iced water.
4 Take a good-looking little pot (you will be eating from this), or if you have a fondue pot use that.
5 Crumble in the cheese, then include the cream and apple juice.
6 Warm through till carefully bubbling, stirring now and again.
7 Serve in the centre of a plate with the asparagus and roasted bread set up around. Dip and dredge to your heart’s content.
BIRCHER MUESLI WITH HOT BLUEBERRIES
200 g Flahavan’s porridge oats
375 ml great quality apple juice
2 apples, peeled and grated
125 g plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoon of your favourite nuts, approximately chopped
1 small punnet blueberries
1 Mix all of the active ingredients except the blueberries in a bowl and leave covered overnight in the refrigerator.
2 When prepared to serve, heat the blueberries in a microwave for one minute, up until they burst and release their juices.
3 Serve the muesli in bowls and put the hot blueberries over the top.