Saturday, February 5, 2011

Swiss Surprise

Flying from Zurich to Brussels (business class again) we were served a little “snack.” As you can see, it had a German look with the roast beef, German potato salad and dill pickle, along with the cheeses. Over there on the left with the cheese is a jam that I though was apricot. Every time I’ve been served bread and cheese, there’s been apricot jam. I put a large dollop on my brie and bread and was I ever surprised. HORSERADISH!!!  Who puts horseradish in jam???!!! Apparently Germans do. My host colleague who is German (living in Switzerland) later told me this is orange marmalade with horseradish and it’s not something she eats. I expected the horseradish in the potato salad, but not the jam.

Our first night in Zug, my destination just outside Zurich, I asked my colleague to suggest something on the dinner menu that is traditionally Swiss. Although it was a seafood restaurant, she suggested the rösti. This is a large pancake made of shredded potatoes, vegetables and cheese served here on a bed of spinach salad with pine nuts. It was good, but a little greasy for my taste. We were served several amuse bouches probably because our dinner took forever to arrive, but I have no idea what they were. One was a very rich cheese, drizzled with an even richer, sweet, yet salty sauce. The server literally whispered in my ear “the secret of Pavorotti’s golden voice” before he swiftly disappeared once again.

The following night I dined alone at my hotel and had a frustrating, but amusing (and again very slow) dinner of a cheese plate because the waiter couldn’t understand that he was only bringing me the dessert menu.

On the way to Brussels for another meeting, my host colleague suggested we purchase a box of these macaroons at the airport to take with us for the staff  at the Beerse office. They are quite a treat in Zurich and have become sort of the symbol of the city according to the literature that came with them. Confiserie Sprüngli that makes them is 175 years old. The macaroons* are called Luxemburgerli because they were introduced to the company 50 years ago by a young pastry chef from Luxembourg. They are so delicate, it is recommended they be eaten within a day.

The Luxemburgerli were well received in Beerse. No one there had tried them before. I had one each of hazelnut, lemon and chocolate. The cookie was light, delicate and crisp and the filling was rich and creamy. I should point out that there were two layers and I did not eat most of what I bought. But they disappeared quickly with the chocolate receiving the highest accolades from most everyone. It’s too bad they are so delicate that I couldn’t bring some back to my coworkers at home. They’ll have to settle for Belgian chocolates.

*I'm a little confused by the terminology. I thought these were macarons in French and that macaroons are  coconut cookies. But they call these macaroons. Whatever - they were lovely!

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