Monday, 24 September 2007

Deutschland und die Schweiz

Our recent trip to Germany and Switzerland was a welcome chance to re-visit the cuisine of a land often over-looked as being all sausage and fondue, no substance.

The real local market (affordable, shopable, friendly and without 29 different varieties of aged balsamic vinegar or hemp lavender pillows) lives on in Germany. We visited Kaiserslautern's "markt" on a particularly bountiful day in late August. The vendors are professionals who travel from market to market, a different town each day of the week, but who source the majority of their produce, cheese and meat from local growers and makers. The food is fantastic and lacks only pretension.

"Ringing fields cheese" - fresh cheese with wild garlic (aka ramps)

Blackberries from Donnersberg, a local village

Appropriately knobbly celeriac from the region, with greens

Peachy dahlias

"Own produce"

Just when I thought I was getting to know German cuisine I was caught by surprise by the most gorgeous, pillowy mound of yeasted dough with a crisp, buttery underbelly; The dampfnudel. They are panfried and steamed at the same time, much like potstickers. They were being served with vanilla custard, which I should have tried...

Recently I've started to warm to aspic, and that's something I never thought I would say. I love the refined sensibility of these open-faced sandwiches from Confiserie Sprungli in Zurich. The Swiss Fortnum and Mason's trademark is the Luxemburgerli, a puffy, lighter version of the French Macaron. Though I am still dedicated to Laduree's gorgeous sandwiched meringues, Luxemburgli are just as gorgeous and are delicious too.

We were very unlucky to come upon the food emporium H. Schwarzenbach (Munstergasse 19) on a Sunday afternoon when they were most definitely closed. Considering we had just come from Sprungli, that was probably a good thing since we didn't need to eat anything more, but it's definitely on my to do list for my next visit to Zurich. I wouldn't mind having a peek in the flats above either, with such fabulous doorbells they must be beautiful.

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