The Real Picky Gourmet’s archnemesis, the dining pages of the Tagesanzeiger (second largest newspaper in Switzerland), has just published some facts about their dining section over the past year. In terms of volume the hundred plus restaurant visited by the Tagesanzeiger are matched by your favourite food blog writer. Apart from slightly more than 100 published articles on therealpickygourmet.com, another 80 distinct restaurants were visited, not counting all the repeat visits in a non official manner. Cities this year included among others Carouge, Tokyo, Istanbul, Zurich, Bern, Schaffhausen and Chisinau. On an average the Real Picky Gourmet comes to 4.8 restaurant visits per week. If every of these visits were to a new restaurant in the city of Zurich, after roughly 6 years all Zurich’s restaurant would have been reviewed. Now you ask yourself – who really is the hardest dining man in Zurich ?
Other statistic show that the most sought after article this year was the one about the Ethiopian restaurant Abyssinia. This is surprising, since it’s a relatively unknown place on a small side street in Wiedikon. Runnersup were the Eisenhof and the Hermannseck.
Further analysis showed that 3 kgs of not so lean body mass were added to the Real Picky Gourmet. Putting it into a financial perspective, what can be safely said is that the average swiss household spends six percent on dining out, yours truly spends slightly more. To quantify that and pick up on the structural, bodily changes mentioned earlier, the equivalent of a Class A pair of silicone boobs plus a new nose was spent on food.
My new favorite foodblog with the most beautiful pictures ever – www.gastroville.com.
The favourite place blogged about in 2009 was by far the Hotel Terminus.
And just in case you wondered – no one has ever decided to send me to a restaurant of his or her choosing, the coverage must be too good already.
Anything with Moevenpick written on it, is not necessarily something to get excited about. So some apprehension was apparent before walking into the Beef Club. The atmosphere is sedated with rich carpets giving it a true powerhouse feeling. Even though the interior is updated, clearly conceptually nothing has happened here in the last 30 years. It is a solid refuge for meat eaters, devoid of new age vegans or similar clientele. The nice touch is the cart at lunch, which serves roast beef and rib in different sizes. Main course was a gentlemen’s size of roast beef accompanied with pasta and a side of bernaise. It is very commendable, that the side orders of sauce are served in a nice big sauciere and not in a skimpy cup. Any sauce lover will be happy. The meat was perfectly cooked, the sauce bernaise had a nice tarragon flavor and went nicely with the meat and brioche like bread. If your looking for a place to discuss business over a bottle of wine and are not into fancy schmancy nouvelle cuisine, this is what you’re looking for.
Ever heard of a working german food concept ? Vapiano is one. Surprising to see the Germans actually successfully making italian food. An italian friend once told me that when the german engineers started analyzing water pressures, temperatures, flow rates… of espresso machines, suddenly decent coffee started appearing in Germany. So with the same seriousness and determination Vapiano was created as a franchise system. To cut to the chase, the food is surprisingly good. You get in line at the pasta station, pick your type of pasta (roughly 10 varieties) and choose a sauce. My choice was a Granchi di Fiume (River lobster) with linguine. The gentleman at the pasta station asked me wether I wanted chili with that and I was so stupid to say yes. The pasta was good, the sauce nice, the only thing which wasn’t good was the heat of the chili which overpowered the subtle crustacean taste. If this is where fast food is moving, fresh ingredients, nicely prepared at decent prices (keep in mind that you get a plate of pasta for the same price as a large Whopper menu with Onion rings) then the future is looking good.
A reader demanded to see what the real picky gourmet cooks at home. Being male and also blessed with a naturally high level of testosterone, competition is something which is automatically taken very seriously. Taking a day off to shop and cook, after numerous nights at a bar of figuring out the menu, was needed to come up with the ingredients for a dinner to impress. The menu included European Crayfish. Now looking for only the freshest ingredients, implies buying them alive and cooking them yourself. Obtaining these in Zurich proved a bit tricky, some of the so called finer fishmongers couldn’t do it (eg http://www.der-frisch-fisch.ch/), but finally Globus proved to be worth the money. The tension level rose in the kitchen, after removing the lid off the box, the sedated crayfish regained conscience and started squirming like crazy in the box. It felt like being the Sorcerer’s apprentice and only with great will power was it possible to restore order by separating the very active crayfish from each other, virtually prying them apart. The first dish was Saibling fish on pea mousse with fish supreme and some trout caviar. The next dish was Crayfish ravioli with chanterelles in a light crayfish broth. Both dishes were taken out of a magazine called Gourmetreise and a letter of recommendation was sent to the Editor in chief. Seldomly have I seen such sloppy recipes (eg I made a fish farce for one of the dishes, which was on the ingredients list, but was never actually mentioned in the recipe again) demanding such complicated and complex plating techniques. But the worst part was, that a fall magazine is actually using things like peas which are just about 6 months out of season. Up next was a scallop on a brioche toast, served with a serran ham chip and a light hollandaise. The piece de resistance was a foie gras creme brulee (and there Globus is nuts by charging an obscene 560 CHF / kg), served with some fresh tarragon. The dessert course was a home made chocolate Luxemburgerli (Swiss version of a Macaron) and Fior di Latte Ice Cream. Now how did I do ? My plating technique and skill is about as refined as that of a prison inmate slopping mashed potatoes onto his other colleagues tray/plate combination. In terms of taste I did okay, while not measuring up to be part of the Bocuse d’Or, it was advanced home cooking. What I really liked about the menu, was that it had a nice progression, clean flavours and the foie gras creme brulee was a great way of moving from the savoury to the sweet part of the menu. The thing I learned – if you add up the cost of the raw materials, add the 15 hours of work spent cooking, cleaning and shopping, only a few restaurants in Zurich are more expensive than dining at the real picky gourmet’s home. The ingredients alone weighed in at roughly 400 CHF.
In Istanbul a taxi is needed to take you to Emirgana, to the Muezde Changa. The place is simply stunning, it’s a very sleek museum located on a slope overseeing the Bosphorus. At the top of the museum, the restaurant presents itself with a nice terrace. The main Changa restaurant is an award winning place, and if you’ve entered the location of the sister place in Emirgana your level of expectation has just shot through the roof. After dark things get interesting since there is only minimal outside lighting. Together with the menu each guest receives a stylish flashlight to help navigate through the dishes in the dark. First up were some sea beans on a fava bean purée, nice how the saltyness played with the smoothness of the purée. The Changa Sucuk is a play on a spicy local sausage, while taste is nice, it is a rather rustic dish. To finish a classic Koefte was served, and unlike most other lamb dishes in Turkey, the lamb wasn’t completely overpowering. Dessert was a pear with some cotton candy on top. Overall Muezede Changa is a stunning place with solid food, the location alone is worth a visit.
Some writers position Turkey as the third most important cuisine, after French and Chinese, so Istanbul sounded like the place to find out. The fun thing is reading a coward’s Lonely Planet article about not to eat mussels stuffed with rice on the streets, because the Sultan’s revenge aka diharrea will follow right away. Even more fun is buying afore mentioned snack, handing them to your friends and looking at their faces once you quote from said article. Anyway the story was greatly exaggerated, nothing happen to anyone. Looking for a “good” restaurant in a foreign city can be a bit of a lottery, luckily a gentleman on the airplane gave me some pointers. The Kosebasi seemed like a safe bet. The Turks all dress to impress, so it can pay to bring some business casual clothes next to your tourist wear. Kosebasi has a good vibe and is probably a favourite with the more affluent people of Istanbul. Starters was a mix of Lamacun (turkish pizza), pida and pita bread, mains were mixed meats with different sauces, some taboule and vegetables. Turkish is strong in flavours, has a nice variety and a good balance of meats, vegetables and starches. The quality of the inidvidual dishes at Kosebasi was high, the impression is that if you want to go for a nice dinner, you can’t go wrong here. It’s solid but with a bit of more time, I’m sure you can find a more exciting place. A bit overstretching the limit is the quote on the website stating that it’s one of the Top 50 restaurants in the world.