Swiss Food Festival at the Intercontinental Eros, Nehru Place

[Rating:4.5/5] Cheese lovers rejoice. Then again, perhaps everyone who likes European food should cheer up. There’s a Swiss Food Festival on at the Intercontinental Eros and it’s all so sinfully delicious, you’ll probably want to have a go at every dish on offer before going in for seconds.

Setting up a food festival is quite easy for most. First dream up a cuisine, then locate suitable photos and recipes. Send it to the Chefs who find local substitutes for hard to find ingredients and lastly, cook and serve. I’ve seen some Punjabi food festivals where they serve exotic dishes like Dal Makhani, Butter Chicken and Pindi Chole. How convenient.

[nggallery id=56]

Intercontinental Eros on the other hand seems to have chosen the tough route. They’ve enlisted the services of Swiss Chefs, then imported the cheeses, meats and other ingredients from Switzerland, designed daily changing menus, invited the Swiss Ambassador to testify to the authenticity of it all and finally opened up the feast to all and sundry. Sheesh! Why doesn’t anyone tell these guys there are easier ways of doing things? I mean, going by sources in the hotel industry, importing weapons is easier than getting Swiss cheese into the country not to mention coordinating with the Swiss embassy for visas and the airlines for freight.

Anyhow, I’m not complaining, not with food like that on the table.

Swiss cuisine not only includes unique Swiss specialities, but also many dishes that are a result of French, German and Italian influences. Due to it’s long history of farming, most Swiss specialities include potatoes and cheese in dishes such as Raclette and Rösti. Chocolate is also a Swiss speciality.

We made a beeline for the Raclette the moment the buffet was declared open and the Fondue soon after. Both were delicious. Have you tried grilling your cheese? I recall a time I was cooped up in a one room apartment with nothing to cook with and only had an electric heater for company. Though tinned cheese and bread were all the provisions at hand, I soon learnt how delicious toasted cheese can be. That the electric heater could never be used again is quite another story. Raclette is essentially cheese that’s melted in front of a fire traditionally or using a special heater these days, scraped onto a plate and accompanied by potatoes, pickled vegetables and an assortment of meats like prosciutto. Equally good was the Fondue, which was a mixture of three cheeses – Swiss Gruyere, Emmenthal and Vacheron, accompanied by little chunks of bread to be dipped into the cheese mixture and eaten. If cheese is your thing, this dish is for you.

Traditionally, if one loses the bread within the cheese mixture, there’s a penalty applied. A woman must kiss the first man to her left and a man must buy a bottle of wine for the company. It’s also considered bad form to allow ones lips or tongue to touch the dipping fork. Double dipping also is a no-no, i.e. re-dipping a bitten morsel into the cheese.

The Rösti was a little disappointing, as it wasn’t fully crisped, but then looking at the number of diners assaulting the ever busy Chefs at the Rösti station, expecting a crisp Rösti would be a little impractical, considering the time it would have taken. Made with shredded potatoes, usually shaped in the pan and shallow fried until crisp, Rösti can also be topped with bacon, onions and cheese among other accompaniments.

Some other dishes I particularly liked were the seared Salmon in white wine sauce and the sauted duck in red wine with apples. Both were excellent! Here’s the other stuff I sampled. I’ll run out of superlatives if I attempt to describe them – you really must try the Swiss buffet for yourself.

Artichoke salad, Chicken sausage emmenthal cheese salad, Prawn and avacado salad, Nut laced Red cabbage salad, Fresh Smoked fish, Roasted pumpkin and caramalised chestnut salad, Selection of sliced Swiss Mountain ham and cold meats, Basel style flour soup, Luzern style lobster, Lamb ragout, Penne pasta gratin, Smashed chunky potatoes, Butter glazed steam vegetables,  Desserts: Linzertorte, MontBlanc, Baked Cheesecake, Swiss Chocolate mousse, Apple Strudel, Chocoloate Fondue Mini cakes, Strawberries, marshmallows.

… and this is in addition to the regular Blooms buffet, which includes unlimited French white or red wine, Budweiser or soft beverages so that’s quite a mouthful on the table there. It is a little steep at 2,100 but well worth the price I think, considering the authenticity of the ingredients and the array of food and drink.

You will do drop by and let us know how the meal turned out, won’t you?

– Sid

Swiss Gruyere, Emmenthal and Vacheron Cheese

Sid Khullar

Sid Khullar is the founder of Chef at Large, a blog that began in 2007. He enjoys cooking, writing, travelling and technology in addition to being a practising Freemason. Health and wellness is a particularly passionate focus. Sid prefers the company of food and animals to most humans, and can be reached at sid.khullar@chefatlarge.in.