Just prior to our first trip to Geneva, I completed my first ever Whole30 so upon de-planing in the land of cheese and chocolate – I was ready to roll.
Each day’s breakfast included buttery croissants and espresso – and everyone eats this everyday! If that wasn’t enough, my husband celebrated his 30th birthday on our second day, and we decided to go full on traditional for our first dinner in the city. Our hotel, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, recommended a restaurant in Old Town at a 17th century hotel, Hôtel Les Armures.
This is not and will never be a political blog – but it’s really worth mentioning that the Clintons visited in the 90’s.
We were rookies, so went crazy and ordered both raclette AND fondue (and a side salad, #balance.) We later learned that is a real no-go. But what’s the difference between these cheesy treats?
If you have been to Melting Pot restaurant in the U.S. or a home with a fad-focused entertainer (I belong to this group – no hate!) – you have likely dunked bread in cheese or marshmallows in a chocolate fondue pot with fire lit underneath the pot to keep it warm. Much like the states, it is served with bread and boiled potatoes for dipping. The fire remaining lit is important – the pot must be warm enough to keep the fondue smooth and liquid, but not so hot that it burns. At the proper temperature, there will be a thin crust of toasted (not burnt) cheese at the bottom called la religieuse (French for “the nun.”) So, it is one of the rare times I can mean it when I say a meal is a religious experience.
The nun can be lifted out and eaten – or if you are like the Fords, scraped out nearly with your bare hands before the waitress has the opportunity to come over and help you.
And raclette? Served commonly with tiny pickles (often called gherkins) potatoes, and pickled onions – it is essentially a slab of melted gooey cheese. One heats the cheese on a machine (usually a wheel) and scrapes off the melted part for serving. It’s name comes from the French verb racler (to scrape) and it is fabulous. So much so, that I have no photo of my own.
You must be wondering – what did we wash this all down with? Naturally draft beer …
and also – “Swiss Wine: The Best Wine You’ve Never Tasted” – I learned from this article that less than 2% of Swiss wine is exported, and its prime markets are neighboring Belgium and Germany. And the Swiss love their wine!
One of the local celebrations I am most excited about in the spring is called “Open Cellars” (in French, Caves Ouvertes) for CHF 20 (twenty Swiss francs, at least currently quite close to the American dollar) you can take a shuttle bus and travel through 300+ wine cellars. You even get a souvenir glass. No brainer.
And for dessert? Les Amures very kindly showered us with a birthday treat that actually sparkled.
And after already welcoming us very sweetly with a “welcome chocolates” box from Philippe Pascoët ,
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix even sent up a birthday treat – chocolate that read “Joyeux Anniversaire” – French for “Happy Birthday” of course.