Friday, November 19, 2010

Restaurant Review: Hiltl, Zurich, Switzerland

On a recent trip to Switzerland we stopped off for lunch at Hiltl. It is a well established vegetarian restaurant, most famous for it's buffet. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, they also offer an à la carte menu, but I was there for the buffet! It is quite a large restaurant over two floors, with a quirky mixed decor of old Swiss wooden furniture and other more random items (I saw a fur covered armchair- I hope it was fake!). The buffet has a wide choice of vegetarian food, from salads to curries to pastas etc. You help yourself then weigh your plate at the end, and pay per 100g of food. 100g of food may sound a lot, but the food is so nice and there are so many different things to try, that the plate soon fills up!

They also make freshly squeezed fruit juices and tonics. I had a fresh lemongrass and ginger infusion. The desserts looked delicious but unfortunately we were quite full up at this point... and had planned to walk around Zurich in the afternoon, so decided that we had probably eaten more than enough for a lunch.
I didn't get to have a proper look at them, but Hiltl have published several vegetarian cookbooks. I believe they are also available in english.
Worth a visit if you are in Zurich!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ingredient: Smoked Paprika

Thanks to my time spent working in Barcelona, I have a good stock of smoked paprika at home. It can be hard to find in the UK and is usually very overpriced. Smoked paprika, or 'pimentón ahumado', comes from the 'La Vera' region of Spain, and has Protected Designation of Origin status. Red paprika peppers are oak-smoked for 2 weeks as they dry and are then ground to a powder. Intensities vary from mild ('dulce') to very hot. Thanks to it's strong, smoky, flavour, and wonderful colour, pimentón ahumado is the spice used for chorizo.

As a vegetarian, I do not eat chorizo, but I use smoked paprika often in dishes, especially at this time of year- Bonfire season. It has become an essential ingredient for vegetarian chilli 'sin' carne for example. It can also be used to make spicy potato wedges, or in soups. The most popular brand is La Chinata: there are also some recipes on this page.

Recipe: Spicy-Smoky Carrot and Bean Soup


-1 onion, chopped
-4 carrots, diced
-1 clove garlic, chopped
-1 tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
-1/2 tin chopped tomatoes
-1 tsp marmite/ 1 stock cube
-1 tsp smoked paprika
-salt, pepper

1. Gently fry the onion and carrots for 5 minutes.
2. Add all of the rest of the ingredients apart from the kidney beans, and cover with boiling water. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the carrots are soft.
3. Purée the soup in a food processor/ with a hand mixer. Return to the saucepan then stir through the kidney beans.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cheese of the Month: Gruyère A.O.C.

The origins of the cheese name Gruyere dates back to 1655 when gruyère depicted the district of the canton of Fribourg in Switzerland where the cheese is made. Gruyere is a picturesque area in the alpine foothills with lush pastures which surround the lovely village of Gruyères, a Medieval market place.

The regions of production are: The cantons of Fribourg, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Jura, the districts of Courtelary, La Neuveville, Moutier and
several bordering villages in the canton of Bern.

Made from cow's milk, the cheese is matured for five months for mild Gruyère; eight months for semi-salty (the most in demand and the most sold); about ten months for the salty variety and at least twelve months for prime-quality Gruyère.

Shape and appearance: The cheese is in the shape of a millstone, with a washed
and brushed, grainy, uniformly brownish and healthy rind-like crust. The heel is slightly convex.
Height: 9.5 - 12 cm, Alpage: 9 - 11cm

Diameter: 55 - 65 cm, Alpage: 50 - 65 cm
Weight: 25 - 40 kg (average 35 kg), Alpage: 20 - 35 kg (average 25 kg)

The cheese is smooth to the touch with a slightly damp feel. It is soft, reasonably firm and not very crumbly. Its even ivory colouring varies according to t
he season. The dominant fruity and nutty flavours can vary in taste according to the region of origin.

You can use Gruyère as an alternative to cheddar in any dish. It is also the perfect cheese for fondues.

Recipe: Fondue with half & half Gruyère AOC and Vacherin


1 clove of garlic, cut into two
400 g grated or thin slices of
Gruyère AOC cheese
4 teaspoons of corn flour
350 ml white wine
400 g Vacherin Fribourgeois
cheese, cut into small dice
1 small glass of kirsch
Pinch of Cayenne pepper


Rub the fondue dish with the clove of garlic. Leave in pot If desired.
Mix the Gruyère AOC, the Vacherin Fribourgeois and the corn flour together in the fondue dish, add the white wine and bring to the boil while stirring continuously until the cheese has melted.
Add the kirsch and the Cayenne pepper.
Keep the fondue dish warm on the burner over a very low flame.