Detox at Chenot Palace on splendid Swiss lake

What a gorgeous tranquil location to detox and rejuvenate the aching, ageing body. Chenot Palace Weggis is the first wellness outpost in Switzerland of the well-established health retreat founded by the late Henri Chenot. From a hospital setting in Côte d’Azur the Chenot Method® was luxuriously upgraded at the Swiss Palace. The group also collaborates with fine hotels that adopted his eastern – through millennia tested experience – meets western science approach to physical and mental health restoration.

Vierwaldstatter lake near Luzern in Switzerland

Weggis, a Swiss village under the foot of the spiritually and wellness oriented Mount Rigi, nests on the shores of the Vierwaldstättersee, literally ‘Lake of the four forested settlements‘ near Luzern. Mark Twain, an avid traveler as I have encountered his traces already on the remote Bermudas, was particularly fond of this area known in English as Lake Lucerne. Conveniently, in the German speaking part of Switzerland, just under an hour car ride from Zurich, a train and bus or taxi hop from the city of Luzern, and about three hours from Geneva, you are transported into a calm zone in a stunning natural setting. The staff speaks fluent English. Greek, Italian, Czech, Polish, Portuguese, Russian or French are also widely spoken by the staff coming from all over Europe for the prestigious highly paid job. The best quality of therapists are attracted to the by healthy lifestyle driven Chenot Palace in Weggis.

Vierwaldstatter lake near Luzern in Switzerland

Time for oneself is the most precious mental activity as well as joy that can reset the body into equilibrium. A walk in solitude, a swim in an open water, an afternoon with a great book, a trip away from it all when imagination is freely strolling. More profoundly, a yoga retreat or a rejuvenating spa cure will shine the gems of our being. When a higher awareness of who I am and what I need and want to do unveil like a lustrous lake in a receding morning mist, I feel complete and the calmed body shows.

The golden sunshine hours, grass sprouting in verdant carpets of energy, birds in frolicking songs and budding trees, all nature in a seasonal unison announces that for us indulgent humans it is time for a spring detox. The lent period introduces warmer weather, and as nature awakens from winter rest, the couch-bound body calls for a reset in an invigorating environment. But also whenever your health needs, like after a bad food poisoning or a surgery, to recover smoothly, it is beneficial to take a break.

Swiss spa

detox in Switzerland

The Chenot Method® of detoxification incorporates millennia old eastern methods such as TCM system of meridians, European hydro and mud therapy, with the newest nutritional and technology-based science to reset the overworked body and the mind. You need to dedicate time for this and the Chenot Palace Weggis requires a minimum stay of seven nights.

While the paths of your meridians and lymphatic pathways are cleaned through daily energetic treatments, the toxin-burdened body shrinks away with each aromatherapeutic bath, signature mud wrap and jet shower. Three times per week a water exercise in the pool strengthens, and any water stuck in the accumulation areas is cleared away. I recommend adding a lymphatic facial that will redefine your puffed up contours within an hour. So much water is retained in our chin, under the eyes and the sides of your face. The suction cups effectively channel out this undesired accumulation, like deflating a balloon.

luxury bedroom for detox

The Chenot Palace in Weggis opened in 2020. In the pandemic years, not as strictly lockdown in Switzerland, most staff from other Chenot locations like Greece and Italy moved here, meaning that they have plenty of expertise in practicing the method. Completely renovated indoors, the two contemporary and two turret Swiss style buildings were accompanied by a state of the art extensive spa and medical area. The well-maintained Japanese gardens are a treat for the eyes even in winter as the giant bonsais gracefully welcome at the entrance and the waiting lounge in the medical wing.

On bad weather days, the cosy library lounge pamper healthily with non-alcoholic cocktails. The guests’ favourite is the Italian spritz (made with Lyre, low calorie tonic, sparkling water and a slice of dried orange), but I also like the refreshing, not sweet virgin mojito, and the Zero gin and tonic with a cucumber slice and a selection of Chenot low caffeine teas, plus herbal tisanes. The view over the lake from there lures you in even on a sunny day. There are plenty of art and design books to leaf through.

Walks from Chenot Palace in Weggis, Switzerlandlake Lucerne

Petit Palace is the oldest building close to the quiet lake rim road. The new wing above the reception can offer some partial lake views, but these mostly face the town and the Mount Rigi. More popular seems the new wing above the spa, but while it has closer lake and Weggis views with some interfering trees it is not as pure as the older buildings offer. The highest floors offer most open views reaching towards the glacier Alps. My room was on the fifth floor in the old larger building practically above the restaurant (I love it since it was further from the road offering vast open lake views). A comfortable sofa, a desk upon request, quality materials and bed quality, a tantalising pillow menu increase comfort. There is enough room for your private yoga or stretching practice. A bluetooth speaker to use for a preferred music library on my phone (when I took it with me since my second stay I further decided to detox from my portable tech devices) comforted my resting moments in the room.

Top floors only have smaller rooms. Contemporary, comfortable and luxurious naturally hued interior design was set the same for all the rooms. The doubles have an extra chair by the table. In the minibar all you find is an assortment of European waters. The high altitude Swiss Valser spring water is replenished daily complimentary, but it is also available in the waiting lounges. The new building rooms have larger bathrooms and the rooms in the same category, but the views are interrupted by other buildings as it’s at the back behind the old buildings. Tasteful, jolly art graces the walls all over the five starred Palace.

Art at Chenot PalaceBest detox in Switzerland

Detox plant-based, hypo-caloric menu at Chenot Palace

The diet at Chenot Palace in Weggis is very strict, but mostly very tasty. The plant-based daily menu comes daily in seven plates. The fasting-mimicking, fibre-rich, whole foods Chenot diet is based on organic seasonal vegetables when possible grown locally. A tiny fruit-centric breakfast with herbal infusion or caffeine-free coffee alternative like roasted chicory root (can be with a side of plant milk) starts you without physically breaking the fast yet. A simple fruit salad or an apple, pear or strawberry purée topped with berries, lemongrass or other herbs, a coconut milk flan with berries, a stewed apple topped with fresh whole berries and physalis were all nice but not filling much.

You can have barley coffee alternative if gluten is no concern to you (less strong, less coffee taste than the chicory, but more foaming in an espresso). Almond milk is recommended but the tastiest is oat (Oatly isn’t allowed because of some kidney aggravating additives). Soy is also available. An optional cinnamon to dust over lowers you sugar cravings. No caffeine is best for detox as are minimum stimulation (the omnipresent smart phones in the hands of most guests are rather shameful) and rest plenty.

Caffeine-free coffee replacementsfasting-mimicking diet

The low-density calorie, low sodium and high on water diet is in synergy with the daily treatments. It is minimally processed, alkaline-leaning concoction of seasonal ingredients of the highest quality, truffles and saffron pop up on certain luxurious plates. The local sourcing is unfortunately limiting the chef’s expression, but his Italian origin sensitised him to an elegant flavour balancing. While most dishes are sublime, one can hardly rely on the Swiss terroir short in sunshine seasons. The presentation of a fine dining restaurant sparks up your detox days.

Lunch can be raw foods, while dinner is always a gently cooked trio of a small vegetable starter, a wholesome plant-based soup and a tasty, usually vegetable-centric main course. dairy-free alternatives are made in-house, except for the tofu, which is delightfully smoked though by the kitchen team. A gentle use of spices and herbs compensate taste for low sodium and protein diet. Taste-wise, I didn’t miss the salt in most dishes. An additional trio set of cumin, curry, red cayenne (not very spicy) pepper can be added to your three course lunch upon request. I had also salt because of my low blood pressure.

At dinner a herb of the day (rosemary, thyme) is served with the middle course of warm vegetable puréed soup. In spring we had fresh black truffle shaved atop the Jerusalem artichoke cream, in autumn Piedmont hazelnut crisps topped the sublime topinambur puree. All soups with the additional herbs, mushrooms or cooked veggies toppings were excellent.

If you wake up hungry and cannot sleep, ask for a thermos with a fragrant hot broth. I love the more intense mushroom over the ginger and lemongrass option, but on some days it’s brewed weaker and then I prefer the later. They alternate each day on the communal tea and water counter from 2pm onwards.

the chef is savvy in using lightening methods such as almond-based mousse with less calories than the firm nut, also delightful was the fresh almond tzatziki. The diet is low on protein because building is the opposite of detox for the body, so plant-based low glycemic carbs and healthy fat consist together with the fibre and water most of the menu. The chef published a beautiful, for home use practical cookbook in five languages, also available in English.

My favourite plates were:

Coconut cream with berries and chia pudding

Almond pudding, mandarin coulis, lemongrass

Chia and avocado mousse

Almond tzatziki, cucumbers and light chickpea crisps

Hazelnut plant ‘cheese’ stuffed zucchini flower with vanilla coulis

Topinambur cream pasta with dried black olive crumble

Vegan egg beetroot tartare

Celery root cream soup

Black truffle topped green cabbage and shallot cream soup

Food is mostly delightful with some exceptions such as too dry-textured pasta (the rice cannelloni for GF). The rice tagliatelle with pumpkin sauce and hazelnuts that were too dry, but the autumn version with tJerusalem artichoke cream was sublime! A mushy texture of sweet potato cubes with green peas (called Dodo after a game) was so so, as were the starchy textured pumpkin gnocchi. Also the wonton pasta were too stiff to cut and I didn’t like the béchamel. The chef keeps improving though and an absolute hat down for working wonders with such a limited ingredients list. Considering that one consumes seven plates each day that’s a talent speaking through his overall achievement.

The Sicilian chef dares to combine unseeable ingredients like raspberry powder over zucchini velouté. He worked at a vegan restaurant before. The challenge is heightened by using seasonal, most local vegetables and not fermentation. I was told that the best season for ingredients here is spring from April-July.

booze-free alternativesHealthy diningdetox tea

Most advanced diagnostic, performance and wellness equipment for holistic health at Chenot Palace Weggis

You are meant to rest, not build muscle and strength much because the detox diet contains minimum proteins. A full medical staff is to assist you, and two doctor appointments are scheduled in each program and so is a consultation with a certified nutritionist. Superb hydro therapy, mud wraps (mint fresh along the inner arms and tights) on a hot floating bed and a jet shower are included in all programs for the first six days.

The optional Cryo (-110°C!) trend is not for me. I noticed that particularly the male guests fancied freezing in the enclosed well below freezing cabins. You saw them wearing warm hats while in their bath robes at lunch. For someone with low blood pressure and other health conditions, the so called Wimhof method can be dangerous. I much preferred the inflammation and pain reducing photo-biomodulation under led lights emitting specific red light wavelengths.

My cardiovascular health was assessed and arteries were inspected for functionality. The report showed my arteries were in the shape of a decade younger person. I was elated, but the doctor cautioned my joy since this is just compared to an average person.

Bone density and the thickness of skin and the distribution of collagen in the tissue was measured. Also your fat versus muscle ratios can be seen form the scan. Come after all the annual feasts.

You get heavy metals (where have I collected that aluminium in my body?), minerals and vitamins checked. Some deficiencies can be acutely addressed by vitamin infusions administered by friendly, experienced nurses. Your energetic balance is inspected, which may cue to existing health issues not just physically but also emotionally. This energetic test impressively reflected my current health imbalances. Measuring it again after the week most of my organs and glands were back in equilibrium.

Nu Calm neuroscience applying technology relaxes as deep as a profound meditation or your best night’s sleep. It is beyond just noise-cancelling headphones with covered eyes in a reclined setting, the sound you hear does more than any YouTube alpha, delta et al. wave stream.

Bonsaicontemporary design spa Switzerlandcontemporary design room in Switzerland

The high-tech equipment as well as the attractive natural lakeside location with snow-capped Alpine views make the stay at the Chenot Palace Weggis extraordinary. Roger Federer drove over with his wife to test the methods of performance improvement available on site. Neurac® from Norway balance’s musculoskeletal pain. Directed by an excellent physiotherapist Julia or an osteopath revealed the weaknesses caused by my old injury that caused chronic pain. An incorrect training can also shuffle badly the weaknesses and imbalances between muscles. These can be corrected with the aid of the suspension slings manipulated professionally by the therapist.

There is a cardio altitude room within the gym. The hypoxic conditions force your heart work harder and the oxygen is more efficiently distributed, so when you exercise back in normal altitude it feels easier. There you also find a bird-like weightless antigravity training treadmill and Vacu-therm for fat-burning walks under infrared rays that also help to reduce cellulite. The antigravity lift felt sublime, as if my legs were feathers. There is nothing that I experienced to date that felt so easily elevating.

Find what you need: detox with recovery, rest or improved performance

At the Chenot Palace Weggis three signature programmes – basic Advanced Detox, Recover & Energise, Prevention & Ageing Well – offer targeted results. I recommend the basic detox program so you have some spare time to add anything reasonable that the doctor and the friendly therapists additionally recommend. It gets then more targeted to your needs.

Gentle walks in gorgeous surroundings, complimentary morning group stretching classes and aqua gym are suitable accompaniments to intense detox. While incredible hikes surround you, do not force, since you do not want to faint after the daily hot bath and wrap. The lake facing lap pool is comfortably warm because during the intense detox the body temperature drops. You can feel bone-deep cold.

There are two 90 degrees Finnish saunas, one separate for ladies, and a steam room. I missed the more gentle bio sauna because during detox one should not expose oneself to extremes, so mind these facilities.

Overall I cannot more agree with Chenot’s retreat’s mission: “Wellbeing seeing as a positive vitality, not merely the absence of disease. They are for people who come with the intention and purpose to reset or looking to make a serious long term change to their lifestyles.

If it is more convenient for you, there are also outposts in the mountains of Azerbaijan, a space within One&Only in Monte Negro and at the Selman hotel in Marrakech.

Replacing anxiety: Coffee substitutes and caffeine-free alternatives

Either for health reasons, sustainable performance for athletes, during pregnancy and breast feeding for women, coffee substitutes intrigue these mindful of their consumption. The side effect of caffeine brings about nervousness, anxiety, and even panic attacks, for women it can also upset estrogen levels.

In spring, a healthy detox is always a wise choice to reset the body and mind into a relaxed pattern at first and then gain more energy for the year’s festivities. During detoxification the body has plenty to do and you better rest to aid the intense process affecting most organs. From liver, kidneys, the digestive system, pancreas, gall bladder to heart. Therefore, all serious health retreats I have been to cross of caffeine out their cleansing menus. 

Cichorium Intybus

The new vice for the global world on speed

Not only the health conscious skip caffeine or at least try to reduce it, but Europe did not have caffeine in any form – coffee or tea until 17th century. On Vice I read that up until 1616, London had no caffeine because of the global trade had not improved it yet. I love the post’s author (Jamie Steidle) lips lifting confession:

“I don’t like the feeling when you have one too many espresso shots and you’re moving so fast that you might phase through the space-time continuum like a quantum particle.” And I cannot be more in sync with him grasping that “Caffeine, it turns out, is not the soul of coffee; trust me. It’s more about the ritual and the mood, not just a jolt of energy and heart palpitations.”  

They especially entertain our mind as if you once were a genuine coffee lover, not just the caffeine kick seeker, but a connoisseur of the deep expression of the Earth’s divers terroirs. For with coffee like the real tea (Camelia Sinensis) and wine, in different soils, elevations, exposures to the sun and other elements, the beans’ expression changes. The human intervention also counts as with tea and wine. Selecting the beans and then gently roasting it can support or break the quality.

Healthy coffee replacements

My coffee appreciation yielded a casual poem once. While I was sipping a frothy cappuccino brewed by a Japanese barista in Le Marais, Paris, I was elated that finally, Paris has a good quality, perfectly brewed coffee.

No lid to screen my eager lips

Dipping like silky petals of tulips

Wet with a dew diving down

Into the soiled brew I now own 

Touching the frothy pleasure 

My nose elates beyond measure

Warmth under the milky cloud

Caresses my mouth, teases joy out


coffee alternatives

Health reasons to quit coffee and switch to an alternative

About six months ago I had to stop drinking normal coffee for health reasons. The bad headaches and dizziness were enough to warn me that something isn’t alright. Later, blood tests showing serious anaemia confirmed my body’s blinking orange light. Listen to your body as it has that red flag capacity to prevent further damage. Tannins in coffee, black tea, chocolate and wine are the major interferences with the absorption of iron from the food we consume into the blood. One needs to consume these at least an hour apart from iron-rich foods and supplements.

As there always is a bright side to any misfortune, I embarked on a research journey seeking what else with a similar taste profile is out there on the market. Still, I would enjoy one cup of decaf coffee without the headaches, but the tannins were still in. The aroma of an excellently roasted coffee bean is simply irreplaceable.

Like the 15th century spice traders I voyaged to America where most hotels serve terrible decaf coffee. I try a sip, but mostly the experience is so bad that I advise to rather skip it altogether. As my desperation and curiosity grew, I asked around and rejoice, I got plenty of tips on artisan coffee roasters from LA to Brooklyn making delightful, by natural methods decaffeinated beans. Most used more mild method of water washing to rid the praised coffee berries off the for some unwelcome caffeine.

From spring mountain water soaring with bright flavours to sugar sweetened water, it works very well but takes more work than the harsh chemical treatments used commonly. The majority of chemical decaffeination washes away not just the unwanted but also some desired flavour. More often than not, lesser quality of beans were being used for this purpose. Not any more. The hardness of the water used is also a key to success. Even the world’s best barista at Mame, residing like currently myself in Zurich, also adopted his decaffeinating method to using local Swiss water. Still, even more gentle and flavour friendly is using CO2 method to remove the caffeine from the green beans prior to roasting. This is so far the best method I found that shows in the taste.

Healthy coffee alternatives

My recommended decaf coffees: Alana’s sugar H2O decaf Colombian beans in Los Angeles; Mexican brew by Devocion in Brooklyn; the trophies winning Mame in Zurich has with Swiss water washed blend; Deep in Marseille has sublime CO2 decaf roast from Ethiopia called Chill Pills.

Sometimes, my body is cheated into believing that I am drinking the real thing, I get a slight buzz from it for a couple of minutes, but then as if the brain found out the fraud, suddenly I am at ease and no headache comes. How intriguing is observing closely the reaction of your own body, especially when you are impartial, knowing that what you bought came from the decaf bag. 

Perhaps it is not caffeine, the illusion of comfort and pick me up before setting out to work, but the warm brew, the fragrance of which you can inhale joyfully. Indeed, any beverage with a pleasant deep aroma, unique to you, can step in the place of coffee. 

coffee alternatives

The best coffee substitutes for your health

Don’t just sip any herbal infusion. For a chamomile, fennel, ginger or any other plant tisane won’t satisfy these who seek the specific chocolaty, nutty, perhaps even bitter, sometimes tobacco leaves reminding aromas. Some herbal and grain substitutes supply important minerals, vitamins and other potentially beneficial nutrients, often alkaline and better than the body acidifying coffee. Further, some are more suitable for mixing with coffee in order to lower the caffeine content in your daily consumption.

Barley is perhaps the most common. In Italy any gas station offers orzo. The roasted barley can unfortunately tasted as if burned so I am usually dissatisfied either with the espresso or cappuccino form of it. Plus if gluten bothers you, barley is not your friend. Yet, there are some cafes and restaurants that source more elegantly roasted barley so you might prefer it to my further suggestions. In Japan, I tasted Mugi-cha or Barley tea which is essentially the same but not ground into fine grains as the coffee substitute would be. 

Taste-wise and health-wise, I find a better option in chicory. This roasted previously dehydrated root from chicory plant (Cichorium Intybus) has a deep flavour like coffee, nutty, woody, not bitter, and is an ideal morning partner to your breakfast. Not irritating your bowels as coffee does, plus it does not acidify the gut more than it already is. In my native Czechia, chicory is still very popular as it was commercially made for two centuries. From health stand for hypertension, therefore older people tend to sip on it instead of coffee that rises your blood pressure rather fast. It is a wonderful paring with milk and milk alternatives such as almond, oat or soy to whip up a frothy cappuccino or macchiato.

coffee alternativesHealthy coffee alternatives

Less common alternatives to your daily coffee

Creatively and historically, the resourceful Czechs have also used oak (Quercus Alba) acorns blended with other substances such as rosehip. The acorns contain tannic acid, which for some sensitive individuals may not work. For example if you suffer from anemia, the tannins interfere with the absorption of iron into the blood, so you better have your iron and this brew separately.

Spelt is a less common ancient grain brew, but roasted and blended with chicory it tastes close to black coffee.

Rye can be also roasted and then ground into more breakfast porridge kind of meal rather than delightful coffee alternative.

Lupins (Lupinus Lutens) can also be ground to a powdery consistence for warm cuppa, yet many people have allergy to these leguminous beans and the taste is nothing close to coffee, rather a beverage on its own merit.

In Japan, particularly around Kyoto I was impressed by the deep roast of KuromamechaBlack Soybean brew served often by monasteries and temples.

Healthy coffee alternativesRoasted tea

Economising choices of tasty beverages

I remember that particularly wide spread was a blend of chicory, sugar beet, barley and rye still available in Czechia today. Sold under the brand name Melta it was fortified with additional vitamins (iron, B6, potassium) and minerals (magnesium), yet cheaper than coffee and vastly popular during economically harsh times like wars and the occupation by Soviet Union. With inflation striking high, banks collapsing once again, we are well into the economically sober cycle, therefore cheaper and healthier alternatives to coffee become handy. In hard times, some rather puzzling ingredients were used to balance the cost of coffee, by adding dried and pounded figs, carrots, grape seeds, even potatoes into the imported coffees.

Dandelion plantcoffee alternativestasting of coffee alternatives in Czechia

Herbal remedies as coffee replacements

The root of dandelion is beyond its European staple status now frequently on the shelves of health food stores in the US. It is more like a herbal infusion with the bitter taste wanted for its bile production inducing effect. The inulin in it supports immunity.

Burdock is popular in the West Arctium lappa as well as in Asia. In TCM this berberine and inuline containing herb is known as blood purifier and tonic, overall it supports liver by promoting the flow of bile, increases circulation to the skin, and is a mild diuretic. The Japanese adore the health benefits and the slightly sweet flavour of the burdock root that is also used in cooking.

Healthy coffee alternatives

The superfood adaptogenic coffee is a blend of medicinal mushrooms (Chaga, Cordyceps, Lion’s mane and Reishi are most common), and herbs like Ashwagandha that help the body to fend off stress. Basically the opposite effects of caffeine, you get an energy boost without the jittery crust. In the eastern traditional medicine these ingredients were used for millennia and I also like the taste of some of the blends broadly available in the US and UK organic shops such as Moon Juice, Chagaccino (made with there chaga mushroom), reishi mushroom blends as well as Maccacino based on the libido and stamina-increasing South American powdered maca root. With chaga you need to be alert before any surgery or if you take blood thinners since it increases bleeding.

I like to buy it pure, organic and then experiment with blending other ingredients in for the best taste and effect on the specific day. For example I splash in a pinch of maca, houjicha powder (very low caffeine roasted green tea twigs now available at Blue Bottle coffee across the US and Kettl tea in New York) and even some cacao, plus oat milk for creamy texture. Get creative with your healthier cup of morning delight and also in touch with what your body and mind need, mindfully, not just robotically brewing a pick me up, but reflect first how do you feel and why?

roasted teabest tea in Paris

If you like something spicy without the caffeine then the alternative to chai is turmeric latte. The blend of sunshine-hued turmeric root with its inflammation effect enhancing black pepper and other spices like cardamom, cloves and sweet touch of honey, maple, brown or coconut sugar is brewed in hot milk for a cosy warm cold day remedy.

Ready to chill? My caffeine-free tips will keep you levelled, not up and down. Most importantly, find what you enjoy, savour, sip, love.

Schwarzenbach: from 19th century egg seller to the world’s best chocolates under one roof in Zurich

Schwarzenbach in Zurich brings the best of the world’s chocolates under one roof. In Oberdorf, the charming cobbled hill in the old town, the fifth generation of the Schwarzenbach family has shaken the chocolate traditionalists’ palates in the 21st century cosmopolitan Zurich.

Swiss best gourmet shops

Celebrating diversity in the Swiss liberal metropolis

That the Swiss have a penchant for fine chocolate is old news. Yet being open beyond the milk in it and beyond the Linds, Teücherlis, Läderlachs to contemporary local newcomers as well as sensitively selected foreign bean-to-bar craft chocolates, shouts that change is abound in the cantonal federation. The liberal Zurich has transformed itself over the past decade from a stiff banking centre of Switzerland, to the most internationally diverse city in Europe. As of 2022, forty percent of its residents are not Swiss. And as the diversity colours its streets, the dining and cultural scenes got more interesting, so naturally even the most traditional of products, such as Swiss chocolate got a spruce up in a more diverse offering. Just a few years ago my Zürich trips were streamlined to breakfast and snack at Sprüngli, Swiss traditional lunch at Krönnehalle and some ok Asian dinner with cool atmosphere. Hold and below, as if sprung up from the bushes, the ‘Züri’ youth now creates a vibrant plethora of anything you would expect from a worldly city. Liberal and open.

Swiss chocolate

Contemporary Swiss artisan chocolate

The new Swiss brands in the spotlight make their chocolates around Geneva or Zurich in scaled down production quantity, bean-to-bar, fair-trade, vegan, raw, name it.

La Flor is the Züri best it is said. Next to the bars but also the enrobed cocoa nibs, Piedmont hazelnuts and only in best years selected raw whole cocoa beans are extraordinary. I also like Garçoa not for their new age spiritualism on the cosmic packaging, but the content and the graphic shape of their thin bars that just feels perfect in the mouth. The Geneva-based, Orfēve signals your preferred bar by detailed, transparent description of the production of each pure chocolate bar ranging between 70 to 90 percent.

Yet, chocoholics rejoice, the offer is well beyond just Swiss-made!

Swiss chocolate

European chocolate offering

The best of the world’s chocolates now unreservedly found support beyond the Swiss in Zurich. Britain’s best, made by a popular coastal bakery Pump Street chocolates, especially the bread crumbs in dark chocolate bar gets your jaw into shape through some serious crunches, wonderful! Akesson’s for their pure origins of “single plantation” terroir precision is another made-in-Britain star and so are the more widely distributed Original Beans.

Aside from Millésime, Belgian chocolatier sourcing from South America and Mexico (I love their nutty and spicy Criollo bean of Chantugo Cacao 80% bar from Chiapas), there are more Italian than from Belgium additions in the Schwarzenbach chocolate library. From Southern Tyrol, where Austria borders Italy arrived Karuna. Ideal for those liking some fun in their chocolates, adding organic dried sea buckthorn, casis, milk, raspberries, coffee, nuts. From the South comes organic certified Sabadí with the Modica production style, which is not as smooth as the subtly conched chocolates you may be more familiar with, but it has its fans. You should try.

Chocolate ZurichSchwarzenbach chocolate boutique

Back to the cacao roots

More in the bygone times chocolate tradition, from Mexico comes Taza, round shaped more raw tasting chocolates. From South America, the Peruvian Qantu also made in Peru from its own elevated soil.

From Uganda, not just the beans but also manufactured in the country comes the Latitude range.

artisan chocolate bars

Unafraid: heritage meets contemporary tastes

H. Schwarzenbach is an iconic Zurich name known to the discerning locals for its finely selected worldwide gourmandise. In the tiny “colonial waren” as such worldly produce delivering stores used to be called, in-house roasted and freshly ground coffee, loose tea, spices, a wide selection of rice and beans, exotic fruit and nuts from dried persimmon to Thai dragon fruit and jackfruit chips are weighed into elegantly illustrated black and white paper bags upon order. The coffee is hermetically sealed to prevent moisture infiltration. Since 1928 the coffee roastery has operated its machinery to provide caffeine boost for the local discerning intellectuals. From bankers, lawyers to the Zurich university professorship, Schwarzenbach is still a point of indulgent quality reference.

best in Zurich

Schwarzenbach, unlike Sprüngli (brought by the Swiss chocolate giant Lindt) is still a family owned business. Now in the hands of the fifth generation, the deliciousness offering is there most expansive it has ever been. Originally an egg seller from St Gallen, later in 1910 the family bought the old post office at Münstergasse in Zurich. Curiously, the line of inheritance was always male, but the current Heinrich V. has two daughters, so who knows where the H. Schwarzenbach goes next?

The shop on your right used to stock also some of the chocolates, but as the cocoa passion has possessed the family members, there was a need to open a properly dedicated store only to chocolate pleasure. So where now the chocolate and espresso bar is situated used to be the open coffee roastery (now sandwiched between the chocolate boutique and the gourmet store) with a cosy indoor café. While we miss the wooden tables with perfectly brewed cups of coffee, the walls lined with chocolates more than made up for the loss.

coffee roaster in Zurichhot chocolateCoffee in Zurich

Each time I ventured in ever since the silent opening during the pandemic (in the early months of 2021), some new stock seduced me to a purchase. In all sizes, from tiniest squares, though half-bars, to packs of diverse flavours or single origin range of one brand such as the Vietnam-based Marou, but also melted in 65%cocoa Schwarzenbach hot chocolate (the grated dark chocolate bar can be bought for home making) next to the ultra serious sugar-free 100% cocoa powder by La Flor, either steamed with your choice of milk (Oatly barrista satisfies demanding vegans) or water. You can also have an espresso to go or to sit outside if the flimsy Swiss weather allows (when the sun shines though, the city revels!).

Schwarzenbach chocolate boutique Singaporean chocolate brands

Asia has landed in Zurich

Most recent additions were quirky flavours from Singaporean Fossa. How has the chocolate game down over there changed since I spotted the weird durian-flavoured funky chocolate bars there a decade ago (Naive Durian 67% with Bolivian cocoa still on offer at Schwarzenbach next to their other unusual flavours such as Porcini mushrooms and milky sour Kefir). Peanuty, satay sauce flavour with milk chocolate, Chrysanthemum for the China chic, dairy-free oat milk with apple and cinnamon warmth, the radical Salted Egg cereal echoing the Singha breakfast (I did not dare but was told that it is more like a custard than thinking of chocolate omelette) and for the purists like myself 100% Tanzania Kokoa Kamila and 75% Malaysian dark collected by the island’s Semai community. I kept the best for the end, a gift with humour if you dare, the Duck Shit Dancong milk chocolate that is not containing any animal excrements but a fine oolong tea.

Not far, still in Asia, from the Philippine soil came Auro, with added local glazed pili nuts(high fat content similar to macadamias) by Theo & Philo artisan chocolatier, while Krakatoa explores the Indonesian islands mounty from Bali to Sulawesi. I can go on, but even beyond the online store, there are more chocolates sold at the store, so I encourage you to come in person.

gourmet Zurich

My countless visits, with chocolate-infused chats with the lovely ladies led to buying more than I needed, (well I do need to match a broad chocolate library with my books studded study) but also to informative content for my chocolate-loving brain. It is the happy hormone needed for overcast and cold days that I seek for harmony, not the sugar. Schwarzenbach is now my drug store and a spa in one.

Open: Mon – Fri: 9am – 6:30pm; Sat 9am – 5pm

Maison Manesse: a gastronomic point in the most international city of Europe

In the lively vein of the Zurich Hasidic jewish neighborhood, casually, yet with a bright welcome, Maison Manesse treats you to a fun meal in touch with contemporary tastes. A red and green Michelin star for sustainability, the kitchen’s creativity is worth not just the stop, but in the gastronomically still somewhat impoverished Zurich worth traveling across the town as we do frequently. The Austrian chef Fabian Spiquel, a knife and fork tattooed on his arm, cooks tasty, locally sourced, flexible food.

Creative snacksCreative snacks

Maison Manesse is for everyone appreciating sustainably sourced fine meal in a relaxed atmosphere. The restaurant’s flexible menus welcome all dietary restrictions and lifestyle choices — from an incredible wine list, a creative house-made drink program including non-alcoholic concoctions.

Casually rustic, wood meets colourfully painted brass, this popular restaurant is not set along the lake luxury or the hip fourth district bohemia. Just off the highway in the Jewish neighbourhood less than half an hour walk from the compact city centre, Maison Manesse hides behind neon pink doors spawned over with ivy.

Creative vegan snacks at Maison ManesseCreative vegetarian snacks

Flexible and sustainable can work together

The bright name reflects the Manesse Platz in front, but there it ends. While not serving kosher food, local sourcing with sustainability focus their radar, and in so open eco-enthusiasts clap with appraisal. We also appreciate the customer-friendly diversity of the menus.

The MAISON EXPERIENCE comes in four or six VEGETARIAN, PLANT BASED or EVERYTHING mixed plates. This tasting menu is “a collection of the team’s favorite dishes inspired by our relationships with the best local farms and distributors.” On the menu you find the sources for the LAMB: CORTESI SERGIO from Puschlav; CHICKEN: Alpstein; PORK: Naturpark Beverin (Wergenstein) and Zur Chalte Hose (also ANGUS BEEF) in Kusnacht; PIKE PERCH from the Swiss part of LAGO MAGGIORE bordering Italy); SALMON TROUT from Bremgarten or BRÜGGLI in Sattel; EGGS: Hofblum in Samstagern; CHOCOLATE: Zurich-based Flor and Taucherli; POTATOES: Freddy Christiandl and BROAD BEANS by Family Heinrich both from Albulatal; HONEY from WABE3 in Zurich; VEGETABLES and eggs from Steffan Brunner Eichhof in Aarberg.

Water is filtered into reusable bottles. Wine or non-alcoholic pairings are available, but for aperitif the sommelier’s own infused gin collection towering in giant glass jars on the splash-painted bar counter is a must try. Hazelnut with green apple aroma smelled the most intriguing, better on the rocks. Since I like the local Zurich-made Gents tonic with my gin, I sipped on the reputedly the most popular ginger, chili with lemongrass infusion from an ultra wide, long-stem glass. Over festive periods special flavours pop out so watch for them if gin is your thing. I opted for the Hopfenstrasser Rose during the recent Christmas. Sans booze, the house redcurrant water kefir, homemade iced tea, and creative juice blends can spark up your water regime.

best dining in Zurich Maison Manessesummer terrace in Zurichhip Zurich Maison Manesse

Across the Swiss seasons with Maison Manesse

After a few tasting experience menus, we prefer to start with a la carte snacks. The fried yuca chips with truffle mayo were crunchy and thick-cut, the vegan mayo was based on soy cream. More on the fresh side, the romaine lettuce cups stuffed with watermelon, white asparagus and lovage sprinkled with marigold petals in summer. Also pickled kohlrabi rolls and savoury cabbage semolina strudel with chestnuts and cumin this winter were on the lighter side. We also loved the Zucchini, pistachio hummus and wasabi sesame. The Australian chef’s roots reflect in a multi-cultural immersion in one bite. With a white wine aperitif once, the broccoli gruyère balls with quince had a Sicilian whiff of arancini, but with a rich Swiss touch of the cheese and sweet quince jam topping. Another time steamed buns with pulled Swiss grass-grazed beef were served literally on fingertips of a hand sculpture set on the table.

Maison Manesse caters wonderfully to vegetarians and vegans. I usually go here for at least one of the plant-based snacks, because they are so creative and appetizing.

A bag full of daily fresh rye sourdough with whipped buttermilk butter poured over with herb-infused oil lands casually on your wooded tabletop.

Next to those few, small, creatively decadent snack options, there are no starters and mains, just plates, cheese and sweets. If you do not go for the tasting, then it is recommended to get at least three courses.

plant-based Michelin star meal at Maison Manesseplant-based Michelin star mealplant-based Switzerlandvegetarian Zurich

While the menu does change slightly every couple of weeks, it mostly plays with different, intriguing platings of the same dish. It shows how one recipe can look quite differently depending on the current mood in the kitchen. Also a touch up with another ingredient than you had previously  is fun and comforts with familiarity. My husband enjoyed the lightly cured salmon trout. Once served with carrot kimchi and leche de tigre like ceviche marinated in spicy peruvian sauce, the river pink fish instead of the Peruvian corvina (seabass) totally change the taste of the dish. A fish mainstay on the menu, on another occasion a touch of sour freshness with pickles or citrusy zest changed it up.

plant-based Michelin star mealplant-based Michelin star meal

Seasonal vegetables inspire the kitchen team. Winter is about roots from celeriac, jerusalem artichoke, pumpkin to cabbages, but once spring kicks on, the colors on the plate become a rainbow. I always go for at least one plant-based plate at Maison Manesse. A generously sized Radish salad with fried Caesar‘s mushrooms and smoked shiitake freshened up the oily intensity of the rare summer mushrooms. Most of these courses are richer for most of the year. Savoy cabbage, mole, nut crumble and sweet corn cream was sublimely satisfying and delicious. I tasted once my husband’s Chanterelle goulash with quark dumplings and lovage. Like gnocchi, the with dairy-lifted dumplings were rich and the sauce Swiss- intense. The Brussels sprouts, smoked carrot and coconut were not as exciting, but Red cabbage baked in salt crust, porcini, jerusalem artichoke, morels and apple roared my red wine palate.

Still the fish and meat are reasonably sourced. Our favourite meat plate over the years was the organic Swiss Alpstein chicken breast, onion puree and grilled lettuce. Cooked sous-vide, the bird was perfectly soft and the vegetables added just the right rich balance to the light meat.

lake fishreal bread

Michelin-starred Maison Manesse restaurant in ZurichMichelin-starred Maison Manesse restaurant in Zurich

Sometimes we add a Swiss cheese board with chutney, plus an extra slice of the house superb sourdough. Sourced from the best producers and cheese shops in Switzerland (Jumi in Basel Canton, Willi Schmid in the Canton of St. Gallen – Andreas Caminada, Switzerland’s most famous chef currently also sources there). Impressed, we bought the soft, creamy goat Geisseinrolle similar to the Geissenbartli we loved at Maison Manesse and the Jersey Blue at the recommended Tritt Kaserei store in the Viaduct gourmet hall in Zurich the next day.

Michelin dessertsmacarons and fruit jellykase platli

When going for one of the tasting experiences, a pre-dessert of snowy local fruit sorbet freshens your palate up and a trio of sweets pampers in tradition meets contemporary bowls blending frozen, dried, fresh, and creamy textures. Finale of small fruit jellies and changing flavours of macarons zap you sweetly up.

rare ginrare gin

A sensible wine list for every palate

Offering one of the best drink programs in Switzerland, not cultish, but open to great, affordable and premium rare wines, most in ready to drink older vintages, the cellar at Maison Manesse must be the best in Zurich. The reasonably priced wine list pleases like fine connoisseurs (we splurged once on a Mouton Rotschield 1988) and treasure seekers as well as those seeking good value not limited to well-known wine producing regions. Small vignerons, rare gems, and local Swiss Pinot stars (Bachtobel No3 2011, Fromm 2012, Studach 2016) were always in great shape. From Viña Tondonia blanco (this Spanish beauty calls for a sufficient age, so delighted were we with the 2004 vintage), through Hungarian Furmint blend, the Lebanese great Château Musar (we had 2012), Italian biodynamic trailblazer Emidio Pepe (2013) to the shooting star of our favourite French Château Rayas, we travelled on each occasion across the world’s greatest vineyards. By the glass, the bubbles impress anyone serious about sparkling wines, not just the labels. Once, instead of my usual gin apero, I appreciated the organic certified Loire Les Chatainieres from the indigenous Romorantin grape by Herve Villemade. Wine-wise, we never get bored at Maison Manesse and it is the place we often take visiting friends.

best wine list Zurichbest Swiss wines

While the kitchen can take the pace on low gears, especially once it gets busy, the service at Maison Manesse is perhaps the best balanced, friendly cum helpful in Zurich. When it is warm enough (you rarely find “unecological” heaters in Zurich) a shaded terrace on a side across from a supermarket opens up more tables, but we much more prefer the inside ambiance.

Address: Hopfenstrasse 2, 8045 Zürich

Phone: +41 (0) 44 462 01 01

Hours: Lunch & Takeaway: Wed – Fri: 11:45 am – 2pm; Dinner: Wed – Sat from 6pm

KLE elevates plant-based dining in Zurich with a chef trained at the world’s best restaurants

Kle, infuses an international fine dining pedigree into plant-based cuisine in Zurich. Opened and owned by a fearless female chef with Moroccan roots Zineb Hattab, a former engineer who followed her passion to cook. While her restaurant experience is not vegan (the closest to it was Dan Barber’s cauliflower ‘steak’) her work portfolio has the potential to upgrade the plant cuisine in Europe and will take your breath.

Growing up in Catalonia, her culinary journey took a star-studded path by the best kitchens on the Western dining scene. Zizi, as her nickname goes on Instagram, staged at the legendary El Celler de Can Roca, Nerua in the Bilbao, Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana in Modena, then the farm-to table Blue Hill and hip Cosme in NYC. In between, at the three Michelin Schloss Schauenstein, she became the right hand to the celebrity Swiss chef Andreas Caminada. We dined at all of these wonderful restaurants, hat down, bellies ready. Becoming vegan herself only recently, Kle was a last minute challenge that nevertheless seems natural to the chef who quit an engineering job to pursue her dream to become a great chef.

Zizi Hattabplant-based Zurich

The vegan state of restaurants

Unlike vegetarian menus popping even at the finest restaurants, vegan is still often associated with fringe cafes. Not until the American Matthew Kenney and Tal Ronen had started revolutionising the animal ingredients-free cuisine, blending their fine dining training, global culinary inspiration and using sustainable local, if possible small farms local produce. 

In Europe, time is ripe to go beyond the caffetteria base of sustainable eating out. Kle has a casual, relaxed vibe in the residential, hip Zurich’s district 3. Her team at Kle is very international, more typical of large fine dining establishments, opening up Zurich dining to a multicultural experience on small, cosy premises. The outside terrace snakes around the corner building for warm weather. After four meals and counting, we tried most of the summer menu.

dining in ZurichMoroccan heritage at Kle Zurich

Colorful, plant-based international inspiration sourced locally at Kle

There must always be the house bread. An indulgent take on traditional Moroccan bread buns, the pillowy coins of semolina are served well oiled with a superb, egg-free aioli whisked with “aqua-fava” (chickpea water), Moroccan spiced hummus and an oil and vinegar blend. The generously seasoned Moroccan pickles, once with radishes and cauliflower, other time red beets and mushrooms start you delectably. The pickles change on the whim which is unpredictably fun.

Sauerklee is an edible leafy plant used by diverse cultures reflective of the culinary concept using local produce while being inspired by global cuisines that the chef Zineb Hattab acquired at the greatest kitchens.

Kle: best brunch in Zurich? You judge.

The weekend brunch is generous. House granola, giant pancakes, cashew cream cheese over warm bagel, but also lighter fare like the refreshing Crunchy salad hearts, garlic, capers, roasted slivered and cracked almonds, slightly spicy horseradish dressing that also made it into dinner menu.

vegan brunchvegan Zurich

The BBQ mushroom sandwich on local bread maestro Paul the Baker’s sourdough was perhaps the best warm sandwich either me and my Philadelphia-born husband have ever had. Most likely healthier than most sandwiches, the juicy sauce leaked into your jaws with each sumptuous bite, heaven! I got a split decadent veggie wrap with falafel which was not stuffed in ball-shapes but mashed in with house coleslaw and an oozing pepper sauce. Both served wrapped in paper so spilling is minimal, and you can take the other half for a hike on nearby Uetliberg.

To sip on, Cafe de Ola, the sweet latin orange-scented coffee brew with Swiss brown sugar (or piloncillo, dried sugar cane juice, in Mexico) or freshly squeezed orange juice are offered for the typical brunch fix. On a hot day I went for a Swiss gin with a Fever Tree tonic pick me up. Sustainability certainly is taken seriously at Kle, so reusable steel straws are offered with drinks. Loose leaf green, strong Chinese black tea, mint infusion and African red rooibos brews are served in a large glass pot. 

plant-based Zurich

As the evenings cool off, the small interior with a bar just to mix drinks is cosy. Intriguingly retro Swiss meets contemporary rustic design. We adored the hanging light bulbs on strings snaking along the ceiling.

Kle is an international, contemporary restaurant using local seasonal produce. Expect some small plates and large enough bowls to share, so it is best to ask the server how big the specific portion is. The dinners can be a four course tasting or a la carte.

The generous Smoked carrot tartare, pickled onions with Swiss-grown quinoa has remained a popular staple of the sharable starter menu. Japanese seasoning adding a smoky depth, the long marinated and gently cooked carrots soak in the flavours like potatoes in traditional mayonnaise potato salad.

vegan Kle Zurich

Local potatoes feature in a superb indulgent main course. The Züri young potatoes, miso mayo, pickled and roasted beets, beet ketchup and radish sprinkled with the sauerklee herb are a must try.

The menu slightly changes every couple of weeks. For example the decadent house dark mole sprinkled with sesame seeds was served with a better fitting green sprouting broccoli in July, while roasted cauliflower accompanied the superb Zizi’z mole in late summer. A refreshing mid-summer gazpacho was as excellent as the best we had in Spain and the Pea, tomato and mushroom ceviche with sunflower seeds was perfect on a balmy summer evening on Zurich’s streets.

food at Kle Zurich

Hesitant, but curious, worth taking the risk was the Mushroom and Jus ragu on a wild blueberries acquarello risotto served recently at Kle. Surprisingly not sweet, a relief, since the wild berries are more sour like pickles or a vinegar. Homemade pasta also step into the changing menu.

The chef’s stage at Enrique Olvera’s Cosme in New York reflects on the menu with some Mexican touches. Since we dined at Cosme countless times, we easily recognised the delectable pool of fine Mexican gourmandise. Kle’s outstanding Tostada topped with peanut salsa macha, herbs and grilled summer vegetables, Zizi’s caramelized mole with pan fried seasonal vegetables I mentioned earlier or the Corn tamal and chile guajillo sauce topped with nut cream will all rock your belly. It is virtually impossible to find such high quality Mexican fare in Europe! Making it all vegan was surely challenging, but I did not miss any cheese, pork or seafood on these delectable Kle creations. We dined at Mexico’s best restaurants and at Enrique Olvera’s Cosme, but this was a summit climbed up on the European soil.

Mexican dishes at KleMexican dishes at Kle

plant-based cuisineVegan Mexican cuisine

Cosme also rings in the dessert of Corn custard, whipped vanilla soy cream topped with airy cardamom chips. Her vegan take on the famous Corn husk meringue at Cosme in New York in this cardamom puffed cloud smartly replaced the egg whites and dairy with luscious flavours. Swiss berries in summer and carrot cake further pop on the sweet menu.

Kle vegan Zurich

Spirits are not the house specialty, but the wine list is themed around natural winemakers’ provisions. International, not huge, but curated towards more biodynamic and organic wines. By the glass as an aperitif Dido, a Spanish organic wine blend from Montsant, once a mass producing region with some great producers injecting more personality into their wines, was refreshing yet deep. We love the volcanic wines from Tenerife. A bottle of the red blend with the typical Listan Negro, smoky deep, but a Pinot-like light, was perfectly suitable for the diverse cuisine at Kle.

Spanish wineorganic Spanish wine

Opened this winter in the most challenging environment for restaurants globally, Kle is yet to withstand the indiscriminate thread of Covid. As an appreciative foodie with an empathy for excellent restaurant employees, I think that it is the duty of us customers to support the best talent there is. Therefore, I encourage any of you dining out these days, please, tip generously (as we do). These teams work hard, wearing masks for your protection which is not comfortable when you sprint around with heavy plates. The same applies to the cooks steaming more into their masks over a hot stove. Ground-breaking restaurants like Kle in Zurich are worth keeping around.

Zweierstrasse 114, Zurich
+41 44 548 14 88

Dinner Wed – Sun: 6 pm – 10 pm
Weekend brunch 11 am – 2 pm

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