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.

The calmest place in Geneva: the mysterious aura of La Cimetière des Rois
The calmest place in Geneva in summer is not by the busy lake, but under the shades in the Cemetery of the Kings away from the frolics of the town.
It may sound ironic, even counterintuitive, but one can feel rejuvenated after nesting at a cemetery for a while. Once, just before heading to one of my favourite tea rooms and sweat wagashi treats, I nibbled my lunch mindfully on a shaded bench of one vast Tokyo cemetery. I even scribbled a few poems under the willow trees of another in Copenhagen. So often while gazing ahead on the Mediterranean blues, I contemplated my desired eternal resting site on the prow of the hill in St Paul de Vence.
Most recently, on the eve of a concert of my favourite contemporary piano composer in the plush the Théâtre du Léman, another live performance graced my day. As I attended to the birds orchestra perched in the crowns of the majestic trees in Geneva, two professional singers were stretching their chords in a tree studded corner. This not always vocal metamorphosis from mortality to eternity present so peacefully at cemeteries fascinates me. There are no ball games, no cyclists swishing by and only a few dare to picnic. These adorned spaces of bodily rest calm me and induce spacious focus that feels meditative and inspiring. Try it yourself, but beware as with everywhere else, only a few really feel like soul places, unique, mysteriously binding you to their aura.
flaneurSwiss street art

Naturally, the mood also depends on the cementerio (like Recoleta in Buenos Aires), cimetiére (Per Lachaise in Paris), cimiterio (Staglieno in Genova), friedhof (Petersfriedhof in Salzburg), hrbitov (Vyšehrad cemeteryin Prague), kirkegård (Assistens in Copenhagen) amongst many other sites of post-mortem respect, but somehow the older are more interesting.


From stone through sculpture, from primitive aesthetics to cultured sophistication, the naturist art at La Cimetière des Rois, the oldest cemetery in Geneva hosts the most prominent of its inhabitants from centuries under the French clasp and the later Swiss era that attracted global intellectuals in. The Argentine phenomenon Jorge Louis Borges grew up in Geneva and was also buried here.

In the Plainpalais district not far from the historic museum, théâtre and university areas, Geneva’s Cemetery of the Kings is more used by the savvy locals than tourists. The with trees clad space has since 1482 welcomed a few noble descendants of nobility (naturally, a baron’s grave is quite imposing), the city’s mayors, illustrious personalities like philosophers (Austria-born Robert Musil), painters (the leader of Genevan romanticism François Diday), poets (next to Simone Rapin, one Grisélidis Réal – “poet, writer and prostitute” is also buried there), religious reformers (Jean Calvin)writers (Jorge Luis Borges), next to world peace builders, ground breaking doctors, to the banking scions of the Pictet family.

Cemetery of the Kings in GenevaCemetery of the Kings in Geneva

If one is to find respite in the burdened mundane existence then a smaller scale, not as overwhelming burial site better serves a contemplative moment on one’s own. Perhaps only accompanied by the whispering spirits of the deceased. Well, a lot can still happen at a cemetery besides burial.

As I observed at the Cemetery of the Kings in Geneva, the resident fat rabbit amuses strollers in a vivid − nature meets men encounter. A mature gentleman on a shaded bench was extracting world news from a paper, cigar puffing out his bemused mouth, what a way to relish the everyday! I was turning my gaze away from a wandering couple binding their love by kissing unashamedly right in the middle lane.

Not just because of such entertainment, the Cemetery of the Kings is my favourite spot in Geneva. The lake might be as liberating, temporarily, but better on a sailboat. If one is bound to the shore of this Franco-Swiss metropolis that overall grew beyond its charming past, disruption and not enough space available for the mind to unwind, spurs the heart to release and the soul to open its wings somewhere.

La Cimetière des RoisCemetery of the Kings in Geneva

Some of the grave sites are not even made, sculpted or carved. I adore the present assemblies of a simple natural stone, some with a tree trunk winding around its eternal body and/or coated with mossy fur. These feel to me like the nativist kami or forest spirits one meets along pilgrimage trails in Japan. Such a place may invite a poem in a creative soul, peace in a bereaved’s heart, a reflective essay into an intellectual’s mind. The philosopher Nietzsche mentioned Genova’s Staglieno as “the most beautiful among the worlds most beautiful” as he found peace in his very alive moments at that Mediterranean cemetery. Praised by Byron, Dickens and Stendhal, the Certosa di Bologna cemetery with its monumental tombs that feel like an open-air-museum also moved the sensitive souls of the creatives. But you do not have to be an artist to appreciate calm moments on your own in the buzz and crowds of our current overpopulated world. Just go with the flow of the honourable space carved for our ancestors.

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

Schloss Schauenstein: the heart of the Caminada family creative epicentre

In the sunny valley of Swiss castles, the waiting list at the gastronomic restaurant at Schloss Schauenstein can delay your appetite for months. You are up for the most special fine dining treat in Switzerland. At this rural, three-Michelin-starred seat of the Swiss celebrity chef Andreas Caminada, dining at a castle beats any fairytale. The chef’s growing empire now includes four gastronomic concepts reigning from Switzerland to Bangkok. Since I moved to Helvetia, I’ve tried countless lauded restaurants from Geneva to Zurich, but none is at par with the meal at Schloss Schauenstein. So, put your princess dress or a jacket on and ride your four-wheeled carriage over for a memorable gourmand retreat. I’ve already reserved my fifth meal there. Well, now is July and the next availability together with a room at the castle was in February! Plan ahead as the Swiss do, oomph.

Swiss idylDishes by Andreas Caminada

A cuisine that is not Swiss, but still local

As you exit the Italy — Zurich highway, just a few plates throw from Chur, a fertile Alpine valley lures into Fürstenau. Once there, no road noise disrupts the idyl, birds perhaps, a burbling creek or a local factor passing by in a tortoise pace. The peaceful setting in a modestly sized castle comforts with impeccably selected contemporary furnishing and sexy evening light. Something that could not exist anywhere else, for Mr. Caminada’s collaboration with local biodynamic farmers and growers is the seasonally changing key to his reducing to minimum of most luxe produce from elsewhere (there were exceptions of course such as the 2019 creation of langoustines from South Africa or a 2005 dish of duck liver from France). A daring move mounting dizzying peaks of confidence in a landlocked country.

contemporary art restaurants Swiss best

If you want to experience the Swiss hospitality packed into one, charming hamlet, [check out #fürstenauthesmallestcityintheworld] nested in a valley between Grisons’ (Graubünden) peaks, there has not yet been a better place than Fürstenau. It is better than anything in St Moritz, and in Basel at the Cheval Blanc it’s more French than Swiss. Nevertheless, like his French predecessors, Regis Marcon, Georges Blanc and other gourmand villages in rural France, you will arrive at a full package while staying overnight. A bakery, gourmet shop, casual bistro, an ice cream parlor in summer, three star restaurant and a new vegetarian counter concept OZ. The latest project aims high as the chef disclosed while casually chatting with us and other guests during our bistro lunch. The cream of his gastronomic team was shuttled across the road to make OZ as good as the fine dining at the castle. Catering to the urgent contemporary desires of the eco-minded and ethically alert customers, it is a timely venture.

Apero snacks

Focused and supportive mood at Schloss Schauenstein

To decode the purpose and to understand the perfectionism behind this unshakable three Michelin starred and 19 GM points wielding restaurant, I had to dine, stay and talk with the friendly team members four times. I arrived at the conclusion that Schloss Schauenstein is about sharing passion, experience and creativity between a young team of talented cooks. In spite of the chef’s Andreas Caminada celebrity status in Switzerland, the core in this expanding gourmet village is a warm welcome. The chef, his wife who runs the Ucellin Foundation supporting young culinary talent, or his restaurant managers walk around the tables for small talk. It is a family business after all, his relatives design the menu cards and the new culinary magazine. Friendly professionality penetrates all three concepts at Schauenstein as well as at the chef’s four (so far) IGNIV outcrops. Chef Caminada is also a superb mentor as the kitchen mood feels rather focused and relaxed than anxious and stressed. The final plating is always done by the chef, even the desserts.

White fish by Andreas CaminadaSwiss best diningSwiss gastronomyvegetables Andreas Camindaa

Influences: the balanced cooking style of chef Andreas Caminada

Andreas Caminada cares about precision cooking. His Swiss efficiency produces perfection plate by plate, yet not that exciting, emotional explosion that some unforgettable dishes can create. Each time we enjoy the meal wholesomely, yet my heat does not bounce out of my ribcage with that oomph, I want this plate again, infinitely! It is above all a balanced, consistently pleasing fine meal in a gentle atmosphere.

His contemporary culinary style influence comes from the Dutch super chef Sergio Hermann, a close friend with whom Mr Caminada cooked. Marcel Skibba, the chef at the IGNIV concept at the Badrutt’s Palace in St Moritz each winter, under the astute lion eye of the head chef currently manages the kitchen at Schloss Schauenstein for the rest of the season.

menu Schloss Schauenstein contemporary art in interiors

Swiss fishCaminda signature plates

The three Michelin experience starts with aperitif snacks. There is usually the signature beet cornetto with slight sweet touch and a herbal (often tarragon) savory macaron, the rest is often inspired by the garden’s bounty (onion tartelette, asparagus with ponzu, mushroom mille feuille) including its edible floral beauty. Once we had a sublime Fake Oyster made from lettuce and potato starch. The beef pastrami in a taco shell with petal salad was served each meal. Although they slightly change the menu every season, petals and plant fronds crown many of the dishes here, shower with the sense of freshness. In summer when weather favours the balmy outdoors, the snacks are served on the castle terrace.

Swiss sparkling wineMichelin Switzerland

The wines are mainly local. Sparkling brut by Adank, dry Riesling blended with Sylvaner by Obrecht, a Chardonnay or Swiss indigenous Completer by Studach take their turns. In the pairing though other countries feature, and so does beer. The sommelier has a special release from our favorite Swiss Pinot Noir producer Obrecht. His late release Monolith is rare and I recommend trying a bottle as we did.

Michelin cuisine Switzerland Schloss Schauenstein by Andreas Caminadathree Michelin star Switzerland

The pink meets green print menu brochure complete with the detailed description of the history of the place also contains a living gift in the form of seeds that you can plant wherever you desire. A living memory of a special meal out. Leafing through some castle legends and stories of the inspiration behind some signature plates of Andreas Caminada busies your mind until your first courses arrive. The choice is of having the menu with extra additions. Such as chef’s choice of Swiss cheeses and charcuterie served with dried fruit bread, boiled and baked potatoes, additional dessert and/or two surprise courses. These may include a superb Ox Gyoza nesting under a duet of verdant and innocent white foam. The Veal Sweetbread with fennel is the top gun of the house usually included in one of the surprises.

THree Michelin star Switzerlandthree Michelin star Switzerland

Sour taste is not neglected. In the Nordic style, many plates including the desserts include fermented or pickled plant parts stored in a cellar at the contemporary built Casa Caminada across the road. Sourness shows naturally mainly in the fish dishes spanning trout, char or other white fish like pike perch from the farmers around the Alps.

Our favorites from the smaller courses were the lemon miso fried Cauliflower, the liquified Lettuce head with jalapeño, the Pea in Kohlrabi “ravioli” and the Trout from Ranch Farsox in the Albula Valley, red beet (chef’s favorite vegetable) or kohlrabi with peach as we had it this July.

three Michelin star SwitzerlandSwiss fishSwiss gastronomy

In the meaty mains (usually four plates in each tasting menu) realm I prefer the Venison served with peach like this July, but my husband is always smitten by the melt-in-your-mouth Pork of the Ormalinger Weideschwein breed from Hofgut Farnsburg. Last time I also had a tender yet well cooked through Quail served under a sheet of marinated beetroot in its red beet sauce. Of course, you can order a vegetarian or vegan menu.

Andreas Caminada platesSwiss Michelin guide

Unfortunately, for those who wait all dinner for the sweets, the desserts at Schauenstein wane next to the superb savory courses. In spite of their prettiness, there was never even one that would leave us sighing for more. A souflèe, a mince-pie like cake, some fruit sorbet with sourness incorporated into it… Perhaps it is just the combination of too many of the pastries meeting complex flavors that just do not sit along that well.

The hours-lasting experience ends with additional sweet snacks and a tisane, tea or coffee either at your table, on moonlit terrace or in your room at Schloss Schauenstein. Chocolates, candied fruit, fresh or sour (rhubarb, sea buckthorn) fruit tartlets, and other finger-sized mouthfuls conclude the memorable feast so fully sated you roll into your bed minutes after.

three star Michelin Switzerland

desserts Andreas Camindathree Michelin star Switzerland

Schloss Schauenstein keeps evolving in all senses. Each time we visit, there is something new in or around the castle. Whether it is visual in the form of plating the signature dishes, their seasonal accompaniments or the interior design or expanding the horizons of your taste. Collaborations, newborn concepts, touching up the bakery products, adding new drinkable, edible or kitchen-useful souvenirs at the shop, the chef and his team do not rest on his laurels, but keep moving forward. That is why we love returning. Tasting creativity is perhaps the most indulgent artistic experience one can have. The small castle at the feet of the spiking mountains is grander inside than a first glimpse may suggest. Its gardens, contemporary interior and ceaselessly upgraded anything in the cluster of the gourmet village life.

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I highly recommend staying overnight. Not just for the excellent breakfast with freshly baked house breads and that oh so chocolatey flaky pain au chocolat, the comfort of not traveling with your head filled with wine, but also for savoring a light lunch at Casa Caminada (photos above) the day after. After a big wine night, we enjoy the non-alcoholic sweet seabuckthorn Swiss Tonic spritz they make there. The area also charms with painterly fertile fields, ripening orchards (apples, cherries, pears, hazelnuts, walnuts), golden dusted mountain cliffs and vibrant rivers. The swimmable Lake Canova is less than an hour walk or one can hike uphill to burn off some of that delicious affair. In summer, there is plenty to be foraged.

Wild strawberries lace the hedges, mushrooms the forest beds. Inspired by the menu from our July night, I picked elderberries to pickle them like capers later at home. The guests of the hotel can use a small garden, complete with a plunge pool, calm reading chairs, and a delightful kitten eager to play restlessly. Booking months in advance is necessary as there are not many other places to stay in the immediate area.

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

Talvo by Dalsass: all seasons dining in a Swiss 17th century chalet

In one of the oldest, stunningly facade-painted farm houses in the Engadine valley Talvo by Dalsass offers the most consistent fine meal in the summer and winter around St Moritz. Only a five minute drive from St Moritz in a quaint village of Champfér, the family restaurant creates pleasure with Mediterranean pure olive oil to emphasise the highest quality of the ingredients sourced locally like lake fish, game, and globally, like seafood. The signature Atlantic turbot in two servings is always on the menu or occasionally wagyu beef. Italian olives, tomatoes, a wide changing variety of olive oils, herbs, fish and seafood all flown daily from the Mediterranean and the Atlantic ocean. Using between 10-12 varieties of annually harvested extra virgin olive oil distinguishes Martin Dalsass’s food in the mountains the most from other restaurants in the Swiss Alps.

St Moritz diningmountain cuisine

We dined on countless snowy occasions in this 1658-built “chesa” as they call a chalet in Romantch, the ancient local language still in use in the Engadine. This was our first summer in the blooming Alpine valley, and after learning that most gastronomic restaurants are closed past the winter season, we returned twice within the sun-filled week to Talvo by Dalsass. The menu constantly changes slightly, yet the core and the signature plates remain the same. If you seek familiar, reliable flavours this is your realm. Based on protein-centric plates in tune with the season, luxurious truffles, game and fish rotate on the generously sized and Swiss mountain priced menu. 

The perhaps hardest trying service in the Engadine is overseen by the caring chef Martin Dalsass conducting the synchrony between the dining room and his son Andrea in the kitchen. The South Tyrolean chef took over Talvo in 2011. Greeting you and with a genuine smile, he also receives your thanks before you shut the massive wooden door of this splendidly renovated farmhouse. A fine meal to be dressed for accordingly smart.

Fine French culinary techniques in Italy meets Alpine cuisine at Talvo by Dalsass yielded fast a Michelin star. As you sit to one of the tables decorated with a colorful sculpture of a cow, a board of homemade salami lands with your aperitif, a superb green olive oil (sign of freshness), grissini, plum red tomatoes and matching theirs size — green olives land at your table with compliments from the chef. Further, a generous bread basket with my beloved ultra thin-crisp Sardinian Pane Carasau, focaccia, and varied bread buns entertain you until your starters arrive. Meanwhile, the kitchen sends a treat of a cream soup (carrot, pumpkin, celeriac, topinambur velouté, …), plus a veal or fish tartar, a game terrine or other complimentary amouse-bouche. 

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The wine list spans the greats and more affordable producers from Italy, Switzerland and France, but also the Americas. One day a glass of the Washington State Riesling or California Chardonnay may colour up the Euro-centric table. We often order a bottle of Graubunden Swiss Pinot like Monolith by Obrecht with some age on it or other local reds like from the highly prized Gantenbein. On the lean side, the complex, Southern Italian Biodynamic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo by the ladies at Emidio Pepe, occasionally a “super Tuscan” Sassicaia or reasonably priced Bordeaux accompany our meal in winter. 


As the St Moritz has been for over a century drawing in wealthy jet setters, the customer-base is very international. One winter, three Japanese ladies sniffed in a nirvana-like gasps the dining room intoxicating truffles. When in season, next to the superb al-dente risotto and pasta, the aromatic fungi can be shaved on any dish with a “*” for an extra charge. As the waiter piped out grappa from a large glass container into the visitors’ schnapps flutes their smartphones were snapping as if they were in a ski race.

During her appearance at the annual St Moritz Gourmet Festival two years ago, ANA ROŠ, the self-taught Slovenian chef, a former skier turned overnight a celebrity chef though the Netflix Chef’s Table series, contemplated over the excellent flavours at Talvo. Notably, the Talvo’s food was so much more satisfying and more harmonious than her nose-to-tail locavorism we, unimpressed, dined on the previous night.

The Gault Millau 18 Points for a quarter of a century nod to Talvo’s highest quality of ingredients and execution in the Engadine, that Martin Dalsass also consistently achieved in his previous restaurant Santabbondio in Sorengo.

Michelin Engadinefine mushrooms

Still, vegetables, even on the summer menu, remain sadly in the background. The old school French fine dining focus on animal protein and “luxury” ingredients such as truffles, girolles, beef, veal and turbot are supposed to intrigue, yet if you dine out often, more humble ingredients prepared perfectly is all we crave. To the the chef’s credit though, each time I requested a meat- and fish-free starter, something utterly delectable came out from the kitchen. In summer, sautéed chanterelles, so generous in their reduced wine sauce that I devoured three slices of bread with the treat. In winter, I landed a Crispy artichoke, poached egg, topinambur topped with black truffles. A superb, dairy-free risotto, so wonderful left me wondering why one cannot just skip the cow’s milk for good? The trick is that the chef uses often the savory veal jus reduction for his base sauces. I had also his decadent, normal cream, cheese, butter and white truffle version in winter, but I found his lactose-and daity-free version more elegant.

seasonal menupasta

Herbed gnocchi may have truffles and crispy artichoke coating or as potato-free, doughy smooth Pumpkin gnocchi filled with Taleggio cheese in winter, while summer ushers lighter seafood like shelled prawns to accompany the pea-green buns. The signature Orecchiette though never change. These tiny pasta shells are served with sautéed shelled clams and thin noodles made of calamari. An intensely sea-salty dish that some sensitive palates may find too seasoned, but this is how the Mediterranean tastes if you have ever dipped in and slurped a bit of it.

Michelin Engadinecreative cuisine in th Alps

Another signature starter at Talvo by Dalsass is the Lobster with granny smith apple sauce always delicately prepared. I love the meaty-texture of the octopus tentacles in the form of Octopus, fennel, pickled onion, sprouts at Talvo by Dalsass.

Some of the menu’s stalwarts like tooth fish from Chile, Turbot from the Atlantic and steak are not Mediterranean staples. On their website, the chef’s approach is illuminated: “dishes are created like spontaneous, sensual paintings in his head. He also wants to feel the genuine power of nature in his culinary creations.”  The elegantly grilled Turbot or whole-roasted Guinea fowl in two servings are the highlights of his pure, no frills focused cuisine.

Engadine fish

Still, the main courses are not tiny and a light fare. With an abundant the mountain activities, the appetite rises so leaving the restaurant sated is desirable. A trio of lake fish or Veal with foraged chanterelles and vegetables on the summer menu recently was a perfect refill after half day hiking. In hunting season, local Saddle of baby deer with pine nut crust and cranberries or Rack of beef either served with a side of mashed potatoes hit the carnivorous tooth rewardingly at Talvo.

Olive oil chocolate mousse is the signature dessert, yet the occasionally added sweet free cakes (like banana & chocolate, lemon tart), fruit jellies, and staple frozen ice cream stones, physalis dipped in chocolate and chunks of flavoured white, milk and dark chocolates (custom-made by the Swiss chocolatier Läderlach with a branch in St Moritz) fix the sweet finale and balance the high prices of the a la carte dishes. The cheese trolley is excellent too, and your choice is served with boiled potatoes in their skins, fruit and nut bread, jams and fruit.

cheese plateSwiss chocolatier

Across two floors, the open plan central dining space, split into about six tables in each offers plenty of distance. A large private room hosts closed circle celebrations, in the Covid times, a welcome amenity. What we love about Talvo by Dalsass that a caring family business can still thrive even in the glitzy area of Switzerland such as St Moritz, and with every meal from at least two dozen being superb, we will always be back.

 +41 81 833 44 55

Via Gunels 15, 7512 St. Moritz – Champfèr, Switzerland

Gourmand mountain paradise in St Moritz

From globe-trotting chefs through hedonistic festivals to local Alpine indulgences, St Moritz has flexed its gastronomic muscle on the moneyed workout supplied into its Swiss mountain for decades. Before Courchevel (and Les Trois Valées), there was St Moritz. More, the glistening lakes, see-and-to-be-seen stage stretches its red carpet beyond the ever briefer winter snow season, and your palate’s whims won’t come short anytime of the year.

eating like pigstruffle pizza

Gourmandise has always been indulged in the posh resort where movie stars and the European power jet set spoon caviar from silver goblets, truffles are shaved over anything like salt flakes, and seafood is flown or driven daily from the Milan fish market for its utmost freshness. An annual St Moritz Gourmet Festival draws in the world’s most celebrated as well as the up and coming chefs. At the grand hotels, this is a dressy affair, while some of the multi-course tasting dinners are set in more casual, redressed conference and dining rooms in the area.

Flamkuchenapres ski

Eat local around St Moritz year round

On the mountain slopes, Salastrains has sustained the great food seeking crowds for decades. Their truffle pizza is Roman-style (tomato base on thin, soft, olive oil added, chewy crust) and satisfying. More young crowd, less expensive, and most dishes are hearty, mountain fare.

Inside the authentically renovated boutique hotel Chesa Rosatsch in Celerina (about seven minutes drive from St Moritz) for lunch after an intense cross-country run we like the Uondas grill where superb Alsatian tarte flambé are baked to an ultra-thin crispness under the créme frâiche with local dried venison, fresh Swiss cheese and other superb toppings. They dry age “madürà” calf, beef and lamb in their maturity cabinet that is then grilled to perfect. On sunny days, their house-made vanilla swirl ice cream with coffee is my indulgent après-ski replenisher. The food here is much better than at the more famous Chesa Veglia grill owned by the Badrutt’s Palace Hotel (the pizza restaurant there is very good though). Most restaurants now have vegan options or even a special plant-based menu. Uondas includes a few vegivore bowls on its evolving menu.

St Moritz vipbest food in St Moritz

Eat fancy on the slopes

Literally next house to Salastrains, after 50 years of family restaurant business at La Marmite, the local star chef and co-founder of the annual St Moritz Gourmet Festival, Reto Mathis moved to a new location with an open terrace in 2017. Named CheCha by Reto Mathis, the caviar and truffle king (the ultra fine thin-crust pizza OMG!) rolls your eyes scanning the “Eggs & Balls” menu (Reto Mathis Private Selection beluga for 4200 Swiss Francs!!) also offers “VEKAPU”, a daily changing vegan basket of specialities. In March 2018 Switzerland introduced one of the world’s strictest laws that prohibits any infliction of unnecessary pain to animals. Lobsters cannot be cooked alive, but must be stunned before. Eating living and moving shrimps as in Japan would be a criminal offence in the otherwise quite liberal and neutral country. The crustaceans in the aquarium at CheCha wait to be pampered prior to entering your plate. Scientifically sound, the new rule acknowledges the highly evolved nervous system of the lobster. Non-skiers and indulgent lunch drinkers (English sparking Nyetimber gets a special, full page attention) can get there or back on a horse-driven carriage. The Culinary School here tempts home chefs to visit St Moritz in summer.

best Slovenian chef dish by Ana Ros

St Moritz Gourmet Festival spotlights female chefs and the world’s finest three Michelin chefs

The Gourmet Festival is scheduled annually around the Snow Polo on the Lake, late in January or early February. From our three years of participating, fancy ingredients still rule as the chefs seem to be concerned with not satisfying their fine clientele, nobody, yet, serves plant-based cuisine or humble produce that has been increasingly highlighted by sustainably-minded chefs globally. A growing influx of female chefs have recently accepted the invitations to cook in the sunny mountain valley. Dominique Crenn as well as the Slovenian Ana Roš paid a visit last year, Brazil’s Bel Coelho, Bee Satongun from Asia and others opened up our cultural taste buds beyond the Swiss borders .

St Moritz Gourmet Festival

Thematically, you encounter purely female chefs as in the 2020 edition, or just a melting pot of established and rising stars in the global culinary world. Usually, at least one Thai chef participates (we were thrilled with Ian Kittichai and Bee Satogun of Paste Bangkok, Laos and soon a new opening in Australia). We always discover at least one chef, whose restaurant we would otherwise missed (the three Michelin starred Jacob Jan Boerma, whose superbly balanced cuisine we loved, closed De Lest in 2019, now opening a more casual concept in Amsterdam), while Lola in Copenhagen inspired our return to the Danish capital for her by Bolivia-tinted, yet locally-driven cuisine. Saving ourselves unnecessary gourmet trips to those restaurants, whose chef’s performance underwhelmed (Ana Roš of Hiša Franko disappointed with her flat, quite boring execution). The festival dinners are spread beyond St Moritz between the local hotels, which is an opportunity to disembark from your regular haunts. This year over 4000 diners forked through the fine cuisine served during that indulgent week in St Moritz.

Caminada restaurantAndreas Caminada food

Fine dining in St Moritz

While some St Moritz restaurants have been offering reliable although not cheap delicacies for decades, almost every year a newcomer stirs the local dining scene beyonds its limits. The Badrutt’s Palace hotel leads the fun and fine dining evolution here. Recently, IGNIV overseen by the three Michelin starred Swiss chef Andreas Caminada upped the dining game at the Badrutt’s Palace. Small plates like luxurious tapas, each fine-tuned, tempting, fun, to be shared in endless servings inside the sexy and intimate ambiance. We loved it each season so far. Once a year, usually in February, the chef Caminada himself shares the kitchen with his IGNIV branch chefs in a spectacular evening of hedonistic pleasure. The head sommelier pairs the best Swiss wines with the intriguing fare, indeed a family party, as they call the night.

Jason Atherton at the Badrutt’s Palace Hotel launched his contemporary fun British culinary offensive in the last winter season. Set in the club downstairs, many of the Asia meets Europe creations are finished at the table as the Dj spins his favourite tunes. The chef himself was present when we came and later he rocked it out on the dance floor with his wife and young kids. An ideal combo of entertainment and truly delicious food.

Nobu Matsuhisa has a seasonal (winter) restaurant at the same hotel, but the execution is inconsistent while the prices peak high. By far, this is the weakest from all his nikkei restaurants we have been to anywhere in the world.dining St Moritz
Beyond the centre of St Moritz, creative gastronomy is served also at the two Michelin star Ecco on Snow at Giardino Mountain Hotel in Champfér.

There also a splendidly restored farmhouse (built in 1658) was transformed into an excellent Michelin restaurant Talvo by Dalsass. In the caring hands of Tyrolean chef Martin Dalsass and his son Andrea, you are for consistent, ingredient-driven, frequently updated pleasure. Olive oil lovers rejoyce as the chef pairs different Italian ones with the dishes and the lavish bread basket with the couvert of tomatoes and giant green olives.

Swiss mountain townEcco St Moritz

The Italian concierges chitchat guests into another two Michelin-starred Italian Da Vittorio at the Carlton hotel, but a disappointing meal and flimsy service during our meal a few years ago will not attract us back anytime soon. The chef cooked his ingredients without much respect, yielding taste to his ego’s originality. 

Mountain delicacies at your hand

Beyond fondue and raclette at the stüvas buy the local Engadine honey-laced walnut tart nusstorte, capuns or salzis (sausage). At Pur Alps, a gourmet store embracing local produce, much of the bounty is organic or “Demeter” (biodynamic) certified and sourced directly.

For Swiss chocolate head to the Läderach boutique in the town’s centre. My favourite slabs include the crunchy hazelnut dark chocolate, while the Grand Cru box allows for a more sophisticated cocoa bliss. Your hotel may feed you with indulgent chocolate domes on your way from the ski slopes (Badrutt’s sweet transport), or exclusive milk chocolate bars in a minibar (Suvretta House).

Aprés ski teatime

The English influence on the ski town is still rampant. An afternoon tea at any of the Grand Hotels was introduced to pamper the English guests over a century ago. Today, Russian Insta-stars (Kulm and Badrutt’s Palace), and other aspiring ladies with their entourage fill the glamorous chandelier rooms to display the opulent lobbies of the Badrutt’s Palace, Carlton, Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains and the Kulm hotels. The most classy crowd gathers at the Suvretta House, where a live piano chimes to the Western tea ritual as a chef prepares warm waffles a la minute.

fancy breakfast

Hotel breakfasts are fine affairs in St Moritz too. Badrutt’s Palace throws in a harpist, while Suvretta House focuses on more healthy, superfood breakfast. The contemporary Giardino Mountain Hotel in Champfér offers a smaller, more usual morning buffet. 

From the early hours before any activity sets you out through the warming afternoon indulgence and socialising at night, St Moritz will not disappoint you as a gourmand mountain paradise, choices abound!

Swiss mountain eats made-from-scratch to excellence at Chesa Rosatsch

The boutique hotel Chesa Rosatsch in Celerina treats athletes and food lovers who care about provenance and quality with wholesome delights. Chef Jan Gasser impeccably instructs his team at Uondas grill in a very broad menu that pleases anyone – meat-centric carnivores, sweet-loving kids and vegetarians. Together, they present a transparent offering where most ingredients’ origin is set in print and sauces, save for the ketchup are made in-house. Consistency is the hallmark of Uondas. Over the years, each winter we marvel at how perfect every single dish is. No fuss, no overt complexities, just deliciousness at its mountain best.
Swiss lifestyleEngadine
A few minutes drive or about half-an-hour signposted walk from St Moritz, deeper in the Grissons region, the painterly Engadine house roofs a trio of culinary concepts. I wrote about Stüvas, the slow-food, dinner-only restaurant. There is also traditional Swiss Heimatli. But where we eat most frequently is the Uondas Grill, where lunch is a conundrum of an efficient service, superb food preparation cum al-fresco sunshine bliss. The indulgent mountain affair attracts us each time we cross-country ski on the Swiss-perfect marathon run through the Engadine valley. Our only rule, first ski, sweat, then sit down at Uondas to replenish the burned calories. The menu is huge and teases you to come back after your plate arrives tasting so perfect, but we lunched there at least tow dozen times, tried much of it, so my review can unburden your choice.

Laced with snow capped peaks, dipping into a river that flushes the melted snow into the pristine blue lakes, Celerina is a village popular with Nordic skiers, while cyclists, runners rollerbladers take over in summer. After a morning workout outdoors a lunch at the contemporary grill is a treat, the reward for your physical effort.
tarte flambee
From the wood stove lands the best tarte flambé outside Alsace. Baked to an ultra-thin crispness with local dried venison ham when in season (otherwise imported from New Zealand), parmesan, tomato, sometimes rocket but always drizzled with olive oil, the tschierv is our favourite. In summer, when fresh figs ripen, the caprino with goat cheese, chives, pine nut and bacon is the perfect seasonal choice (in winter they use dried figs). There are also sweet, dessert versions of this crisp treat that kids will relish.
Smoked fish and meat by Patrick Marxer (his factory DasPure is in Wetzikon near Zurich) top the flambés or are served sliced with onion, giant capers, herbs and house relishes. If you, like me only eat meat occasionally, when its provenance and humane treatment of the farm animals is guaranteed, Uondas and the other restaurants at Chesa Rosatsch are your call.
mountain dining

House cellar aged prime meat at Chesa Rosatsch

Seasons are preserved by the kitchen team into aged meet, preserves, ice-cream, otherwise fresh ingredients inspire the menu.
In a specially dedicated cellar of Chesa Rosatsch dry aged (4 and up to 12 weeks) madürà” veal, beef and lamb is either chopped raw into tartars (photo bellow), grilled on lava stones to steaks or pounded to burger patties. Ageing on the bone improves the taste and tenderness of this regional, premium quality meat. The daily cuts, when mature are scribbled on a slate board with available serving sizes. Served simply with a vegetable mix, each tender chop charms with a slightly nutty flavour. To sample  order a small (35g each) tartar served three ways – all on one plate dry-aged veal, swiss prime beef and yellow tail tuna.
Swiss beef
There are many gourmet burgers. A classic beef-pork blend patty, buffalo, tuna (yellow tail from Maledives), Caesar’s rib-eye. Each with a choice from house-made spicy or mild sauce, customised as a double decker (additional burger patty for the hamburger and buffalo burger), topless without the upper bun or naked burger without any carbs. We love the Buffalo burger that is more like an extraordinary panini. A crisp ciabatta bread stuffed with Swiss buffalo patty, creamy buffalo mozzarella, tomato, leafy greens, roasted onion and a succulent house BBQ sauce. Served with ultra-thin fries, but if you prefer order any other side – my favourites are the perfectly crisp Sweet potato fries with homemade mango-curry ketchup, the grilled zucchini, pepper, olive oil and garlic in Sott’olio. The better than your average mixed leafy greens with a quite dense balsamic vinaigrette for the healthiest combo.
best burger in Switzerland

Plant-based eaters taste the world at Uondas

Vegetarians rejoyce as the Indian lentil curry with yogurt lassi, root vegetables and a juicy sprinkle of fresh pomegranate seeds is superb. A filling, wholesome, not-spicy meal. As with most dishes with two available sizes, the smaller portion is large enough (about 70% of the full portion). An Israeli shakshuka of a tomato-bell pepper gratin, chickpeas, egg and yogurt lassi. Both can be made vegan. Verdura, a quinoa bowl with goat’s cheese, chopped vegetables and pomegranate seeds is another, lighter and naturally smaller option. The cheese is from a biodynamic farm at the idyllic Silsersee lake run by Cadurisch family. The Parmigiana hot vegetables baked with parmesan cheese is a heartier side suitable as a starter. I also like the sweet potato soup that can be made without bacon. Creamy without dairy and richly nourishing.
Uondas at Chesa RosatschUondas at Chesa Rosatsch

Comfort mountain meal served fast

The clear oxtail soup with an egg feels lighter, so ideal as a mid-exercise warmer. Also the traditional Barley soup dissolves any chills within the minute your lips dip in.
From the small-sized “bowls”, my husband likes the Chicken with leafy greens, parmesan made like a Caesar salad. On a similar note is the Field salad with bacon, egg and croûtons with your choice of additions such as sautéed and sliced chicken breast or a crisp falafel. Dressed either with balsamic, Italian or French condiments. As a small snack, the fried chickpea balls (five falafels) are served with yoghurt dip. All dishes are labeled for allergens, so a gluten and lactose-free side of sott’olio – grilled zucchetti, red peppers with olive oil and garlic; the Verdura bowl and many other dishes tick the gluten-free box.
Trenette, spaghetti or malloreddus pasta (all can be made gluten-free) are served with your choice of freshly made sauce. For a table to share, the valuable three or four course menus called “tavolata” include the sweet vanilla soft-serve ice cream.
Chesa RosatchChesa Rosatsch

Swiss icy and chocolatey treats

Swiss chocolates by Laderlach (slabs sold by weight) or Uondas house-recipe vanilla soft-serve (made for them offsite) can accompany coffee. My indulgent après-ski replenisher is the affogato combo with an espresso. The chocolate changes but usually a milk with hazelnuts, caramelised nuts with dark chocolate, or 70% CABRUCA walnut (trinitario premium cacao with roasted walnut nougat) cocoa slabs are broken for your pleasure.
The lush and creamy soft-serve can be sprinkled with naughty kitchen whims – „fuatscha grassa“ bisquits, chunks of Toblerone, chocolate sauce and egg liqueur of savognin et al. or sweet delicacies from the wooden treasure box that the waiters parade around. Kid’s heaven!
Swiss chocolate
To drink, an exclusive beer is brewed in nearby Pontresina for the hotel’s three restaurants and bar at Chesa Rosatsch. Water – Allegra is served in a refillable container widespread in the Engadine cafés and restaurants. Yet, the local filtered mountain water donates  to Viva con Agua charity that supports drinking-water projects worldwide. Mountain herbs blended into warming tisanes cosy you up on the rare cold days. The sun shines through the valley for most of winter, so I feel often more like having an ice cream than schnapps with coffee or mulled wine.
mountain herb tisaneaffogato
Non-alcoholic warmers like herbal tisanes, hot ginger ginger ale (elderflower sirup, ginger and lime) or Vertschi Hugo juice from green grapes with elderflower are creative. Refreshing Swiss soft drinks like Mint with lime, the iconic sugary Rivella, Shorley an apple juice with spring water marketed as “a natural fitness drink and energizer” by Mosterei Möhl by Lake Constance or Fermented apple juice with/without alcohol join the cater-to-all concept sat Uondas. Chesa Rosatsch is indeed the “home of food” and we miss the Uondas grill whenever we leave this beautiful and remote piece of Europe.
Like elsewhere in the mountains, the provisions are expensive (mains between CHF 20 – 60 and large steak cuts will go aboard).
 daily 12noon – 11pm

Via S. Gian 7, 7505 Celerina/Schlarigna
+41 81 837 01 01

St Moritz: the birthplace of winter tourism still has it all

Precursing the conception of the Winter Olympics, savvy European jet-setters vested into the mountain oasis of St Moritz. Revelling in the pristine Alpine air, the affluent and trendy still sport their bodies and tan their faces to a beaming, magazines-filling glow. No wonder, sun is the emblem of the resort town. The panoptic Alpine resort blends Swiss precision with Italian hospitality skilfully. Come summer, fall or winter, the sunny Engadin valley lures in quality lifestyle seekers. From Italian fashion scions (Donatella Versace has house here) through London or Zurich-based CEOs, to professional athletes, St Moritz is like the year-around Aspen of Europe. Beyond Tyrolean rusticity, here the old and new money meet athletic spirit in the altitude.

winter horse raceSkying St Moritz

“Top Of The World” attitude of St Moritz in its architecture

What makes the Grisons canton gem even more attractive culturally, beyond its contemporary art galleries, vip design shows (Nomad in February), is the local rumantsch dialect (derived from old latin) still spoken and taught in schools. As in Austria, the regional pride boasts its façades in the Engadin architecture, customs, cuisine, and the local produce. Dotting the valley’s towns, settlements and villages are the protected traditional whitewashed houses with beautiful decorated with sgraffito (scratched ornament) plasterwork facades. Chesa Veglia, built in 1658 houses now a good grill restaurant and a better pizzeria is owned by the fanciest hotel in St Moritz, the Baddrutt’s Palace. Money rules, as the life here is expensive. Gucci, Loro Piana, Louis Vuitton next to Hauser & Wirth art gallery and opulent rare jewelry boutiques line the main road along the Baddrut’s. While, the indulgent breakfast buffets at the Palace are accompanied by a harpist’s strings, healthier options await at the Suvretta House.

Engadin architecturemountain hut

An antithesis to the contemporary floor to ceiling windows, the traditional mountain style is tiny, seemingly haphazard, and like gingerbread the see-through holes are laced with ornamental decor. A short drive to Champfér, a splendidly restored farmhouse (built in 1658) was transformed into an excellent Michelin restaurant Talvo by Dalsass. Since 2011 in the caring hands of Tyrolean chef Martin Dalsass and his son Andrea, for consistent, ingredient-driven pleasure and olive oil lovers, this is a must. 

Swiss AlpsMountain hut

Bookworms may be interested in visiting the original Heidi mountain hut, a well-kept example of the more humble Engadin architecture. The Public Library in the middle of town stocks you with more print, but you can sit down in the back room and read in if you feel like. A bookstore across the street sells some books in English, Italian and German.

Engadine libraryEngadiner Museum

The Leaning Tower attracts visitors to Pisa, but there is one in St Moritz, and it beats Pisa’s tilt with a 5.5 degrees! Built in 1570, this former church steeple is unmissable for architecture buffs.

Digging deeper into the regional history as a spa destination, the Forum Paracelsus (free entry) ushers you into the natural taste of the local, acidic springs. The Mauritius well from the Bronze Age was discovered around 1411 BC.

Much of the newer architecture is seamlessly built in across the Engadine, but St Moritz lost its authentic local look decades ago.

The boxy Kulm Hotel, the eccentric flying saucer named Chesa Futura by the British architect Norman Foster, and worse, the high-rising apartment buildings in St Moritz Bad spoil the congruity.

architecture St MoritzGiovanni Segantini

Two, locally-focused museums are worth visiting, if at least for their architecture. The Engadiner Museum and the rotunda-shaped Segantini Museum showing exclusively the works by local artist Giovanni Segantini. His sketch inspired the architecture of today’s museum. In the dome at the top you find the last works of the painter – The Alpine triptych of “Becoming – Being – Passing”.

Naturally blessed, the Engadin valley in winter could be painted as an endless feast of whipped cream overflowing from the crisp rocky mountain cones flipped upside down. Practically set in a triangle north-west from Milan (international travellers can land at Malpensa and drive along the Lake Como, via Lugano to St Moritz), Zurich and the Austrian Tyrols, the open Valley basks in the sunshine most days. Wind from Maloja sways the clouds from the peaks, down the slopes, whisking up the egg white snowflakes covering the lakes like fluffy meringues. Just bite. 

Swiss mountain town

A century ago you would arrive by train (Glacier and Bernina Express routes today climb to the St Moritz Dorf) and taxi around by horse carriage. We drive our car from Monaco, while private jets land from London and other affluent European destinations. A small airport stretches in the valley right next to the seemingly endless Nordic ski track lacing the Inn river. Traveling to St Moritz can turn into an adventure before you even put your ski boots on. The winter weather is laced with surprises in the mountains. Once we got stuck in the serpentines dipping deep into the ravines of the Alps, had to be towed down to safe road, while other times we simply could not drive through the narrow stretches on the Italian border side.  

Silvaplana lake

The St Moritz calendar brings European jet-setters in

There are many attractive events scheduled each year. In winter, the Polo on the Lake, the horse races, cricket, the Gourmet Festival, Red Cross Gala, Nomad design festival and other smaller art and social affairs fill up the callendar. It is a magnetising experience to watch the horses galloping on the frozen from the comfort of your balcony, so book your stay at Badrutt’s Palace ahead. In summer music enters the scene with more prominence.

Swiss churches

Winter sports in St Moritz

The stage for two Winter Olympics in 1928 and 1948 set St Moritz on the world winter sports map. The former Olympic stadium near to the Kulm Golf annually hosts high level bobsleigh (in the only natural ice channel run in the world) and ski racing competitions regularly take over the Cresta Run. The highest peak in the canton, Piz Bernina (4,049 m) is set on the border with Lombardy (Italy). Its range defines the two glacier valleys Vadret Morteratsch and Vadret Roseg, where at least under the current climatic conditions, you can heli-ski all year round. Right around St Moritz, the Corvatch (9km run), Corviglia and Diavolezza (glacier) runs are groomed for comfort. The only inconvenience for these staying in town may be taking the funicular up that runs about every 15 minutes. If you lodge at the Suvretta House (open  since 1919), their private lifts will bring you up.

St Moritz lake

The sport facilities in the region are extraordinary. Recently built Ovaverva swimming, fitness and spa (facials, massages) complex right across from the Kempinski Grand hotel has a 25m indoor swimming pool, separate children’s pool, large indoor and outdoor jacuzzis and a gym. In the building also the St Moritz cross-country ski centre is located. St Moritz prides in offering one of the best groomed scenic cross-country skiing trails in Europe if not the World and many professional athletes train here. I can easily skate on the mostly flat marathon trail snaking along the lakes and valley for hours. We prefer to drive over to Celerina or Pontresina, park our car by Chesa Rosatsch hotel, and get on the ski trails smoothly. Lunch at the hotel’s casual restaurant Uondas is our favorite apres-ski. Piste 21 further after the Engadine Airport is also good.

cross-country skying in EuropeNordic skiing

Walking trails are perfectly groomed, signposted so anyone can stroll across the Lake St Moritz to the forested valley and a small lake that is great for swimming in the summer. Passing giant ice-sickles sculpted into anything creatively attractive that a man’s handwork can conceive, it is an intriguing walk. Dog walkers love the vastness of possibilities. In the opposite direction heading across the Silvaplana Lej (Lake) will take you under the Diavolezza glacier. Uphill, taking the Via Alpina you can hike up to your lunch on the mountain. For dining options check my article Gourmet’s Paradise in St Moritz.

The luxe travellers keep easily fit during the rare rainy or stormy days since each of the grand hotels has a great gym, saunas, and a large spa area. Even those on the budget accommodation find sauna in their bed and breakfast quite often.

walking in the winter AlpsSt Moritz luxury

Summer activities in the Alpine setting

In the Gilded Challet, Padraig Rooney writes: “Switzerland is partly a creation of our own guilt and desires: freedom, fresh air, money, corruption, chocolate, a winter holiday, heaven on earth. It’s the playground for Europe, far from prying eyes, where royalty go skiing, former royalty hide out, and collapsed dictators count their filthy lucre.” Nowhere is this as evident as in St Moritz. Unlike most ski holiday destinations, St Moritz attracts visitors also during the warm months. As the frozen lakes melt and the sunrays halo the warmer days, St Moritz transforms into a golfers turf and draws youth to its music festivals. Most hotels reopen in June after a short, muddy late spring break, the summer logistics are set for you. The Nordic ski trails turn into safe biking routes and smooth, paved roads along the river draw in rollerbladers, while the gushing rivers invite for rafting. The ski slopes transform into steep hiking and mountain biking and the lakes lend this eden to sailers, windsurfers.

St Moritz lifestyleBadrutt's Palace Hotel in St Moritz

Luxury accommodation

The historic Suvretta House offers superb more natural views away from the action of St Moritz. It’s pool is large, the ice skating ring like at Badrutt’s and Kulm hotel open for the guests, but as a popular conference venue today, the food at the Grand Restaurant is mediocre and outdated. The only luxurious hotel on the lake is the Grand Hotel Kronenhof, but in terms of comfort and quality the Badrutt’s Palace wins over the competitive set.

The Giardino Mountain Hotel in Champfer has the most contemporary interiors and the spa is superb, but the quality is not at the level of the Palace, which also offers the best views over the St Moritz lake and best dining in town. 

”Switzerland has always provided something of a refuge for writers – from war, oppression, tuberculosis and even marriage – as well as an inspiration to them too”, wrote the The Bookseller. The culturally broad yet politically neutral cantons offer plenty to the savvy travellers today, but St Moritz has it all, authentically evolving with the needs of the people occupying its hotel rooms.

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