A taste of the Swiss
By Sandhya Iyer - KOCHI
11th August 2012 10:38 AM
In what can be described as a lip-smacking prospect, five chefs from a celebrated Swiss restaurant, Haus Hiltl are in Kochi to cook up an exclusive five-course vegetarian dinner at Casino Hotel. Founded in 1898, Haus Hiltl acquires its fame as Europe’s celebrated restaurant that attracts an average of 2500 guests daily.
The restaurant has an all-veg menu, covering everything from Continental to European to Indian. The last figures quite prominently, keeping in mind the growing number of Indians traveling to Zurich. Yet, the Indian menu at Haus Hiltl largely comprises of North Indian food. The chefs say they aren’t really acquainted with South Indian dishes. Which is why when the opportunity to travel to Kochi came up, the chefs were most excited.
At the moment, all five master chefs Pascal Haag, Dorrit Voigt, Anna Schlatter, Renate Drabek and Wolfgang Potzmann have been enjoying their time in the city, feasting on dosas and vadas. “The chutneys and curries here are delicious. We plan to introduce many of these dishes at our restaurant,” says chef Pascal Haag.
While the chefs are thrilled with their learning experience in Kochi, they are also keen to share their expertise. The dinner at Casino Hotel is a showcase of that, where guests will be treated to a few hand-picked Swiss delicacies. Pascal gives us the menu. “There will be ‘Safran-Vegetable-Tatar’ made out of quark cheese, cottage cheese, vegetables and bugeete bread. Then there is ‘tomato-orange-soup’, ‘Swiss carrot salad’, a refreshing mix of garden fresh veggies, olive oil, orange juice and mayo. The main course will have an exclusive pasta dish, and finally Swiss chocolate mousse for dessert.”
Vegetarian food, says Pascal, is growing in appeal the world over. “We use a lot fresh herbs, and spices, and that invariably makes the food very tasty. There is so much one can do with veg food, and it is not at all dull as some people believe,” he says.
Yet, keeping vegetarian food interesting in any part of Europe is a challenge, says Pascal. The chefs naturally experiment and innovate a lot. “We look for a lot of meat alternatives. We use tofu and corn instead, and it turns out great,” he says.
In spite of the demand, there still aren’t enough veg joints in Europe, says Pascal. “I don’t know why, but they just don’t have enough ideas for vegetarian food. Of course, things have become better in the last few years, but there is still so little in veg here. Many people are turning to vegan food, and in any case, one doesn’t have non-veg all three times a day. Hence many of our regular customers are non-vegetarians who come wanting to eat something delicious in veg,” he says.
So are the five chefs specialising in veg food vegetarians too? Pascal laughs, “Two us are vegetarians. I am not. I call myself a Flexitarian.”
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