Dinner at the Hotel Schweizerhof
in St. Moritz,
Switzerland, was a tad formal — starched white linens, immaculate flatware and glassware, a candle on each table, a very young but very correct waitress — and I note this as a comment, not a complaint. A slice of venison sausage with goat cheese came out as an amuse bouche.
The scallop carpaccio consisted
of sliced scallops atop a mixed salad with red and yellow peppers and eggplant on the side. A long-braised beef dish called Tafelspitz is
a Viennese specialty popular throughout
central Europe. The Schweizerhof’s version consisted of two generous slices beef with parsleyed
potatoes, spinach and a pitcher of smooth horseradish sauce on the side. The black potato gnocchi was braised, along with a touch of greens and moist prawns. the assemblage was mounded into a pyramid shape, napped with mild pesto and garnished with whole basil leaves and finely chopped tomatoes. We sipped Schloss Salnegg
2002 chardonnay with our dinner.
The mountain known as the Corvatsch
provided the only even vaguely decent skiing of the whole trip on a
handful of runs accessed by the first stage of the cable car. The second stage was also operating just so that guests could take in the grandiose views and eat lunch in the Stuebli
Panorama Restaurant. Warm bread and sweet butter were the prelude for and accompaniment to the local air-dried beef that is known as Buendnerfleisch
in Switzerland and bresaola
across the border in Italy. it was followed by a choice of a hearty vegetable soup with barley or a tomato soup with croutons and a float of olive oil and cream. The entree choice was fabulous spaghetti either Bolognese
or marinara, each with a pesto frill around the rim of the soup plate. Dessert was a to-die-for chestnut cake (photo top right)
sliced star fruit and Chinese gooseberry as garnishes.
The Chesa Veglia
, now in the heart of chic St. Moritz, was built
as farmhouse in 1770 — six years before the Declaration of
Independence. It is now an stylishly rustic restaurant where a dozen of us sampled a procession of specialties, encouraged by flowing Malanese pinot grigio. Every single offering was well prepared, so I present only a list — those items that I managed to jot down, in any case.
To start: Arugula salad. Sliced Salmon with artichokes. Tomato-mozzarella caprese. Polenta with wild mushrooms. Buendnerfleisch.
Pizzas (hand-tossed and cooked in a wood-fired brick oven,
photo, center right
): Margarita (tomato-mozzarella-
photo, bottom right). Cheese and black truffles (not as photogenic as the margarita but about the best pizza I’ve ever
had; despite the bounty, I ate two slices). “Napolese” with
mushrooms and anchovies. Quattro staggione (cheese, mushrooms, olives, sausage). Vegetarian (eggplant, zucchini, yellow peppers). Entrees: Entrecote. Grilled lamb chops. Small roasted chicken. Side dishes: Baked potatoes with rosemary. Roasted vegetables. Dessert: Tiramisu. Panacotta. Fresh fruits. House-made ice cream. Little baked things. Burp!
The next day, because it was raining in St. Moritz and wet snow was falling in the mountains, three of us who opted to stay in town had lunch at the Cafe Hauser
, a classic European patisserie, confectionary
shop, coffee house and restaurant. Soups, sandwiches
, light meals and children’s selections dominated the lunch menu. The fennel soup was rich and creamy. Roesti,
the classic Swiss specialty of pan-cooked slivered potatoes, cannot be considered a light dish, even with warm sliced salmon on top (photo left)
. Round ricotta- and herb-filled We shared a charming little stainless steel dish of panacotta
for dessert. Most of our selections weren’t light, nut the cafe did
have light fare for those who wanted it.
, just across the border in Italy, not surprisingly puts more emphasis on Italian classics and no Austrian specialties — and Buendnerfleisch
has become bresaola.
We ate a big square table at the Hotel de
dining room, where the food was house-made and simple but quite good. The salad bar was outstanding, with an array of produce and condiments and a fleet of olive oil and vinegar bottles so that every diner could select his or her favorite combination. No bottled French or ranch dressings here! The skiing in Livingo
was so marginal that the lift company didn’t charge for the three little lifts and two short runs that were open. The intrepid skiers and snowboarders toughed it out on that one run, barely covered with hard snow, with a occasional drizzle. I wandered around town and met my colleagues for a casual al fresco
lunch before heading across another border to Austria.
I knew that dinner at the Hotel St. Antonerhof
would be extraordinary when I saw the table covered with a lace cloth and illuminated by white tapers, and each place set with four forks, four knives and two spoons (photo left)
. My documentation compulsion failed me somewhere along the way. The dinner began with an appetizer of sushi-grade tuna, chopped and sliced, with horseradish sauce served on a glass plate with a frosted rim. It finished with an obscene tower of dark chocolate filled silky mountains and surrounded by delicious nibbles.
Throughout, the Austrian wines flowed, the conversation hummed, and my notebook, pen and even camera didn’t see much action. In hindsight, I wish I had taken more notes and more pictures. I guess I’ll just have to return.