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Saturday, 10 October, 2015, 17 : 30 PM [IST]

Gastronomic Delight in Switzerland

MasterChef Travel by Cox & Kings showcases culinary trails for the travel trade to explore
The first leg of the culinary Grand Tour of Switzerland along with MasterChef Kunal Kapur created the appetite for more of this amazing destination. To satiate the same, Cox & Kings, through its property, MasterChef Travel, took the travel trade media on the second leg of the tour, with MasterChef Shipra Khanna onboard. The tour, from April 21-25, covered the eastern side of Switzerland. TravelBiz Monitor, in the last of the 2-part series, presents highlights of the tour from Schaffhausen to Lugano

While the first half of the Swiss tour covered the serene tourist attractions on the western side, and gave a glimpse of the lip-smacking delicacies of those destinations, the second half highlighted the colourful eastern side and the local mouthwatering cuisines. The second leg of the tour covered Schaffhausen, St. Gallen, Bad Ragaz, Appenzell, St. Moritz, Engadine Valley, Lugano, Locarno, and Ascona.

After having left off at Zurich in the first leg of the tour, the second leg started off from Schaffhausen. The group was taken on a guided trip around the ‘Schloss Laufen’, with the exhibition in the north wing of the castle, which dates back to the year 1843, and the Rhine Falls - the biggest waterfalls in Europa (around 700,000 ltr of water per second, a width of 150 mtr, and a height of 23 mtr). A ‘Weidling’ boat will take one to the rock in the centre of the Falls, where one can walk to the top of the rock. The stairs to the top of the rock can by slippery, therefore comfortable walking shoes are recommended.

St. Gallen & Bad Ragaz
The next halt was St. Gallen, where the group stopped by for lunch at the excursion restaurant, Unterer Brand. This restaurant is an ideal place to refuel oneself after a hiking trip in the old town of St. Gallen. The delectable spread available at this charming little restaurant includes many rustic specialties, but the Barlauchravioli Pasta (ravioli) made from fresh ingredients, handpicked from the farm, undoubtedly steals the show. The wild garlic, especially used in this dish, makes a vivid centre for the ravioli.

Generous serving of Gemischter Salat (German salad made using farm-grown eggs, mayo, and lettuce dressed with sweet vinaigrette), further elevates the flavours of the ravioli. For dessert, the local specialty, Biberfladen (Swiss gingerbread filled with almond paste) is a musttry. When in the rural German world of St. Gallen Canton, do not miss to visit the beautiful St. Gallen village, and the little spa town of Bad Ragaz situated in the Rhine Valley. While St. Gallen is renowned for Abbey of Saint Gall, Bad Ragaz is trademarked with natural springs of therapeutic water.

Right from the 13th century, Bad Ragaz has witnessed pilgrims visiting to bathe in the thermal waters, which gushes from the nearby Tamina spring. It is believed to be enriched with balanced minerals, offering comprehensive well-being. Today, Bad Ragaz has earned a position among the top tourist attractions in Switzerland.

For the culinary delights here, explore the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, which will transport you to a world where skill and authentic diversity tantalise one’s taste buds. The property houses 8 restaurants, which serve rich and varied gourmet cuisine in a stylish atmosphere. Holder of 17 Gault Millau points and one Michelin star, virtuoso chef Roland Schmid creates authentic, refined gourmet dishes. One of these restaurants, the Äbtestube, has a topclass and cosy atmosphere, matching the style of the restored Palais building that dates back to the 18th century. At the Resort, Chef Khanna presented her book of recipes, ‘The Spice Route’.

Strolling along the main street of Appenzell village is nothing less than stepping into a fairy tale, with its glittering, mirror-like lakes, colourful houses, serene valleys, crystal-clear springs, and friendly people. This gorgeous village is located against the backdrop of rolling hills at the foot of the majestic Alpstein Mountains in northeast Switzerland.

To complement the picturesque setting, Appenzell is abuzz with rural customs, traditions, and cultural events throughout the year. A trip around this timeless village on foot rewards one with unbelievably beautiful vistas.

St. Moritz & Engadine Valley
Located in the canton of Graubunden in southeast Switzerland, the untouched Engadine Valley is trademarked with breathtaking views, stone-built houses, and picturesque villages. Engadine is also dominated by the gorgeous resort town of St. Moritz. Since 1864, this location has been a favourite among royals and celebrities, with its glittering lakes, enchanting forests, and views of the Alpine mountain.

A visit to St. Moritz is incomplete without a skiing experience. An aerial cable car from the bottom station of the Diavolezza aerial cableway transports one to Berghaus Diavolezza. This natural amphitheatre is situated almost 3,000 mtr above sea level, amid the icy peaks of Bernina Massif. Through the cable car ride, the stunning panoramic views of the Swiss Eastern Alps make for an unmatched sight. Also, do watch the snowy white peaks, and glittering glaciers that pass by while skiing down the mountain.

At the Sun Terrace Diavolezza, Engadine Valley, behind the waiter-service tables, the snow- and ice-capped peaks of the Bernina Massif are reflected in the huge glass windows. For those who prefer a lavish buffet have a variety to choose from on the menu, while enjoying the magnificent views all around. Here, Chef Khanna created a new recipe, ‘SwissInd Chicken’, offering the best of both worlds.

Just 20 minutes away from St. Moritz, in the lovely town of Zuoz, is Klarer - a charming family-run hotel. Basking in the glory of Swiss traditions and French elegance, this hotel stands in a 500-year-old Engadine-style building. Furnished with wooden furniture, antiques, and memorabilia, no two rooms look alike. The restaurant prepares its dishes with fresh ingredients. The local specialties served include Capuns, Bizochels, and various rosti dishes. At La Cave Cachee (the hotel’s wine cellar), one can try the finest French wines. There is also the restaurant’s own patisserie.

Lugano, Locarno & Ascona
The spectacular towns of Lugano, Locarno, and Ascona together epitomise the essence of Switzerland. A maze of cobblestone streets dotted with chic boutiques, parks, bars, and pavement cafes make up Lugano. Famous for its Mediterranean flair and flowery promenade, this town is Switzerland’s third-most important banking centre. Here, the star attraction is the Swissminiatur, which features remakes of famous buildings, models of train, funiculars, and cableways in miniature.

Located approximately 45 km away is the town of Locarno. Since the 19th century, this town has been attracting visitors, thanks to its pleasant weather, and picturesque setting on the shore of Lake Maggiore. Recognised as the most perfect lake town, Ascona is characterised by palm trees, pristine lake waters, and rugged mountain ranges. Michelin-starred restaurants, golf courses, boutiques, galleries, and antique shops further enhance its charm.

Blessed with a scenic setting, Farm Terreni alla Maggia is spread across 150 hectares of land on the shores of the Maggi River. It welcomes tourists with a range of wholesome, organic produce - from chicken, fruits, soy, corn, pasta, flour, and cornmeal mush, to wine and beer. The Loto rice, secret to Ticino’s mouth-watering risotto, is also cultivated on the properties of this beautiful farm.

After exploring the rice fields, head for the vineyards and the wine cellar. Experience a delicious combination of Swiss cheese, and some of the finest French wines. For those who love whisky, the farm (sole manufacturer of whisky in Ticino) offers the opportunity to sample the goodness of their rich single malt. While the guided tour ensures you experience the best of Farm Terreni alla Maggia, their shop helps you pick organically grown products to take back home.

With magnificent views of Ceresio and Lugano to give you company, while you savour the chef’s divine creations, it’s not difficult to understand why Grotto San Rocco is a tourist favourite. Here, one can wine and dine in a typical grotto setting with a menu full of Ticino specialties. Options like asparagus salad with strawberries and cured ham, and caramelised apple may leave you a few notches wider on your belt, but truly satisfied.

The simple, yet absolutely resplendent, strawberries with cream for dessert should not be missed. The highlight of Grotto San Rocco is its risotto workshop. Here, guests have the opportunity to cook their very own risotto under the guidance of chefs, and amid an enchanting view on the grotto’s sun terrace. A visit to Grotto San Rocco offers a seamless blend of fine hospitality, scrumptious food, and magnificent vistas.
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