A Love Affair with Swiss Cuisine

Dr. Nestor Alonso II (The Freeman) - August 30, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Switzerland celebrates its National Day every August 1, to commemorate the independence of the Swiss Confederation from the House of Hapsburg. Hans Hauri, former GM of Marco Polo Cebu Plaza who is a Swiss national, decided to celebrate the Swiss Independence Day here in Cebu City. This year is the 13th year of these celebrations as part of the hotel’s Culinary Journeys, and GM Brian Connelly has decided to continue this tradition of “Swissness from A to Z” at the Café Marco.

I am fortunate to have joined 12 of the 13 celebrations; I did miss it in 2010 because I was on holiday abroad. Aboard a Euro train from Paris to Florence, the train conductor announced that there would be a 10-minute stop. I saw the yellow international line and, to my pleasant surprise, we were in Switzerland. I could not resist crossing it and I was in Switzerland, at least for a minute!

At the eve of Swiss National Day here, cheeses were served like the Gouda, Gruyere and Emmentaler. There would be no Swiss Food Festival without cheese served, in one form or the other. The Live Cooking had a Raclette Section with the Electric Table-Top Grill to melt cheese and drip it over potatoes, and the Fondue Section, where you’d dip the bread or potatoes in melted cheese. I got only two small pieces of potato, then dipped one with Raclette cheese and the other piece in melted Gruyere. Cheeses could be too filling and there was so much more food to taste.

Another must in Swiss festivals are cold cuts and at the Swiss Independence Day event were served Bündnerfleisch (air-dried Grisons beef), Landjäger (semi-dried sausage), Bresaola (air dried salted beef), Farmers’ Ham, Tiroler Mountain Sausage and Beer Sausage Sticks. I tried the Landjäger and the Bresaola (small slices only, honest!) before tasting other sausages like the Kielbasa, Schublig, Veal Bratwurst, Frankfurter and Weinerli.

Salads were on display. I took tiny portions of the Brown Lentil Salad with Chard Cheese, Beetroot Salad with Citrus Caraway Dressing, Green Beans & Bacon Salad and the Cervelat & Emmentalier Gherkin Salad with Onion Chives. There was so much food to taste, so Goodbye soup and Hello delicious meats in the Carving Section like Roast Pork, Beef, Chicken and the Fleischkase (Meat Loaf). The Loaf with the Onion Sauce taste better than the Roast meats.

Main Dishes served were the following: Zurich Style Pork Emince, Grison Beef Stew, Chicken in Mushroom Leek Sauce, Braise Beef Tongue with Onion Port Wine Sauce, Alplemagronnen (Baked Macaroni with Smoked Ham), Bacon & Cheese Quiche and Poached Fish in White Wine Sauce. The Chicken and the Quiche were the better tasting dishes in this year Swiss Festival.

For Desserts, I had some fresh fruits before selecting which cake (from among Swiss Chocolate & Strawberry Roll, Cherry Flan, Swiss Caramel Roll or Walnut Cake) to try.  I decided to taste all the beautiful desserts, excuse me, with a little help from my media dinner mates. The Swiss Chocolate & Strawberry Roll was truly delicious!

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