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A 60th birthday deserves to be celebrated!

The exclusive hotel association Relais & Châteaux shares the sentiment and launches its first Gourmet Festival in Switzerland. We went to the IN LAIN Hotel Cadonau to partake of the diamond jubilee menu. Watch this…

Relais & Châteaux Gourmet Festival

Relais & Châteaux pulls out all the stops to celebrate its 60th birthday – not just for a day, but better yet all year long in different venues worldwide.

To celebrate the jubilee, Relais & Châteaux cooked up the Gourmet Festival. This made sense, since the gourmet restaurants and hotels that belong to the association all lay claim to high gastronomic distinction. In Switzerland, the Gourmet Festival stops in a number of member properties.

The Grands Chefs from each of two renowned properties together with their teams regale a small gathering of guests with culinary delicacies. The events take place all year round in diverse member properties in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

60 years Relais & Châteaux gourmet festival

On July 19th, it was the turn of the IN LAIN Hotel Cadonau in the Engadin. Host and Grand Chef Dario Cadonau held court, joined by guest Chef Heribert Dietrich from the Walserhof in Klosters. These gifted chefs gave their all to conjure up one culinary delight after another on their guests’ plates – paired with the choicest of wines, naturally…

Grand Chef Dario Cadonau and guest Chef Heribert Dietrich at the Gourmet Festival in Brail

Grand Chef Dario Cadonau and guest Chef Heribert Dietrich at the Gourmet Festival in Brail

Both gourmet chefs are each proud holders of 15 Gault Millau points and 1 Michelin star. These two have met their equal in each other!

Imagine that a Relais & Châteaux-style Gourmet Festival goes something like this:



Starters

The guests at this gourmet event were greeted in the comfortable lounge, where they were also served the aperitif: A millefeuille with melon and goat cheese, quail with onion, and ham on home-baked bread, accompanied by Pommery champagne.

This starter at once made a promise and made you “wish for more”…

Pommery champagne and seductive amuse bouches

Pommery champagne and seductive amuse bouches

The jubilee menu that followed was served in the Restaurant VIVANDA. The IN LAIN Hotel’s comfortable upscale gourmet restaurant is in the hotel’s main building, an Engadin house dating back 450 years.

No sooner had we taken our places at table, mini buns enhanced by diverse condiments made the rounds, including curry and black sesame, tomatoes with a dusting of mozzarella or pumpkin seeds. Served on a hot stone! How ‘cool’ is that?

Pumpkin seed bun, curry bun and tomato bun with mozzarella dust

Pumpkin seed bun, curry bun and tomato bun with mozzarella dust

A basil brioche quaintly served in a ramekin-like little flower pot complemented the mini bun trilogy.

For seasoning to taste, there were Italian olive oil, butter and variety of salts. Really special was the salt mixed with Tasmanian pepper! This is Grand Chef Dario Cadonau’s preferred pepper…

The Jubilee Menu

The first course was all about Alpine salmon: Heribert Dietrich presented a marinated, smoked Arctic char poached in olive oil on absinthe ice cream. What made it really special on top of the flavor combination was the temperature contrast. Cool ice cream with the warm fish… unexpectedly heavenly!

Alpine salmon: Warm Arctic char with cold absinthe ice cream

Alpine salmon: Warm Arctic char with cold absinthe ice cream

Dario Cadonau’s first course was a marinated sea bream with tomato marmalade, dried olives, pesto cream, tomato foam and tomato ice cream. A dish with Mediterranean flair high up in the Engadin Mountains.

Marinated sea bream with sides

Marinated sea bream with tomato marmalade, dried olives, pesto cream, tomato foam and tomato ice cream

Next appeared tepid smoked sturgeon from the Bernese Oberland, served with mashed mountain potatoes, an egg yolk poached in olive oil (is that what makes it so red?) and OONA caviar.

Heribert Dietrich swears by the distinctive taste of the mountain potato that these days is only cultivated in small quantities. And, yes, the “mini mashed potatoes” unleashed a mountain of taste!

Smoked sturgeon from the Bernese Highlands

Smoked sturgeon from the Bernese Highlands

A cup of frothy cream soup made from the purple haze carrot and calf’s head praline provided a brief interlude before the ricotta tortellini with eggplant caviar, chive beurre blanc and phyllo pastry chip materialized on our table.

Ricotta tortellini with eggplant caviar

Ricotta tortellini with eggplant caviar

The main course, a tender Angus filet on red pepper purée with jacket potatoes, celery and artichokes tasted out of this world!

Angus filet on red pepper purée

Wonderfully tender Angus filet on red pepper purée

The two gourmet chefs had also planned something exquisite for dessert; Dietrich had a fluffy cheese dumpling on strawberry-mezereon compote and sour cream ice cream prepared.

Cheese dumpling on strawberry-mezereon compote and sour cream ice cream

Cheese dumpling on strawberry-mezereon compote and sour cream ice cream

Cadonau opted for an inspired chocolate space ball made with chocolate mousse, ganache, ice cream, brownies and beaten egg white. Just thinking of the brittle makes our tongues tingle today still! Or in our memory, at least…

Chocolate mousse, ganache, ice cream, brownie and beaten egg white

A slightly “spaced out” dessert with chocolate to spare

We ended the day where it had started, in the comfortable bar lounge with fireplace. With the coffee we enjoyed a noble, 60-year old port and friandises artistically arranged in a “flower box” with lemon marshmallows, praliné in cherry blossom, almond cookie and summer punch. How original!

Davidoff supplied the fine smoke to round it all out.

Friandises in the flowerbox

Friandises in the “flowerbox”

What a flowery denouement for this wonderful evening! The world class gourmet menu with its daring contrasts held many delightful surprises in store for us.

Heartiest congratulations to the two Grands Chefs Dario Cadonau und Heribert Dietrich, both of whom have been elected to “Young Restaurateurs of Switzerland.”

Incidentally, on September 7, 2014 the next Gourmet Festival takes place in the Walserhof with Heribert Dietrich in Klosters. The guest chef will be – surprise, surprise – his colleague Dario Cadonau from IN LAIN…

The wine pairing

Stefan Huwiler of the wine dealership Valentin Wine designed the wine pairings. Between courses, he explained the terroir and characteristics of his wines.
For the appetizers, he decanted a Sauvignon Blanc from the Trentino (South Tyrol), followed by a French Côte d’Or chardonnay from Burgundy.

He transitioned us to the red wine with a red from the Bündner Herrschaft, a Fläscher Pinot Noir Reserve, aged 12 months in the oak barrel, with a complex bouquet and subtle toasty aromas.

Whites and reds from the wine degustation

Whites and reds from the wine degustation

For the main course, Stefan Huwiler selected a Sassella San Lorenzo, Valtellina Superiore from the Veltlin. With its bouquet of cherries, dried fruits and cloves it harmoniously complemented the Angus filet.

Sassella San Lorenzo, Valtellina Superiore from the Veltlin

Sassella San Lorenzo, Valtellina Superiore from the Veltlin

Dessert was sweetened with a Moscato d’Asti from the Piedmont.

The Gourmet Festival was a first rate experience with many impressions gathered and a wonderful atmosphere – absolutely worth recommending!

Cheese cellar next to Restaurant Vivanda

Cheese cellar next to Restaurant Vivanda

The IN LAIN Hotel Cadonau

After such a sense-beguiling gourmet evening, it was impossible to drive anywhere. And so we used the occasion to overnight in the hotel and the next day to poke around this charming boutique hotel managed by Tamara and Dario Cadonau. Here are a few images of what we found:

Our thanks go to…

Warm thanks to Tamara and Dario Cadonau for the generous invitation and to their entire team for their hospitality!

Also deserving praise is the alert service team, for their always friendly and attentive table magic and their charming ripostes to my tired jokes.

Many thanks also to Sabine Biedermann of PrimCom for brokering this stay!

Spectacular!

About The Author

Walter Schaerer’s extensive background in the travel industry, passionate enthusiasm for photography and a firm belief that luxury destinations can also be affordable; were some of the main factors that motivated him to create the travel blog travelmemo.com.

2 comments

  1. Well, all the dishes are very special and new, you can see the chefs are young and very creative.
    A very nice Gourmet experience

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