S. Pellegrino Sapori Ticino is a gourmet festival with star allure: 36 Michelin stars in total distinguish 21 chefs, each representing one of 21 deluxe hotels that themselves bear the five-star seal of approval.
At 26 events throughout Switzerland, these emissaries present the exalted cuisine of Ticino. Three of them, however, took place outside Switzerland’s sunny southern canton. So, it came that in the city of Berne I, too, got the chance to reach for the stars!
After the Dolder Grand Hotel in Zurich, next it was the turn of the Bellevue Palace in Berne before the feast would move to Geneva’s Le Richemond. In this version, the series of events is called “Serate Oltre Gottardo” (“Evenings beyond Gotthard mountain”).
Dany Stauffacher, Sapori Ticino’s initiator and CEO, had invited a high-powered group of sponsors to cop a preview taste of the Ticino gourmet events. By some miracle, I had also received an invitation. Sometimes running a travel blog does come in handy ;-) So, I make like a discerning food blogger and try to blend in unobtrusively with the other guests.
Fine and dandy, but with our giant telephoto lenses in front of our faces we do tend to stand out. But that at least they put us food bloggers all at one table is a good thing. This way, no one has to wait for us until we have the food porn in our shutter boxes…
The Gault Millau Chefs
The culinary arts this evening emanate from downstairs: While we are still studying how to compensate for the difficult lighting conditions, toiling in the canteen kitchen of the Bellevue Palace one floor below are three chefs that dazzle with Gault Millau points: Chefs Egidio Iadonisi from the Swiss Diamond Hotel in Vico Morcote, Andrea Bertarini from the Conca Bella in Chiasso, and Frank Oerthle from the Galleria Arté al Lago in Lugano.
And soon, it’s kick off time! To simplify things, I will edit out here the many apéro tidbits we were served. There is still plenty of high quality to come…
Case in point: the amuse bouche, a brittle-covered dough ball by Andrea Bertarini turns out to be a visual marvel: After I photographed it as a pristine sphere, I’m about to reach for knife and fork to please my palate, when I notice that my tablemate Carmen has broken hers open and is still photographing it.
That looks even more appetizing!
Since my own serving is already irredeemably and unphotogenically demolished, I make use of the already mentioned telescopic lens and, sheepishly smiling, lean over into Carmen’s plate. But then, we food bloggers have this mutual understanding ;-)
So, I’m still able to enjoy the fine arugula and cream cheese.
This little interlude furnishes plenty of fodder for small talk, so much so that we’re nearly taken unawares by the entree appearing. But, our cameras being practically never quite out of reach, we recover almost immediately and start clicking away. Egidio Iadosoni surprised us with red shrimp from Mazara del Vallo. Sensational, with caviar, burrata, and liquid salad(!)
The entree: Shrimp from Mazara del Vallo
The shrimp are practically raw. It is not everyone’s thing, as we notice around us. I, for one, find them very tasty. So much so, that afterwards I had to google where in the world this Mazara del Vallo might be? Aha, there it is: they are caught off southwest Sicily. Or maybe they farm them there; I can’t quite make out which.
Whatever. Here comes the next course from Andrea Bertarini, who treats us to a risotto gran riserva gallo with “Bosco di Palli” asparagus (from Piemont), cocoa beans, and the obligatory lemon. This time, I can’t think of a clever perspective to make the fine dish visually interesting — even on Carmen’s plate. Somehow, it is just too round on the round plate.
At this point, let it suffice to say that they know how to make risotto in Ticino. Even if the gallo is really an Italian, in the nearby Terreni alla Maggia by Ascona the Ticino people command their exclusive own area for growing the rice. We had Chef Mattias Roock of Castello del Sole in Ascona demonstrate the benefit this brings on another, spectacular occasion. Incidentally, on May 22, 2017, as part of Sapori Ticino, he will host Lionello Cera of the Antica Osteria Cera from Venice.
Verdict on the main course: it’s hog heaven!
As the evening’s high point, Frank Oerthle has prepared “the best of beer-fed pork.” Thus it is described on the menu. Finely arranged with creamy chorizo sauce and smoked potato foam. Even if you are not a beer lover, do not pass up pig that has been raised on beer yeast and its lees! You will be in hog heaven, guaranteed!
Phuh! Let’s take a little break! The courses may be suitably light; but I have room left for just a small dessert at most…
The final “rounding out”: dessert
… and the dessert also comes to us in an unconventional guise: somehow, Lucas Meier, sous-chef at the Bellevue Palace, has managed to keep a transparent, wafer-thin ice shell ball from melting, apparently for all guests. This time, I watch Carmen’s sculpting skills before I destroy my serving. It’s possible to learn, after all…
But, maybe I just don’t have the knack, or the ice melted too quickly, or I need more practice — in any event, Carmen once again has the more beautiful plate. With another “beg your pardon,” I lean over just a tad.
The things we go through just for the sake of getting a clean report to our hungry readers…
The iced ball with yuzu-woodruff seasoned zabaglione, mountain honey ice cream and red berries perfectly rounds out the meal. And threatens to turn me into a ball as well.
I truly ought to pass up what comes next as the chocolatier from Cailler starts building his friandise towers. Well, I must confess, I did find one or two pieces irresistible in the end. You can’t be inhumane with yourself, after all…
Sapori Ticino gatherings between April 3rd through June 18, 2017
The gourmet occasions of S. Pellegrino Sapori Ticino are recommended for everyone! The best way to enjoy them is to combine one or more with a restorative stay in Ticino, also known as Switzerland’s “sun porch.”
…ah! before I forget, what with all the alcohol: the wine accompaniment naturally also comes from Ticino. To be exact, from Swiss Premium Wine! The four guys from Quattromani do a super job!
For booking one of the gourmet experiences, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out their program here.
Prices range from CHF 70.- for the Lounge Nights and CHF 390.-, when Franck Giovannini of the Hôtel de Ville de Crissier showcases his 3 Michelin stars in Ticino.
My thanks go to:
- Dany Stauffacher for organizing the event; highly successful!
- Paulo Zenz and Bruno Wirz of Barino Consulting for the fine invitation! and the stimulating table conversation ;-)
- A special thanks to host and hotel director Urs Bührer: he personally identified his colleagues in my photographs ;-)
- Also, a big thank you to Carmen Sirboiu of NewInZurich.com for generously making her food stylings available to me. Obviously, I still have much to learn here…
- And, finally, mille grazie also to Rémy Steinegger of steineggerpix.com for the snapshot!