A 45-kilogram half-wheel of Emmental cheese greeted select guests at Marco Polo Ortigas as a 14-member Swiss Army Band performed traditional music. The ballroom’s ceiling was adorned with red flags with white crosses. The only thing missing, perhaps, was a view of the majestic Alps, but there was no denying this was to be a very Swiss affair.
“We want to showcase the diversity of Swiss food, besides cheese and fondue,” Raoul Imbach, deputy head of mission of the Embassy of Switzerland in the Philippines, told Manila Standard.
“Swiss cuisine is very good quality for money. We hope that more authentic Swiss restaurants will open here in the Philippines, and that we can grow and prosper together. There is a lot of good things in store for the Philippines and Switzerland,” he added.
Swiss food is influenced by French, German and Italian cuisines, building on staple produce from farming communities such as potatoes and cheese, which is such a big part of the Swiss heritage, with dairy farms concentrated in the alpine areas.
According to Imbach, there are three dishes that any visitor to Switzerland must try: polenta, Zürcher geschnetzeltes served with roesti and papet vaudois.
Polenta, hailing from the Italian-speaking region, is a traditional cornmeal dish cooked into a thick, hearty porridge. In winter, this rustic cuisine is usually served with either savory braised beef or rabbit.
Zürcher geschnetzeltes is an iconic national dish that is heavily influenced by German cuisine. Also usually served during the colder season, it is made of sliced veal with kidneys sautéed in a gravy of onions, butter, white wine, cream and mushrooms. It comes with roesti, thinly grated potatoes fried until crisp and golden.
Papet vaudois, from Vaud, the French-speaking region of Switzerland, is best described as sausage cooked with leeks and potatoes that have been stewed for hours. It is an earthy dish that complements the Swiss sausage’s strong flavors.
Marco Polo Ortigas’ general manager, Frank Reichenbach, said it’s only proper to shine the spotlight on Swiss cuisine, which he described as diverse, just like the Swiss culture.
“I am a Swiss national. I was raised and grew up in Switzerland. It is a country that is known for its stunning mountains and majestic views. Through its towns lie and live the culture of Switzerland, something that is simple, but rich, just like our food,” said Reichenbach. (He, however, had to apologize as the event started an hour late – “Not very Swiss,” he said.)
The hotel’s All Things Swiss celebration will run until Sept. 4, with guest Swiss chef from Marco Polo Hongkong Rolf Jaeggi hosting a cooking class on Aug. 21. Bringing with him his vast international experience, Chef Jaeggi specializes in Swiss cuisine with over 30 years of distinguished experience with royalties and heads of states from all over the world. His culinary class will feature traditional dishes such as the tasty appetizer beef carpaccio with beef tartar, quail egg, mache leaves and lemon pepper marinade; Zürcher geschnetzeltes with roesti; and plum tart with vanilla snaps and whipped cream.
Guests may also try a wine dinner that features a special four-course set menu at Switzerland at Cucina for P2888.00. A wide variety of Alpine Pralines will also be available at Café Pronto with boxes of three, six, and 12 while a Swiss cheese buffet and wine will be available every night at Vu’s Sky Bar and Lounge for the whole duration of the celebration for P1900.00.
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