First thing’s first. By now I hope you have read the About page, in which case you would know what this particular food blog is all about. But as a first posting, I thought I’d clarify exactly where this whole initative comes from.
Chances are, most of you who will read this blog (all 3.5 of you) are not really from Geneva. I’ve heard the story too many times now: most of us landed here unintentionally, sometimes having lived in bigger and more exciting places, and it seems like the city is boring. And dull. Right?
But let me stop you right there. The Geneva I grew up in and later came back to after 8 years in New York is neither bland nor dull. You do however need a little local help to break through that surface Calvinism that seems to be doing a great job at keeping the city quiet.
That’s where I hope to come in, to take you along to all the restaurants and bars worth a visit, and guide you through the mess of information, usually provided only in French, that makes it so difficult to access the sweet center of Geneva.
While growing up here, I was surrounded by delicious, decadent food. At the crossroads between France, Italy and Germany, Geneva and its surroundings have a lot to offer to those of us who spend our days dreaming about what we’ll be eating next. What’s more, my grandparents were trained and talented chefs, and every sunday we indulged in my hungarian grandmother’s paprika-based cooking and my grandfather’s state of the art pastries and desserts. Every season seemed to have its treats: the filets de perche du lac in the summer, the tender roasted game and mushrooms of the fall, winter’s raclette and fondue coupled with hot mulled wine, and salade de chevre in the spring.
After 8 years spent in New York as an adult, I moved back to Geneva to find the flavors and dishes hadn’t really changed, but more and more good restaurants had popped up. And so the great dinner marathon began, testing out restaurants of all sorts across the city.
Though surrounded by good food and prone to indulgence from the start, it was not until one day in 2011, when I was about to go on a hike in the pouring rain, that I paused to think about the concept of the produits du terroir, and my interest in food took a turn for the serious.
You have certainly seen the produit du terroir in the Coop and Migros. When you buy your “Vacherin Fribourgeois” cheese, its name indicates that the product is only authentic if it was made in Fribourg, according to centuries old cheese-making traditions. The “cardon épineux genevois” grows a bit like lettuce-heads and is now the first protected grown-product of Geneva. And the Valais has protected its way of baking pain de seigle.
All of a sudden I was engulfed in the world of food products. Tequila, I remembered, is a regional brand. And Buffala is known for its Mozarrella. Is it a coincidence that these are some of the most adored products in the world? Or is the local production, based on traditional methods, really a way of ensuring the taste quality of a product?
I started hitting the markets, mostly in Carouge, and instead of shyly asking the vendors to suggest whatever they felt like, I started picking up products and asking questions about them. Where was this grown/made? Who makes it? How?
Before I knew it, I had collected stacks of information on local products, which all stood the taste test when used in recipes back at home. It didn’t take too much longer to discover that some restaurants in the city have decided to support local farmers and producers. Which led to MORE eating out in restaurants…
But this time, dining out had gained a new purpose. Rather than just test and compare the quality of the melted chocolate sauce on a coupe danemark, or of the sauce that came with the steak, dining out now meant asking about the source of the products… and testing to see if they really did taste better.
So what’s the moral to this long, complicated story? The food here is great, and the city and countryside are teaming with restaurants, shops, markets and farms that will satisfy even the pickiest of the foodies. All that’s left is to use the info provided on this blog to figure out where to start.