Les Automnales: It’s What’s for Dinner. And Lunch.

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The results are in: les Automnales is definitely worth a taste this weekend if you can get to it!

Honestly? At first it feels a bit like something out of a 1950s deluded image of the future. On steroids. You pay your 10chf entrance fee and as the escalator peaks onto the first floor, an expanse of commercial madness starts to reveal itself. Replete with appliances, from refrigerators to microwaves, cookware and clothes, jewelry, coats, hats and even cars, for a second you wonder what it is you’re getting yourself into.

Before you go faint from the sheer size of the place, just take one right and one left turn and head to the far righthand corner of the hanger. There you will find the promised land: Geneve Région Terre Avenir’s corner of culinary heaven!

Granted, the experience for me was particularly fun, having escaped from the office to check out the event during my lunch break. I had signed up for the cocktail making class and intended to take a quick spin to see what they all had to offer and grab a bite to eat.

A Veritable Smorgasbord 

So here’s what you get: Geneva’s milk and egg producers, bakers, millers and flours, Portugal’s flavored oils, Annecy’s mélange of creative salamis (saucisson a la tartiflette??), the region’s best gateau aux noisettes, restaurants where you can order fondue, plates of cured meats and cheeses, and Geneva’s own longeole…. there is truly something for everyone, and if you can get around in French, it is a true delight to speak with folks behind the counters who have visibly dedicated the better part of their lives to their craft. And you’ll never believe it, but they were ALL friendly and happy to explain the difference between this flour and that, discuss the sad disappearance of traditional Geneva pies, how chocolate will always survive economic crisis, and how they managed to fit tartiflette into a sausage. (Don’t ask; I couldn’t tell you anyway!)

What I did not expect to find there was the diversity of cook and bake ware. A line of rubber muffin tins of all shapes, sizes and colors was particularly noticeable, and there a number of competing stovetop stands. You know, just in case you’re lookin!

My Secret Chocolate Weapon

The absolute highlight of the event however (with the exception of the midday mojito I got to make and consume) was nonchalantly stumbling across my favorite chocolate maker. Nope, not my favorite chocolate maker in Geneva, not in Switzerland, but just my favorite chocolate maker period. Having met the chocolatiers during a trip to the Geneva country side late this summer, I slowed down my lunchtime dash to a total halt and got the scoop on their latest products.

In addition to their award winning pavé glacé Genevois, Mr and Mrs Hochstrasser of Meinier have used their exquisitely creamy dark chocolate to make “langues de chats”, literally cats tongues, which are sort of figure 8 shaped, thin bars of solid chocolate. Take a bite of one of these and just let it sit on your tongue for a minute………

Hey!  Don’t drift off entirely just yet. They also have an apple liqueur, marinated sour cherries, AND, in extremely limited production, a griottes (sour cherry) juice redistilled at 42 that comes complete with its own certificate.

Oh, and here’s the catcher. They don’t have a store front, so seriously: go there just to catch these guys while you can.

Word to the wise

Definitely go hungry, and bring money. Getting out there is easy, as I explained in the previous post on les Automnales. The 5 bus stops just in front of the entrance to the expo space, and before you know it you’re in a consumer heaven. If you’re going this weekend, it’s worth reserving a table at one of the restaurants.  For local fare, definitely go to the Geneve Region Terre Avenir sector. For a more avant guard culinary experience, you may want to try to snag a reservation at La Table des Chef’s Goutatoo restaurant. Call +41 (0)22 761 25 25 to make your reservation!

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