A Food Truck named Funky

As if the sunny warm weather weren’t delightful enough, I just got wind that there’s a NEW FOOD TRUCK IN TOWN!

And does it serve burgers? NO!

Does it serve American style BBQ? HELL YEAH!

Funky BBQ is brought to you by a trio of expats who swear up and down that their undying love for BBQ is what will make their food truck run.

So if you’re in the mood for pulled pork, join me in testing out the newbies when they rev up their engines on 11 November, 11:30 to 14:00, at Plainpalais!

And of course, watch this space for the review…

Tagged , ,

Alert! Moelleux au Chocolat Tasting – Thursday 9 October!

You’ve heard before my musings and particularities about the moelleux versus fondant au chocolat.

If like me you love judging one moelleux against another (mainly as an excuse to eat a whole lot of excellent quality chocolat) you should absolutely not be missing this event! Rather than show-casing the work of various chocolatiers, all the moelleux will be prepared by Philippe Pascoet of chocolate-covered caramelized pistachios fame (a household favorite).

So what’s the taste test for? Each moelleux will be prepared using a different type of cocoa bean, including varieties from Africa, Asia and Latin America. that’s right, this event is for the truly refined palate – or for anyone who just wants to eat many delicious moelleux. Same same as they say.

Here are the details:

  • Thursday 9 October, 6:30pm SHARP
  • Chocolaterie Stettler
  • 69, rue du Rhône
  • Free for members of the Passionés du chocolat club, 15chf for Slow Food members, 20chf for everyone else.
  • Email j.haenggi@passionnes-chocolat.ch with your name and membership status to reserve your spot!

PS- become a Slow Food member to get these announcements straight from the horse’s mouth!

Tagged , , ,

Speaking Truthfully about Spikisi

It was the third and last stop on our Jeune Genevois cocktail-bar-hopping night. Walking down the cobble stone street to Spikisi, with a few cocktails already down the hatch, the mood was giddy: we had left Geneva and were projecting ourselves onto the late-night streets of Milano (without the mess of limbs and the clattering of voices). It seemed like Geneva might finally have the critical mass of cool bars it needs to foster a night life fit for those of us who are neither students nor bankers!

First let’s debunk the expectation that the Spikisi is a speakeasy- sadly, it is just a fun misnomer. The bar/restaurant sits on a small street behind Plainpalais and not in anyway concealed. But, when I stumbled across this place on a website advertising it as a bar, it seemed promising. From there, I perused their Facebook page, where visions of cocktails and burgers danced in my head. What a cash cow, I thought to myself: nightcap AND preventive hangover remedy in one go? Why hadn’t anyone else thought of that yet?

The bar has that neighborhood café feel

The bar has that neighborhood café feel

The setting is perfectly attuned to my taste: small, warm, café style seating with a romantic twinge, but very much still feeling like a bar scene. Reggae/ska/ragga over the loudspeaker gave the place a cool and comfy vibe. My anticipation grew, despite myself: had we reached the promised-land?

I started fearing I built it up too much in my own head. I mean look at the competition: Geneva is now graced with some internationally competitive burgers thanks to Inglewood and The Hamburger Foundation, and Apothicaire still boasts my all-time favorite cocktail (and no, it’s not on the menu).  Spikisi had some tough acts to follow.

wpid-20140911_231134.jpg

The restaurant spreads out to the basement, for more whimsical seating

The restaurant spreads out to the basement, for more whimsical seating

Let’s get the tough part out of the way: the cocktails were downright undrinkable. The Italian owner, mustachioed and as hipster as they come, was super friendly and asked me what kind of alcohol and flavors I was into. I told him my standard: gimme something tart and tangy, not too sweet, not “tropical”, not bitter. That usually results in a gin with some kind of citrus, a cucumber and/or mint, and some signature flavor to make it stand out. In this case, he arrived with a dark orange sample for me to taste what turned out to be a Negroni, a classic Italian cocktail that to me is squarely in the “bitter” category. I declined. Second sample: the liquid was bright yellow this time. It tasted like liquified lemon cough drops; I diplomatically told him it was just too sweet. Third try: a fluorescent blue-green liquid, which I tasted and accepted because it was the least offensive so far. If memory serves, it must have been a kamikaze. Whatever it was, it did NOT match the pictures of the cocktails I saw on their FB page.

Funky menu from which decade, i don't really know

Funky menu from which decade, i don’t really know

The burger combos they proposed sounded great and spoke to the 20s-30s theme: “Frank Me!” “Al Capone” and the “Borsalino” to name a few. I chose the Metropolis, which came with mozzarella, caramelized onions, and barbecue sauce. THF and co. can rest easy, there was no competition there. The burgers were all bun, no patty. Undersalted/uderseasoned. The meat was on the dry side. My caramelized onions were tasteless (an accomplishment indeed). And the fries were simply forgettable.

wpid-20140911_233221.jpg wpid-wp-1411098196054.jpeg wpid-wp-1411098359288.jpeg

Sadly, I loved the place, but wouldn’t be able to justify going back for either the food or the drinks. It’s got a great space, cute decor, laid back vibe, and very warm and whimsical staff. Now, if they would only invest in a decent cocktail shaker behind the bar and a burger flipper in the kitchen…

Tagged , , ,

Buena Vista Cocktail Club: Good Things Come in Threes

We had just finished imbibing a couple of cocktails at Kytaly. Impressed as we were by the drinks, the second lily pad on our barhopping tour had us all hyped, and so off we hopped!

No doubt, Alirio scored himself a turkey with his latest addition to the Atelier Cocktail family. Located in the heart of UNIGE’s main watering hole strip, the Buena Vista Cocktail Club offers everything you know and love at Apothicaire and Atelier du Cocktail – plus more food offerings an extra something for the VIP.

wpid-20140911_230032.jpg

Ok, it was dark, and these photos are terrible.

You’ll recognize the decor/ambiance as most closely related to the Apothicaire, and the drinks menu has all your tried and true favorites. Two new things about this place: first, they built up their food choices, adding fajitas (the beef fajita is kind of like bolognese sauce wrapped in large soft flour tortilla- tasty, though not reeeaaally a fajita) tacos and an avocado salad to their usual guacamole, cheese and meat platters.  This is a definite plus in my view, because 3 cocktails and no food = harsh morning after.

The other cool thing is the “speakeasy” style lounge tucked into their basement, which, although not reaaally being a speakeasy, is a nice addition.

Again - so dark. Very terrible photos.

Again – so dark. Very terrible photos.

The room certainly has a speakeasy feel to it (if by “speakeasy” you expect dark, cozy, and located awkwardly close to the bathrooms). But, without trying to nit pick, speakeasies were created, as we all know, during prohibition, when the sale of alcohol was illegal. So there could be no bars. So the bars hid behind delis, laundromats, tea rooms, etc. Secret passwords were exchanged for entrance through bathroom doors, bookshelves and telephone booths to drink the illicit liquors, embellished with tonics, sodas and juices to mask the harsh flavors of the alcohols of the day.  So you’ll understand that hiding a bar within a bar is, well, not really a speak easy. Let’s call it a slightly smelly, dark, VIP lounge, shall we?

But a rose by any other name still smells as sweet, and this VIP lounge, as un-concealed and un-exclusive as it may be, is still a very cool and quiet place to lounge with an ever-so-delicious cocktail mixed by one of Alirio’s own.

After Kytaly and Buena Vista, it was hard to imagine how another cocktail bar might top them off.. but off we went to the third and last cocktail bar of the night: the Spikisi.

Tagged ,

Kytaly: A cocktail with a side of Italian restaurant

In a bizarre turn of events, I was actually in town for the long weekend of Jeune Genevois. During a full day of rare down time, I finally came to think of new bars I’d heard about in Geneva. All rested up, and dreaming of cocktails, what else could I do but go bar-hopping? There were a few that had recently come to my attention, and in the course of one night we covered three – Kytaly, the Buena Vista Cocktail Club, and the Spikisi – which I have reviewed in a three part series.

First stop, Kytaly!

The restaurant and deli showcase their mozzarella

The restaurant and deli showcase their mozzarella

Although we were clearly aiming for cocktails, we slowly discovered Kytaly had many faces, offering pizza slices to go, Italian dining a la carte, gourmet deli Italian meats and mozzarella, and of course, cocktails. Our time there was nothing short of an M.C. Escher optical illusion: if you had asked me and each of my three companions what kind of place it was, you would have gotten four different answers: pizza takeout spot, restaurant with a convenient cocktail bar where you can wait for your table, cocktail bar with not enough bar seating, etc. The debate was open!

wpid-20140911_210809.jpg

The pizza take out bar at the entrance

The place was empty, which, the jovial bar tender explained, was because it was their opening week. And indeed, it had that brand-spanking new feel to it, like a new car smell, or rigid pair of leather shoes.

Or was the coolness intentionally embedded in the décor? With mostly silvery grey enameled surfaces, the bar-resto has a slick contemporary vibe, with pretty stark lighting. Front stage was given to a few tables set for dinner and a pizza oven, and the backstage housed the deli and some more tables, leaving the cocktail bar squeezed into a little mezzanine in between.  Maybe this was more of a resto cum bar rather than a cocktail bar that served food after all?

Bar-height dinner tables and a selection of italian products for sale - or is it decoration?

Bar-height dinner tables and a selection of italian products for sale – or is it decoration?

We ordered a round of cocktails and were strongly encouraged by the bartender (and waiter, and manager, and…) to order some focaccia and a pizza. The cocktails were excellent, albeit on the small side: the bar tender nailed classics such as the Manhattan and a no frills version of the G&T. When asked to tweak one of their own cocktails, he was happy to do so and turned out a variation of the Kytaly Panky (bourbon, vermouth, fernet branca and campari).

wpid-20140911_210534.jpg

When testing a new cocktail bar, I always ask for one of the classics first, in this case, a Manhattan.

We caved to the manager’s somewhat overeager client orientation and ordered a pizza margherita to share. Again, great product, slightly smaller than a Da Paolo’s pie with a light, doughy crust, nicely sweet and sour tomato sauce and creamily melted cheese.

Snack for four or dinner for one, either way, a perfectly decent pizza

Snack for four or dinner for one, either way, a perfectly decent pizza

With both cocktails and pizzas under their belt, and a location a stone’s throw away from Apothicaire, Barbershop, Blvd du Vin and the Nonolet, there’s no reason why Kytaly shouldn’t be a hub of its own before too long. But what kind of hub will it be? A post-after work bite to eat and night cap? The place to go for a lunch time slice of pizza and a little deluxe deli shopping? Whatever floats your boat, maybe. In any case, I’ll be giving it a few weeks to see if the place gets a bit cozier, shaking off that new car smell effect and breaking into its snazzy new leather shoes.

Thirsty for more? We were, and so we hiked off to stop 2: the Buena Vista Cocktail Club.

Tagged , ,

The Plants Bore FRUIT!!

Ladies and gentlemen, not a single one of you will care about this as much as I do, but let me nonetheless try to impart my excitement.

 MY PLANTS BORE FRUIT!!! 

wpid-20140813_195411.jpg

SEE???? FRUIT!!!

 

And in case that was not sufficiently up close and personal: 

wpid-20140813_195437.jpg

FRUIT!!!!!!

Friends, let me tell you. I had completely given up hope. (Almost). And then, just like that, with very little effort on my part, those little beautiful cherry tomatoes appeared. 

Good one universe. You had me going there for a second. 

Tagged , , , , , ,

Head’s up! There’s a New Pizza Truck on the Block

Let me start with an admission: I have lived in Geneva for the better part of 30 years, including most of my teens and late 20s, and yet, I had never been to the Paleo Festival in Nyon… until last week.

Shame, scandal, horror! Or maybe not such a big deal. In any case, now in my early 30s, less inclined to get muddied up, but still up for new experiences, I rolled up my work pants, switched into my hiking boots, and danced in the mud with 230,000 other spectators. And it was a blast.

Naturally, I needed to fuel up before getting started. Lucky for me, I knew I would finally be able to try Nero’s Roman sliced Pizza, Geneva’s second new school food truck that opened back in May.  Why did it take so long you ask? Simply because I work nowhere near any of their weekday lunch locations. Povero me! So I was naturally thrilled to find out they’d be stationed at Paleo Festival all week.

And indeed, Nero is off to a great start on its mission to serve up artisanal Roman style slices to the masses, and are just a few tweaks short of a faultless slice of pizza. Nero’s prides itself first and foremost on its dough, and with good reason. Two years they claim to have studied and tested to get the pitch perfect consistency of a Roman style pizza: crunchy on the outside, moist and doughy on the inside. Well boys, the studying paid off, the dough truly is all its cracked up to be. The tomato sauce – another fundamental to a good slice of pizza – is also very nicely tangy, and not too sweet.

Pizza sitting pretty: left, the highly recommended salami picante with onion confit

Pizza sitting pretty: left, the highly recommended salami picante with onion confit

The cherry on top (ahem), is that they get creative with their toppings, which really teases the eye and the appetite. We got to try most slices on their regular menu, a marinara (tomato sauce, garlic, oregano and parsley), parmigiana di melanzane (eggplant, tomato, mozza, parm and fresh basil), bufala (mozza di bufala, tomato and fresh basil), salame piccante (salami, tomatoes, parsley and caramelized onions), and one of their specials with sausage and zucchini.  The ingredients are unmistakably top notch (that salami picante was so tender you’d almost rather eat it straight), and they go green by showcasing seasonal ingredients. While some ingredients were prepped to shine, others could still use some spicing up.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My favorite: hands down the salami piccante with the caramelized onions, and I’ll tell you why. The onions bring a beautiful acidity and depth to the flavor profile, which I find key when dealing with so much cheesy goodness. The eggplant and zucchini slices could have used a bit of that umph, but this is nitpicking really.

Finally, we tried the tiramisu, which, I mean, how can you go wrong? It’s nothing but layered tastiness. It was almost all you would expect from a tiramisu, sweet and creamy with just that subtle touch of chocolate powder. I would personally change the ratio of biscuit to cream (ie, a bit less biscuit), but again, a matter of personal taste.

wpid-20140722_192838.jpg

A tip for the newbies: if you’ve never been to a NY or Roman style pizza parlor before, get in the know! The slices are on display, they are then slipped into the oven to get nice and toasty warm for you, and after a few minutes, you’re off with your slice of pizza. So be cool and don’t freak if you can’t just walk away with what’s on display.

In sum, Nero’s is joining Luigia’s to introduce Geneva’s palate to another kind of pizza altogether. Their aim: serving up artisanal roman pizza by the slice to the masses. A valiant objective, to which they are well on their way. No doubt they will have the technique perfected after dealing with Paleo, and next… the Fete de Geneve!  Check out their FB page for updates.

 

Tagged , ,

A Tomato Plant Grows (slowly) in Geneva

For years I have been theoretically committed to learning how to grow some of my own produce. I can’t think of a good reason why not to! It involves dirt, fresh produce, it is a more sustainable means of food production, you can better control what you eat, and urban gardening is just the coolest concept of our time – RIGHT?

But I have not been known for my green thumbs, and I’ve got a very whiny inner couch-potato. Plus, with the travel schedule I maintain, growing anything has been next to impossible. Yes, I could get a neighbor to help water my plants while I’m away… but that would involve meeting the neighbors. Which takes effort. Etc. And if that’s not illustrative enough, I should report that my attempt at an herb garden last year turned into a miniature graveyard within two weeks, no joke.

So this year, when I tripped over this announcement by Tomates Urbaines, I jumped at the opportunity to try my hand, once again, at making things grow at home.

It was April when I received my seeds from Tomates Urbaines. After first spilling the seeds all over the floor, I swept them up and managed to sprinkle them into the bottom of a small plastic bin to get them started (I can’t say for sure if a few other things that I picked up off the floor didn’t get planted as well….).  You cannot possibly imagine my childlike excitement when they first sprouted!  Who needs the whole tomato? Just this tiny little sprout was enough to make me feel accomplished.

my first little sprouts!

my first little sprouts!

Well, not really. I do want the tomatoes I said to myself, to which my inner couch-potato sighed.

Next, my travel schedule kicked in – two weeks solid without being home, and no one there to water my little babies. I took a chance and put the bins outside, crossing my fingers that nature would do its thang. I was convinced I would come home to mud. But lo and behold! My little sprouts had grown up to be proper toddler plants!

The time soon came when I needed to pot them. But I didn’t have any pots. And it was a Sunday, in Geneva, which means: nowhere to go to buy pots. Foiled again, this time they would die for sure.

But then, lifesaver, my partner reminded me of the old plastic bottle trick. With my inner couch potato kicking and screaming, I spent my afternoon sawing off the bottoms of the bottles (with some help from the muscle man in my life) and viciously stabbing holes into their bottoms for drainage.  Then I nervously pricked the roots out of the dirt with a pencil, and placed them into new little pots. And wouldn’t you know, they didn’t collapse and die in the process. Amazing!

I WAS SUPPOSED TO TAKE PHOTOS BUT CLEARLY COMPLETELY FORGOT.

My eight tomato plants looked like a much messier version of these (photo taken from http://www.insideurbangreen.org)

In May, I once again had to abandon the kiddies for nearly two weeks. I bid farewell to them, leaving them outdoors again, assuming (again) that they would die a miserable death either by drowning or dehydration. But by now, I think you know how the story goes: when I got back, they were totally fine!

The month of June has gone by like a flash. I re-potted them since they were getting super tall. Tomates Urbaines had announced I should be seeing leaves growing out of the armpits of the branches by now, which I should prune. But why were there no little leaves in MY plants’ armpits?? I freaked that my babies were falling behind the pack. What would it take? Special ed classes? More parental supervision? Love?? Yes to all is what I was guessing.

This is kind of what they looked like at this stage.

This is kind of what they looked like at this stage.

 

So, a bit behind schedule, I finally bought bigger pots, tons of soil, sticks, and wire, and finally made the move to put them outside permanently. Their stems are thickening and I’m pruning those little leaves that grow out of the armpits of the larger stems and branches. I haven’t bothered to buy fertilizer, which I managed to forget last time I went to the DIY shop. And out of sheer convenience, I’m naively assuming no fungus or disease would dare go near my little tomato elves.

 

no branches from the armpits yet

my pre-teen tomato garden

Now it’s July, and Tomates Urbaines says they should soon be bearing fruit. WHAT FRUIT?? I don’t see even the bud of a possible fruit on my plants! Are they not getting enough sun? Water? Do I really have to haul ass and get that fertilizer?  But it’s summer summer summer tiiiiime! Time for sleeping and reading and lazing around!

But I can’t give up now, no! I’ve come this far. Couch potato or no couch potato, I will make tomatoes happen. As soon as I’ve finished watching this YouTube clip of the hamster eating the burrito…

 

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

UPDATE! The Hamburger Foundation Restaurant, Paquis

A few weeks back I wrote a review of the new THF restaurant in the Paquis. In short? I said it was incredible and awesome, but that their “brunch” menu didn’t have what it took to get me out of the house on a sunday, and I also wasn’t sold on the iceberg salad with the slightly too sweet dressing.

Happy to update that on a return visit I discovered a huge improvement in the salad, which now included dark greens, and a tangy dressing that hits just the right balance of acidity before you attack that cheese and bacon burger. Yum.

Moreover, they’ve made the wise decision of putting brunch on hold. You can still get your basic breakfast though, which, I maintain, is still a welcomed arrival to Geneva’s food scene.

So in case you ever hesitated, head on over and enjoy the food and tunes!

 

Tagged , , , ,

Springtime with Slow Food: Disco Soups, Slow Mobiles, Eating ALL the goat, and a visit to an organic farm

Slow Food Switzerland has got a lot going on these days! Sadly for Genevans, most of it seems to be happening in parts of the country that are further away than most of us would like to go (scroll down to 1 June for a day-long farm excursion a little closer to home). Nonetheless, their initiatives are inspiring and make me wish there was a more active community of responsible foodies in Geneva. For instance, they’ve finally launched the Slow Mobile, a kitchen on wheels that tours the country to teach kids how to cook using fresh, local products. In April, Slow Food Vaud organized a DISCO SOUP in Lausanne to remind people not to waste food. Now, I don’t know what a Disco Soup is exactly, but I want it!  So consider joining Slow Food Geneva….. so we can have our own disco soup!

23-25 May

Seems worth noting that Slow Food chefs around the country will each be taking up the challenge of cooking an entire goat. Why, you ask? Well that’s the point isn’t it. Today most chefs rely only on the better, easier to cook cuts of the meat, leaving many other edible, but harder to cook, parts of the animal to waste. This Slow Food event attempts to counter this culinary lazy streak by trying to revive the spirit of the Bouchon Lyonnais, a snout-to-tail cooking tradition that has also been taken up over the last couple of years in trendier big-city restaurants. (Corner Room in London by the way is a great place to try exquisitely prepared cheaper parts of various animals).

Details: If you’re interested in partaking, check out the Slow Food CH agenda for a location near you.

June 1, 10am-3pm

Pack up the kids, spend the day at an organic farm near Lausanne! 

Slow Food Vaud invites you to visit Marché Bio Kalt, an organic farm that truly does it all: Cheese addict? Check-out their cheese production, made from the milk of their own cows and goats. Lactose intolerant? They also have a bakery with a wood-burning oven that churns out a variety of traditional breads. Gluten intolerant? They have a permaculture vegetable garden and a solarium where they dry out aromatic plants. Not convinced by the flora? Well they have fauna too, naturally: beehives, cows, goats, pigs, chickens, you name it. Don’t leave without stopping by their market, where you can purchase their products (including tofu).

Details: 40chf for Slow Food members, 50chf for non-members. Kids up to 10 years old enter free. Kids over 10 and up to 20 enter at a fee of 1chf per year of age above 10 (ie, 11 years old = 1chf, 12 = 2chf, etc.)

Sign up by 25 May by contacting the Slow Food organizers: Marie-Claire Pecoud : 077 474 84 45 or Brigitte Streiff : 078 601 81 10

Marché Bio Kalt  –  Les Eterpis 2 1124 Gollion

Tagged , , ,
%d bloggers like this: