Tag Archives: Geneva

A pop-up named Polp

Geneva has had some tricks up it sleeves, but none quite as surprising as Polp, a pop-up wedged between a fitness center and a Migros. The man in the window is mustachioed, smiling and friendly. The choice is yours and you only have one choice: pita stuffed with octopus, wrapped in brown paper, ready to eat anywhere but there.


A mouthful is consistent, replete with octopus carpaccio, slightly spicy, adorned with rucola, olives and green peppers, and peppered with oregano. So far so good, but the best was the surprise ending: there in the pita’s base you’ll find a couple of anchovies with their characteristic saltiness, but – hey wait, where you going?? – anchovy-haters, rest easy, these come curled up in pillowey, creamy burrata that helps round out some of that edgy anchovy.


Sound a little crazy? Then the experiment is probably working, because this is the craftwork of a self-proclaimed “Mad Chef”. Of Milanese extraction, Walter el Nahar has already gotten his experiments in the high-end Fiskebar in the Hotel de la Paix, and Susuru, the most recent, (questionably) popular ramen shop to hit downtown. He’ll be thinking up concoctions for his pop-up through November, with a new dish each month. In July, Filipino style ceviche. In August, he goes local (just in time for Swiss National Day on August 1st), with crayfish and a cuchaule fribourgeois – a slightly sweet saffron brioche bread, recently endowed with its own PDO label. Glad I’ll be coming back from vacation in time for that one!

Come fall, look out for his next wild idea, a gastropub that will serve you four days a week, and provide free meals to those in need on the 5th day. It’s name? Le Cinquieme Jour. Simply mad.


Address: 15 rue des Eaux-Vives

Open: Mon-Fri, 11:30 until their stock runs out 

Cost: 15chf for a pita

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An evening at Yo’Mo is full of non sequiturs and densely flavored Lebanese and Mediterranean dishes. Having a meal there makes you feel a bit like you should be having a birthday party: oversized chairs, large scale pop art on the walls, contrasting patterns and colors on the sofas, pillows and rugs. A little like a piñata threw up in an airport lounge – but in a good way? On one side, a gorgeous view of the Lac Leman and the Jardin Anglais. On the other, a print of Mona Lisa smoking a hookah. A built-in bookshelf lines the far wall and is dotted with tchotchkes and books. (Haute Dogs was perhaps a weird choice of a cookbook to throw into the mix of a Lebanese restaurant, but there it was).

On a Monday evening (and a public holiday no less), Yo’Mo was open and ready to serve, and seemed to attract a diverse clientele. Over the course of our meal, a few North American tourists, a crew of local teenagers, and a conservative muslim family all took their seats in turn.



After way too much time spent pouring over the menu, a friendly waitress quietly and patiently took our order with a bashful smile. Having ruled out the “oriental style pizzas” for the night, we opted for a spread of hot and cold mezze – mostly classics, with the occasional twist. Eggplant caviar came in smokey hues, and would risk falling flat if it weren’t for the pomegranate pops of acidity. Hummus comes two ways: served plain, it was unctuous and totally free of that overwhelming raw garlic pervasive in too many recipes. Adorned, the acidity of the beef and pine nuts were offset by a gentle aroma of sesame. Tabouleh, served as it should be, with just a sprinkling of bulgur,brightened up the hummus and meat dishes. The kebbeh (meatballs) were served with an onion jam that tasted a little more like strawberry jam than one would want. Less inspiring was the falafel, which came out just a bit dry. Rich, smooth labneh and the fresh-out-of-the-oven flatbread  was everything you needed to dress and deliver the tang to your taste-buds. 


While the food may transport you, the music won’t let you mistake Geneva for Beirut. In keeping with the contemporary vibe, Yo’Mo rightly avoids the traditional tunes of the ‘Mediterranean’. But in its place, you get loungey electro no better than elevator music, reminding you clearly that it’s Geneve for the nouveau-riche after all. Until that random salsa song comes on, bringing non-sequitur and flavor back to the mix.


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Play that Funky Brunch

Just when you thought brunch was a bust. The moment that simmering fear started crystalizing in your head that brunch is in fact a cruel ploy to get you to pay extortionist prices for an omelet in high heels and a tiara. In that very instant of reckoning that we are living in a post-brunch world, brunch – or something like it – came to Geneva.

Of course, you’ll tell me, Geneva has had its brunch spots, from the haughty to the healthy. In days of yore, you heard me squealing about the elusive and exclusive poached egg (which, last I checked, can still only be found at Au P’tit Bonheur), the unacceptability of buffets, and the obstinacy of Swiss brunch menus having to include copious amounts of bircher muesli and quiche, when what you really want are pancakes, bacon, eggs benedict and a bloody bloody mary.

So if you’ve followed my brunch posts, you’ll know my three rules of brunch: no buffets. poached eggs a must. and there must be booze. (That is what the b in brunch stands for, right?) Well, this week’s contestant is 1 for 3: food is served buffet-style, they do not have poached eggs, and they do serve booze. Arguably, the first two theoretical blunders cancel each other out, because who in their right mind wants a poached egg that’s been sitting on the buffet?

Funky Brunch

Funky Brunch, Geneva’s latest (successful) pop-up, appeared as a blip on the radar back in December 2013 at Fenomeno. A glance at the pictures that went up on fb at the time had me intrigued; but no, back then I had been burned by too many boozeless bircher brunches to risk another flop.

Now, at 1 and a half years old (what’s that, about 5 in restaurant years?) the Funky Brunch has gone from a blip to a bang, taking over a kitchen near you almost every Sunday. When I first arrived at Windows, the restaurant overlooking the lake at Hotel d’Angleterre, I was reticent. Of the two sittings available, I had reserved the early one at 10:45, and there were kids everywhere. I ain’t juding – just sayin. And there in the back was the usual classless buffet. In my skepticism, I grabbed a plate, put my head down and hit the buffet like a perfect little lemur: two scoops scrambled eggs, two slices bacon that’s been sitting around… excuse me while I face-plant in my plate.

eggs n bacon (and beef carpaccio)

eggs n bacon (and beef carpaccio)

But then. Oh, but then. When we regrouped at our table, my friends came back with entirely different food on their plates. Where had those colorful diverse salads come from? Green beans with orange peel? Fava beans and radishes? Bulgur with tomato and cilantro? Asparagus, haloumi and sun dried tomatoes?

red and yellow and pink and green, orange and purple and blue, I can sing a rainbow too

red and yellow and pink and green, orange and purple and blue, I can sing a rainbow too

While my eyes took in the confetti-looking food, a faint smell of fish and french fries tickled my nostrils, and out of the kitchen came marching a waiter with the first serving of fish & chips. A furtive glance to the left revealed a station with a roasted leg of lamb and gratin dauphinois with a light creamy mint sauce. Then someone else came back to the table like he’d seen the promised land: indeed, he’d just returned from the buffet of milk and honey – and cereals and pancakes, and – wait, are those cupcakes??

crispy and fatty and n'er too salty

crispy and fatty and n’er too salty

lamb, jus, mint sauce and some sneaky asparagus salad

lamb, jus, mint sauce and some sneaky asparagus salad

The offerings officially had me sold. Granted, not everything was perfect: the salads could have used some salt, and the lamb, while very tender, wasn’t so inspiring in flavor without its creamy mint sauce. But the OJ was fresh, the fish was crisp and the chips were thick, the salads were delightfully seasonal and refreshing, and the cheesecake was lip-smackingly sour.

DESSERTS: dark chocolate mousse to die for, sour cheesecake, rice pudding (?) and slightly oversweetened apple tarte

DESSERTS: dark chocolate mousse to die for, sour cheesecake, rice pudding (?) and slightly oversweetened apple tarte

So we plowed through, course after course, sipping our coffees, cucumber-celery juice, and Aperol Spritz as a DJ spun R&B classics that even the rug rats were dancing to. A clown appeared half way through my third helping of wakame-wrapped salmon to entertain the kids, and by the looks of it, they’d had some fairy visits too. Having come to the early sitting, we probably saw more kids of the short, pudgy, single-digit kind, who, I am guessing would be replaced by the tall double-digit stinky kind come second sitting.

And indeed, Funky Brunch has figured out how to reconcile the needs of all Geneva brunchers: from the parents wanting a break from the kitchen, to the Saturday night pack rats in for their carbicide Sunday boozer. A true place where little Joey can get his face painted while mama clutches her well-deserved Bellini (and yes I will have that refill, thanks).

Bon app!

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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…

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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!

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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.

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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.


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.


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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!


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The Hamburger Foundation has kicked off its training wheels

It was a big weekend for this little foodie. For the first time in months, I had a whole weekend in town, so I was finally able to dig into a few activities I couldn’t have enjoyed otherwise. I planted my special tomato seeds, I lazed around in the sun, I went to FestiChoc in Versoix (stay tuned for more on that), AND I made my first hollandaise (and the sauce didn’t even break!).

To kick things off, Friday evening I finally dropped in on The Hamburger Foundation‘s new digs. I was nervous at first: what if they make a mean burger, but underneath it all are no different than the putz’ who run most Geneva restaurants? Another uninspired decor with the same menu at exorbitant prices? No thank you, I’m full.

To my delight, THF came through. Stepping into the restaurant sends you through some kind of warp zone: you’ve left Geneva and have landed in London, NYC, Madrid, or Oslo. The difference between this and other restaurants is simple: no pretense, design with flair, and a relaxed ambiance. Oh, and of course the standard, 100% reliably fantastic, simple burger.

It seems clear that the THF team is still testing waters. They have a cocktail bar going, which is super exciting for those of us who really need a fix after work. Since they didn’t have cranberry juice in stock for my usual “test” drink (the cosmo) I tried another old favorite, the whiskey sour, which I ditched years ago because the first thing bartenders do is reach for the sour mix… The THF bar seems to have avoided this basic mistake, BUT, still a little over-the-top sweet, and as much as I love sweet, at the end of the day, I’m more of a sourpuss than a sugar mama. The highlight: an artisanal blonde beer by Haute Savoie producer Mont Saleve: flowery, herby, with honey tones bringing the depth, it had enough complexity to stand up to a nice red wine.


not a real sugar cane in there, but still a little too sweet for a sour

The burgers? Just as awesome as when you get them from the trucks. The fries however seemed a little less fresh than when they’re served at the truck, and their usually distinctive rosemary aroma wasn’t as present. Maybe just got a little unlucky and got fries from the end of a batch. One addition to the menu is an iceberg salad with a maple syrup dressing, which we wouldn’t have missed had it not been served. And at long last, I tested their cheesecake – PHENOMENAL, relatively light with a a beautiful creamy acidity, and the graham cracker base coming in with just the right amount of cinnamon, ginger and sugar to balance it all out. The apple crumble on the other hand, less exciting: it seems like they went a little heavy on the corn starch and sugar, giving it a syrupy consistency that reminded me a little of the McDonald’s apple pie desserts…  truthfully, its not bad, but I would go for the cheesecake every time.



Come Sunday, I was trying to mobilize to test they’re brand new brunch menu. Sadly, it features more of a breakfast than a brunch: the morning burger sounds like your typical egg cheese and bacon sandwich (on a burger bun), eggs and bacon or sausages are a classic for Brits, Americans and beyond, and for the Swiss among the clientele, they have cereal, soft boiled egg, half a grapefruit….

Now, there are things I can really appreciate about this menu. First off, it’s great there’s a new ‘brunch’ place in town. And THF built its success on mastering simple things that appeal to a wide audience – but are they falling victim to that formula?  When push came to shove on Sunday  morning, it just wasn’t the menu that would get me out of bed and into the diner booth. Why drag myself across town when I can make all of the above plus eggs benedict right here at home?

No doubt I’ll be going back to this latest and greatest anytime I want a burger and a cocktail. And here’s hoping they keep the existing brunch menu, but tack on an item or two that will get me on my feet.


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Les Automnales, 2013

It may not be the most exciting event around town, but it’s one of the only times and places where you can undoubtedly score some of the best chocolates in town.

Les Automnales – a bizarre showing of vendors of all types – is at Palexpo again from 8-17 November. Here are some of the foodie oriented highlights!

Atelier du chocolat

Each day you can sign up for a chocolate workshop led by no other than Gilles Desplanches, one of the most successful chocolate and pastry shop owners in town. What can you get out of it? Well, you won’t be making chocolate, but you’ll still have some fun with it:

– Finishing and decorating a piggy bank (shaped like a real pig….)

– Assembling and decorating a chocolate marmite.

– Customizing a 14cm chocolate biscuit

– Assembling and decorating a plane and its pilot with chocolate and marzipan

– Preparing and tasting diverse chocolate drinks.

– Assembling and decorating a 12cm chocolate flower pot

Not so into chocolate? 

Ecole Club Migros will be offering cooking demonstrations on everything from how to make a verrine, to sushi, pizette, pad thai, Japchae, or mezze. And you thought local Geneva didn’t do international…

But you ARE into chocolate, so…. 

Don’t forget to stop by the Hochstrasser family to buy your chocolates for the season. Chocolate butter squares with chocolate powder on top is what they are. Simply out of this world, simply awesome.

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Homegrown: Mushroom Picking in the Enchanted Forest

Once upon a time, in a land of mythical beauty, there was a little village, nestled in acres of vineyards, atop a little hill in the countryside. The village might have been the quaintest of the land, but oh what a view! Most spectacular it was after a summer storm, when the clouds would part, and the first rays of sun would sweep over the fields, revealing thousands of shades of green and gold as far as the eyes could see.

“Anywhere in the Geneva Country Side” Courtesy of myswitzerland.com

The village was also the tiniest of the land, with only a handful of houses and a local restaurant  to serve the few families that lived there.  Unlike many other such restaurants in small villages, this one was no longer run by the family that originally opened it. Uncharacteristically, three dopey elves from a neighboring land had visited the restaurant one day and, noting the need for new management and taken by the quaint village and its beautiful scenery, decided to settle and run the restaurant.

One day, a slightly neurotic but usually fun-loving girl who called herself the Green Gourmande (GG)  wandered into the restaurant. She did not just stumble in by chance of course, but she was fortunate enough to know one of the villagers who happened to dine there frequently, and who had kindly invited her and some friends to taste the local flavor.

When they arrived, GG and her friends were greeted with big smiles and teasing jokes by the slightly punch-drunk owners, who were peculiar indeed, but warm and kind and performed their duties with joy. An extensive, delicious lunch of slightly sweet and smokey grilled meats was followed by even more extensive tasting of the regional wines.

In fact we had a very pleasant red from Dardagny (Domaine de Chafalet, by producer Guy Ramu) called Le Mephisto (www.domainedechafalet.ch for more info!)

Suddenly, the chef bounded out of the kitchen, eagerly urging us to come see what he had just picked in the forest behind the restaurant.  GG and her friends were dumbfounded to see, sprawled across the kitchen counter, a pile of turgid porcini mushrooms. “Come back for dinner” said the chef “and I will serve you a little taste of these!”


Sure enough, a few bottles of wine later, GG and company found themselves sitting once again to eat at the little village restaurant. As promised, the porcini came out as a little amuse-bouche, fried and served in a warm butter sauce with garlic and parsley. The mushrooms were devastatingly good. Porcini, fresh from the forest and onto the plate, now this was a thing of fairy tales!

The Enchanted Forest in question

The Enchanted Forest in question

The following day, GG and her favorite foodie retraced the chef’s indications to the enchanted forest on a mission to find the plump porcini. The forest was drenched in rainwater, its soil flooded by enormous puddles. They slopped through the muddy sand, using a stick to peer beneath the ferns. And there, under a leaf, growing out of the moist sandy soil were the porcini they had tasted the night before. Jackpot! Finding the hidden treasures felt like an Easter egg hunt for adults!

small porcini hiding in the forest

small porcini hiding in the forest

Advancing slowly and methodically, it wasn’t long before they had filled their wicker basket with precious porcini of all shapes and sizes.

photo (1)

Once satisfied with their loot, GG and her companion bid farewell to the enchanted forest and made their way back home…. to make an awesome porcini risotto. Seriously, I just tried one of these babies fried in butter and it tastes nothing short of delicately seared foie gras!

Porcini risotto

Porcini risotto

The morel (I mean, moral) to the story

Now, there is an unspoken understanding among mushroom pickers that they do not reveal the location of their treasure troves. So this little village and its enchanted forest, Genevan though they may be, will remain mythical to you dear reader. Let it be a lesson though: go off the beaten path, make friends with the locals, break bread and drink their wine, and they might just point you straight to an enchanted forest.

Disclaimer – Mushroom picking is legal in Geneva within most of the region, except for certain protected areas. Technically, you are limited to picking 2kg of mushrooms per person per day. Also, mushroom picking can of course be very risky because many of them are toxic, and many of them look alike. Be sure you know exactly what mushrooms you are looking for, and don’t pick any that you’re not completely sure of.  For more info, check out http://etat.geneve.ch/dt/nature/champignons-274-2002.html

Thanks to one of my Facebook followers for also providing this info about a FREE service in Geneva that will check to make sure your mushrooms are safe: http://ge.ch/dares/service-consommation-affaires-veterinaires/champignons_faites_contr_ler_vos_cueillettes-1122-3570-7397.html

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