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A guide to Swiss cuisine and where to eat it

From the capital Bern to Crans Montana or Arosa, Swiss traditional cuisine is a delight in every canton

“Swiss cuisine combines German, French and northern Italian cuisine, and this has helped generate many regional specialities, based on a few basic, local ingredients. Some dishes have, however, gone beyond local boundaries and have become popular throughout Switzerland.” We are talking to Nicolas Bideau, Ambassador and head of Presence Switzerland. “For example, potatoes are the basic ingredient for many cantonal recipes, and also of a national dish, Rösti, grated potatoes sautéed in a saucepan. Milk is used to produce 450 types of cheese, some of them renowned worldwide, and used in turn to prepare two national specialties: fondue, melted cheese with pieces of bread, and raclette, slices of melted cheese with potatoes and pickles. Of course milk is also an important ingredient for another famous Swiss product, namely milk chocolate.”

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Other local specialities include over 200 varieties of bread, 223 varieties of wine including 40 local wine varieties, and 400 types of salted or smoked sausage. The names of these cured meats reflect the country's linguistic regions, such as luganighetta in the Ticino, Italian-speaking region, the Germanic Olma Bratwurst, and the saucisson vaudois and saucisse aux choux of the Lake Leman region. “At EXPO in Milan,” says Nicolas, “Switzerland had a unique opportunity to showcase its agri-food prowess to an international audience. The restaurant in the Swiss pavilion presented a series of high-quality, competitively-priced gastronomic specialities, with an exclusive selection of Swiss wines.”

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Nature has always been an important element in Swiss cuisine. “For example,” continues Nicolas, “in the early 1900s a Swiss physician, Dr. Bircher, developed a breakfast recipe which later spread all over the world: Birchermüesli, consisting of yogurt, oatmeal, fresh and dried fruits.”

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Raclette, fondue and chocolate are important in projecting Switzerland's image abroad, but in terms of value, there are other more significant products. Switzerland exports more coffee than chocolate and cheese put together, and in recent years this has been heightened by the Nespresso phenomenon. In 2013, Switzerland's total agricultural exports reached 9 billion Swiss francs, 40% up when compared to 2002; coffee exports alone represented over 2 billion Swiss francs in 2013, 1825% greater than in 2002.

0L2A4338Food festival in Bern

We ended our conversation with Nicolas Bideau by asking him his favourite Swiss dishes. “I love Etivaz cheese accompanied by Petite Arvine white wine; as dessert, Meringue double crême. And my favourite restaurant is Abbaye de Montheron, at the like-named hotel in Montheron, near Lausanne.”

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The three best restaurants in Switzerland for authentic cuisine

Schwellenmätteli Restaurant Bern

Schwellenmatteli-FH-StimmungSchwellenmätteli Restaurant Bern

One of Bern's most beloved restaurant, Schwellenmätteli stands proud along the River Aare with a beautiful view of the old town. From November to February, you can enjoy a lovely fondue from the famous‘Mölkerei Schönried’. And if you are in Bern from Wednesdays 'till Saturdays, look for the fondue of the day, which is perfectly complemented by the wine list. www.schwellenmaetteli.ch

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Bündernstube

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On a lovely, crispy evening, what can be more wonderful than enjoying piping hot fondue in a warm and cosy restaurant up in the mountains like Tschuggen Grand Hotel's? From traditional to truffle-licious, many types of fondues are served, while raclette and a wide variety of local specialties, including some excellent Grisons wines, will prove to be a pleasant surprise. www.tschuggen.ch

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Restaurant Chetzeron

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Situated right on the slopes of beautiful Crans Montana ski resort, Restaurant Chetzeron seduces not only with its awesome view, sunny terrace, but also with its fine cuisine. Using only the region's best seasonal ingredients, the menu is authentically local with a touch of originality. Admire the Pleine Morte Glacier over a glass of wine and your experience is complete. www.chetzeron.ch

1 Schwellenmätteli Restaurant
2 Tschuggen Grand Hotel – Bünderstube
3 Chetzeron