October 19, 2019

A day by the north shore

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I bid farewell to the Mandarin Oriental Geneva bright and early, and headed to the Gare de Genève Cornavin for my morning train out of town.  I'm meeting Mr. and Mrs. B, who are taking me sightseeing today.  This is my third time in Geneva, and honestly I didn't get to see much of the area around Lake Geneva on my previous trips.  My friends very kindly picked me up from the train station near their home, and we drove to the vineyard terraces of Lavaux - which have been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It was, unfortunately, drizzling and gray.  Not really possible to take pretty pictures of the lake today.  Oh well...

Our first stop was Lavaux Vinorama - a tasting room where one can sample wines from many different small producers.  To be honest, I haven't had much experience with Swiss wines, not to mention good Swiss wines... but I was willing to keep an open mind and try.  We ordered a few glasses and shared them, taking a few sips of each.  The tasting notes are here.

Lunch was at Là-Haut, a restaurant in Chardonne with views of the lake.  Mr. and Mrs. B had been here when it was under the former chef, and they were curious how the style would have changed under new chef Mathieu Bruno.

Our meal stated with a few mises en bouche:

This was cucumber, verbena, and lemon.  After a nice and refreshing hit, turned somewhat bitter in the middle.

Marscapone and beetroot (!!!)

Sablé with cream of carrot 

This was a trio of tomato - with sorbet, gelée, and confit.  This was really nice and refreshing, with some very small pine nuts on the side.  But the best thing?  That little wedge of panna cotta made with lardo di Colonnata.

I took the Menu Expression, which is the longest on offer.

Pressé de potimarron et foie gras aux baies de siltimur, malt torréfié et houblon - didn't really catch what the meringue and the coulis were made of as my French wasn't good enough...  The coulis seemed to have been made with honey.  The toasted malt and hops biscuit on top was pretty heavy and smoky in terms of flavors.

We have a chunk of red kuri squash and some foie gras mousse inside, with a layer of squash brunoise at the bottom.

Suprême de perdreau cuit au sel et laqué au balsamique de pomme.  Crémeux de champignons, cuisse confite et café.  Salade végétale à l'huile de chardon - very pretty presentation.  It's also game season, so we were all pretty excited.

The partridge breast was surprisingly raw, but not particularly interesting. The “robe” of Piedmontese hazelnuts was very fragrant, though. We’ve also got a tartare of partridge leg meat at the bottom.

The surprise was the panna cotta on the side stuffed with foie gras mousse, because the coffee pierced through the mushroom flavors.

Mille-feuille de colraves et baies de Timut et pistaches d'Iran.  Glace de boudin et jus aux baie de cannelier - the millefeuille was made of kohlrabi, but after cooking it smelled a lot of Chinese preserved mustard (榨菜). In fact the flavors were also similar, albeit much milder without the traditional chili. The eye-opener was the boudin noir ice cream, and the flavors were pretty damn strong. I love it! It reminded me of the first time I tasted Alvin Leung’s lap mei faan (臘味飯) around 15 years ago, where he served up an ice cream made of Cantonese preserved liver sausage (潤腸). The kadaif lent a little texture to the boudin.

This wasn’t what was on the menu, but a combination of barb and lobster, with fennel and verjus emulsion. The barb looked pretty with the piment d’espelette flakes on top, and it was OK, except that I found a small piece of bone in my serving…. The lobster was well-executed and retained that springy, crunchy texture. The fennel frond had pretty intense anise flavors.

Filet de chevreuil au sapin et chanterelles d'automne.  Cônes de céleri fumé, pomme et coing - the roe filet was OK.

Inside the cone made of celeriac, we've got bits of chopped roe along with some brunoise of celeriac.

Fraîcheur de yuzu et thé vert - yuzu (柚子) cream with a yuzu reduction, along with a biscuit at the bottom.  Very nice.

Carré praliné aux noisettes du Piémont et mandarine - chocolate mousse, mandarin sorbet, and hazelnuts.  Oh and caramel.  Yum!

Mignardises - chocolat dulce, pear pâté de fruits, lychee chocolate, and Indonesian chocolate.

OF COURSE we were gonna have some wine.  Mr. B really wanted me to try one of the most famous Swiss chardonnays, and I was very curious.

2016 Gantenbein Chardonnay - decanted prior to serving.  Very big nose of toast, more ripe and mature, more buttery, more coffee, and more open and flamboyant. Very delicious.

But I was itching to do a comparison, as I saw something else on the wine list at an irresistible price. Besides, it would be so much more educational to do a side-by-side comparison of two chardonnays...

2015 Coche-Dury Meursault - initially very restrained, showing toasty notes and lots of flint.  Thirty-minutes after decanting the toasty notes got much stronger, but the palate also remained lean with higher acidity.  This was obviously more complex, with lemon citrus notes.  One hour after decanting this became more elegant.

This was not a bad lunch at all!  There were quite a few nice surprises, and I would be curious to see how the chef develops his repertoire over time.

It was drizzling again now, and we drove past Le Corbusier's Villa Le Lac on the way to Lausanne.  I wanted to stop by The Olympic Museum to see what kind of memorabilia were housed there.

There was a whole section on the Olympic Flame and torches, and naturally this included the one used for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. There's also one of the drum sets used for the opening ceremonies, and I still remember that very vividly.

They've also got a whole section on the equipment used and uniforms worn by athletes, which included many pieces which were part of Olympic history.  For example, there's the dress worn by Katarina Witt at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, where her Carmen beat Debbie Thomas' Carmen.  I remember that very well.

Then there were the shoes worn by the great Sergey Bubka at the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul.

They also had the ensemble Carl Lewis wore at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles while collecting 4 gold medals...

But for me, the most amazing piece was the shoes worn by the legendary Jesse Owens, who won 4 gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Games.  It's interesting to note that Jesse's shoes were made for him by none other than Adi Dassler.

We were debating about whether to have a simple dinner at home, or to go have fondue while I'm in Switzerland.  In the end we were all a little tired, so we stayed in at my friends' place.  That didn't stop my generous friend from pulling out a fantastic bottle of red to go with the steak he was cooking...

2005 Cheval Blanc - decanted for 1½ hours prior to serving.  Pungent and very bretty, a little dirty, smoky.  Lots of concentration here, with decent amount of fruit underneath the smoke.

It was a pretty long day, but I was really happy to see my friends. I think I may have managed to convince them to come over to Hong Kong in 2021...


Markus Schmidt said...

thanks for that review - I must try the restaurant. The Gantenbein Chardonnay is indeed top, and I was curious about the comparison with the Coche Dury (what a good price !!!). If you happen to come next to the area, I might be tempted to invite you for a comparison of the Gantenbein Pinot Noir with a top red Burgundy such as Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru les Amoureuses....
By the way, there is a shop on HK Island which sells the Gantenbein wines (at not too bad prices).

Markus Schmidt said...

after a long hiatus and confinement restrictions we finally made it to Là Haut for a very very nice and long lunch in beuatiful late summer weather. Thank you for your review - we pre-ordered a bottle of the 2015 Coche Dury which had run out of stock but the sommelier managed to pick up another few bottles.... as you wrote, this opened up once decanted and drank beautifully after 45-50 minutes

Peech said...

I'm glad you made it to Là Haut. I'm jealous that you got to open a Coche at such a good price...

BTW I am buying some Gantenbein here in HK.

Markus Schmidt said...

Enjoy the Gantenbein in HK - the allocation here in Switzerland is ludicrously small, especially for the chardonnay, so I had to order some more at a wine shop in Luxembourg....

California Heating said...

Thoughtful blog, thanks for posting.


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