Talk About First Impressions !
It’s fun to look back at my photos from the summer of 2008 when I first moved to Zürich, and see what I took pictures of. There were buildings and structures so new and exotic to me that they stopped me in my tracks. Now I may pass by every day, and they are all too familiar. The old town near Lindenhof seemed like a regular labyrinth, yet now seems so very easy to navigate. There was one spot that I kept taking pictures of, every time we walked by; it was just a wall to me, but so fascinating and almost “hidden” amongst the small winding streets in the area.
Little did I know that it was the famous frescoed facade of a well known restaurant where the poet Goethe once stayed, and where I would have one of my best meals in Zürich.
We sat down inside Kaiser’s Reblaube and started to ponder the menu. Translation: skim through the pages, trying to find as many words as possible in German that we understood. All the while, munching on some warm, almost hot, nuts that were set down for us. Luckily, our German was not quite up to par, and it took us some time to figure out what to order – and thus, savor those nuts! We were then given a menu in French and a second bowl of nuts, seeing that the first quickly disappeared. We still needed some more time to decide between the many enticing dishes – Swiss cuisine with a modern touch and a real focus on fresh, seasonal products. The waitstaff (100% female in the ground floor restaurant where we ate) could hardly miss our excitement about those nuts that once again disappeared. One waitress returned giggling and this time, presented us with a much larger bowl of those nuts. It goes without saying that we finished that too, and would have received more, but told the waitresses that we needed to leave room for dinner!
The nuts were surely a sign of what was to come. Granted, our appetizers and main courses were not quite as addictive and we did not receive multiple plates of each. As for the dessert, a pineapple minestrone, I can’t say I would have minded… A cold pineapple “soup” with almonds and various dried fruit standing in for the pasta and vegetables. Plus a large scoop of vanilla chile ice cream. A nice kick to soften the sweetness and acidity of the other ingredients. Talk about first… and last impressions. And all the while, absolutely impeccable service.
I asked one of the waitresses if she could share the recipe for those nuts. Thinking it was some highly guarded secret, I couldn’t believe she rattled it right off – rosemary, sugar, butter. Gee, no wonder they were so good! I asked if she could send me the exact proportions, as I’d love to make them at home. Patience paid off. She did! And I have now tried the recipe several times. These nuts are awfully good – real crunchy with a mix of sweet and savory, addictive for sure, whether hot or cold. But nowhere near as good as the real deal in the restaurant.
Almost Kaiser?s Reblaube?s Irresistible Nuts
Adapted from the original recipe for Reblaubennüsse
1 1/4 cups (175 grams) shelled almonds
1 cup (130 grams) cashew nuts
1 Tablespoon chopped rosemary
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon flour
1/2 Tablespoon (7 grams) butter, melted
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celcius). Put nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes, giving a shake halfway through. In the meantime, mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add the toasted nuts to the bowl and mix well.