Slow Food Market, Hurry Back to Zürich !

Recognizable by its signature snail logo, the Slow Food organization is all about understanding more about the food we eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices impact the rest of the world.  Pretty much, everything that is lost with fast food !  While Slow Food Switzerland has been around since 1993, we just had our first ever Slow Food Market (Il Salone del Buon Gusto / Le Salon du Bon Goût) in Zürich, where local and regional producers connected directly with the public. Taste, discover, discuss and buy.  I had the pleasure of listening to Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini speak (in German, Italian and French !) about the concept of “Retour à la Nature“; the Terra Madre network of food communities, defined by place of origin; as well as how that all meshes with the values of Swiss artisans and consumers.  “Slow Food unites the pleasure of food with responsibility, sustainability and harmony with nature.”

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During three days in early November, over 150 small producers set up stands to share their passions for their products, educating us on family traditions, regional specialties, artisanal methods or the use of organic, fairtrade ingredients.  Of course there was cheese, plenty of it, as well as wine, assorted dried meats, oils and vinegars, spices and herbs, nuts and dried fruit…

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But you all know where I was spending most of my time – with the sweet producers, but of course.  So while you may think that Andrea Paternoster below is swirling and sniffing wine, that’s actually honey.  It was absolutely fascinating to smell and taste several of his varieties of Mieli Thun honey, comparing spicy notes with floral ones, contrasts between sweetness and bitterness, flavors and aromas that develop and change, just like when tasting wine – or chocolate.  Pasternoster calls himself not just a beekeeper, but a “color producer”; and each of his 24 honeys (acacia, dandelion, rhododendron, sunflower, heather, etc.) showed that, with its own distinctive color swatch, as well as origin and tasting notes.

When asked for his advice on the best way to experience honey, master beekeeper Pasternoster smiled and answered with a soft voice: “in the evening, in front of the fireplace, in a glass, with a spoon, your eyes closed… think about the most beautiful thing in your life,  so rare and precious.”  To him, his honey.  (New Yorkers, you can get his honey at Eataly in Manhattan)

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Béatrice Pittet and her husband Jean-Marc, of Gourmandises de Fribourg, had me equally captivated, as they made traditional Swiss bricelets fresh at the market, the smell drawing you to them (here’s a recipe).  A thick off-white batter, made with double cream, white wine, kirsch, white sugar and flour, is poured into a bricelet iron (looks like a flattened waffle iron) and baked for just a minute or two until dark brown.  Shaped by rolling them around a wooden cylinder while still warm, they have beautiful motifs from the iron itself and an amazingly light and crisp texture.  While best eaten plain, a “grosse gourmandise” as Béatrice called it, would involve dipping them in yet more double cream or even adding a thin piece of chocolate in the middle.

Lesson learned: don’t call it double crème de Gruyère, as I was promptly corrected, seeing as the entire canton of Fribourg makes double cream, not just Gruyère, the area that is clearly the most famous for it.  (Reminds me of Portuguese winemakers cringing when their wine from Douro is referred to as Porto.)

Another sweet stand that caught my eye turned out not to be 100% sweet after all.  Meringues in an assortment of 20 flavors, including raspberry and passionfruit (the two most popular), seasonal lebkuchen, apricot or rhubarb… and onion/Pinot Noir !  Eaten like chips during an aperitif, they can also be added to a salad or soup; garlic meringues apparently go especially well with game dishes.  Something to try at your next dinner party perhaps…  And be sure to pronounce their name, Scrounchs, like the sound they make when you eat them !

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When I first looked at the list of exhibitors at the show, there was one that jumped right out at me, and that I knew I simply could not miss: Nougalicious.  Had my name all over it.  You all know how much I love nougat (ah, Venice. Note to self: make more soon.)  Andy Williamson (below) and Annabelle Kastens brought their nougat from the south of France, where all varieties are made using lavender honey (harvested during July and August), almonds and pistachios; and following in the spirit of Slow Food, certified organic and fairtrade raw cane sugar and free range egg whites.  Depending on the flavor, the rest of the ingredients vary from apricots and rosemary to salted butter caramel and marzipan.  So many people mistake their big 4 kilo rounds for cheese that they box pieces in small round cardboard boxes, traditionally made for Camembert. Very clever.

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With my slice of dried fig and date nougat ready to go, I asked Andy to tell me more about the mint chocolate flavor that clearly caught my eye.  Turns out, it’s not one of the most popular among the flavors, but happens to be his favorite.  We have a lot in common.  I simply fell in love with it.  The fact that they use Valrhona 70% chocolate didn’t hurt.  Furthermore, we agreed on the fact that nougat should be sliced thick so you can really appreciate the texture, that soft chew nougat is known for.  And if you think the thicker the piece, the longer it lasts… think again.

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Slow Food Market
November 11-13, 2011*
Messe Zürich, Halle 9.1 + 9.2
Thurgauerstrasse 7
Zürich, Switzerland

*The dates have been announced for next year’s Slow Food Market: November 9-11, 2012

19 Responses to “Slow Food Market, Hurry Back to Zürich !”

  1. chriesi says:

    Great post about the market, I’ve also visited it. Was a very yummy experience! 🙂

  2. Rosa says:

    Wow, I wish I could have visited Zürich then and roamed through the stalls of that fabulous market!



  3. Kiki says:

    I know Slow Food from my stay in Italy – ages and ages ago – but I am not surprised to read that Zurich has its nose once more ‘dans le vent’….
    All the lovely things you evoke here made me shiver with anticipation and softly turn green with envy…

    the Bretzel: 30” to 1’ never more…. 🙂 but they are lovely even when burnt!!!!
    I won a Bretzel-Eisen by Jura once when I submitted a recipe that I literally typed into the typewriter (yes, I am that old!!) and sent off just with the hope to win any prize. And win I did – that famous Bretzel Iron. Have however no idea at all where it went – have moved so many times I must have given it away – but BOY did I produce tons of ‘Bretzeli’….

    With the honeys I don’t know…. I have often heard that every honey is best for you when you eat it where it comes from. So, when you eat honey from chestnuts, they should be from the area you live in or you should be eating it – let’s say – nel Ticino!! We have tons of acacia trees next to our house and the smell of their flowers drives me absolutely insane – so even it would make local honey, it’s a no for me…. We however love, and devour, locally produced honey in (too) large quantities.

    I would right now kill for some Tête de Moins…. that’s another instrument I once bought and no longer own – but then, it’s horrendously expensive to buy the TdM-locks here in France – so I dig in when in Switzerland!

    My sister makes the world’s best Aepfelringli (we call them cardboard rings but of course they are not cardboardy…., they are just absolutely delicious!)

    I let you have the meringues – I take the real stuff instead // but I agree wholeheartedly with Andy… il a raison!

    Merci for this delightful and mouth-watering trip in Zürich.

  4. Kiki says:

    Oh Kerrin, I just see that you’re no1 of the Zurich tours on TripAdvisor – CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

    TripAdvisor is a great tool to find out the honest opinion of fellow travellers and I try to write comments as often as I can (which is still never enough….).

    I am SO PLEASED for you!

    bisous, hugs, Kiki

  5. Emma says:

    I definitely don’t have as much insight into these products as the comment above me (wow!), but I have learned from this post that in order to eat slowly with healthy foods, one must wear strange clothing. And that areas of built-in extra fabric (i.e., shoulders) help you to digest more comfortably at the slow pace you are eating. Funny hats help too.

    Oh, just kidding:) But I do like the attire.

    Mielicromia, I love it. What a clever way to market such a delicious product! Mmm, oil and pepper meringues… I think I’d stick with the sweet side of the spectrum.

  6. Kerrin says:

    chriesi, thanks ! Glad you enjoyed the market too. What was your most delicious find ?

    Rosa, you’ll have to roam those aisles next year – it will be coming back to Zürich early November again, yay !

    Kiki, as Emma said, your comments are hard to beat, wow ! Thank you so much for sharing all that above. Where to begin – ah yes, brava !! Congrats on winning for your Bretzeli recipe ! I can’t believe you don’t have your Bretzel iron anymore though – what a treasure that would be. As for honey, I love eating thick (local of course !) honey on toasted bread with salted butter. What about you ? So I’ll leave all the cheese and savory stuff for you – and I’ll take your Bretzeli, your sister’s Aepfelringli and lots of meringues ! 😉

    –> Kiki, danke vielmal ! Really appreciate your positive words about Sweet Zürich on TripAdvisor !

    Emma, too funny !! Oh, if only Béatrice had gotten the memo, everyone in this post would have head gear of some sort, haha ! Very perceptive of you ! And you know I’m with you – always stick with the sweet side – of everything. 🙂

  7. Katy says:

    Oh my these pictures leave me terribly homesick for Europe. Your pictures totally bring me there. Thanks!

  8. jen laceda says:

    We have Slow Food Canada as well, but not sure if they have organized a market as extensive as this, if at all! I want to support local farmers, local artisans, and small businesses! I don’t want to shop for my food where they sell tires as well (that’s you, Wal-Mart!).

  9. mom says:

    I so enjoyed this post on the Slow Food Show. I is right on target for Zurich which is filled with impressive fresh food especially vegetables. Going to the markets in Zurich is such a treat because everything is fresh right from the ground! I know in NY there is a Slow Food Show but I don’t think it is as popular as it was in Zurich. The photography gave me such a wonderful visual of all the people and all the good things to eat. Thank you! Oh by the way…I will take the nougatine!

  10. Kiki says:

    @ mom:
    after you’ve had the Nougatine; let me tell you (as an insider) why Zurich is so ‘in’ with regards to Slow Food… In Switzerland, people generally are VERY aware of their food, the organic (bio) ‘wave’ has passed through our lovely country before others countries even knew there was a name for it. I stated this when living in England – I was devasted at the beginning to see what rubbish was sold. By the time we left, the South West (Devon) was at the forefront for both organic food, and also slow (honest and down to earth) quality food in UK. So, Switzerland IS a forerunner for most good things 🙂 (You’ll have to forgive me, I am Swiss first, and European after)

  11. Lemon says:

    This is interesting. I know about the slow food initiative, but have never been to a slow food market. When looking at all the lovely picutures I feel I definitely missed something.

  12. Kerrin says:

    Katy, thanks for coming along !

    jen, i could not have said it better myself !! 🙂

    mom, you know I love the markets here – and yes, the Swiss definitely value all that is local, seasonal, fresh and artisanal. A perfect match indeed. Oh, and don’t worry, I had plenty of nougat for you ! 😉

    Kiki, exactly ! As I was saying above, you are so right – the Swiss were indeed well ahead of the game. What is oftentimes a big effort or proactive campaign in certain countries – simply comes naturally to the Swiss. They would never have thought or done otherwise.

    Lemon, no worries, the Slow Food Market will be back here in 2012 ! 🙂

  13. sven says:

    dear kerrin

    thank you very much for you wonderfull article about our market. we’re happy you enjoyed your visit and we’re happy too with the succes of this first salone del gusto swiss style. I’d like to use the opportunitiy to invite everybody who wants to support our ideas and our work for good, clean and fair food to become a member of your national slow food organisation. In fact, we need money to keep things going further, even in Switzerland. And there are a lot of different projects to push: food sovereignity, taste education for children, food laws, building awareness by the consumers, saving knowledge of food manufacturing (for example raw milk butter), and so on. and, why not offer a membership for christmas?

    thank you very much and see you all, hopefully, next year at the slow food market!

    sven ahlborn
    member of the board of slow food switzerland

  14. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    What a wonderful write up of these slow food markets in Zurich. It’s looks amazing, and nothing like I’ve ever seen before. The food selection that you’ve shared with us is so tempting. Those meringues are crazy? Savoury flavoured ones? And eaten in salads? Wow, I really have to try that. The bricelets sound deliciously interesting. (Never heard of them before.) And lastly, the nougat. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a big wedge before? It’s like the size of cheese! 🙂

  15. Amanda says:

    Looks fantastic. You’ve made me miss all the local Swiss goodies I used to buy!

  16. Kerrin Rousset’s roundup of last week’s Slow Food market in Zurich | The Rambling Epicure says:

    […] how that all meshes with the values of Swiss artisans and consumers,” says Kerrin Rousset of My Kugelhopf.   “Slow Food unites the pleasure of food with responsibility, sustainability and harmony with […]

  17. Fergus Miller says:

    Hi Kerrin,
    Nice blog! I found it through a comment you made on SwissWatching! I also have a blog, its more savory than yours 😉 but I did used to be a Beekeeper!

  18. Kerrin says:

    Sven, many thanks to you for your comment here. The first Salone del Gusto Swiss style certainly did have a grand success – 7,400 visitors ! Those are all important projects you shared above, I hope they see fruition. And indeed, a Slow Food membership would be a wonderful holiday gift, thank you for sharing the idea !

    Julia, you would have loved that market ! So many fascinating products – and amazing to know they are all 100% in line with Slow Food principles. Savory flavored meringues included ! I could see you baking up a rosemary olive oil meringue, for example… 😉

    Amanda, so you have to come back to bring a suitcase full of them home with you !!

    Fergus, so glad you found MyKugelhopf, thanks ! Looking forward to checking out your site as well and getting some excellent savory tips ! 🙂 Very cool that you used to be a beekeeper ! So, any favorite places to buy honey in Zürich or Winterthur ?? (I have a favorite… let’s see if it’s the same !)

  19. Fergus Miller says:

    Hi Kerrin,
    I plan on keeping my own bees in the back garden in the next year. As for buying honey in – Winterthur it would be at the Market on either Tuesdays or Fridays. I usually buy my honey when a travel especially in France & sometimes in Italy. I find that Swiss honey can be a little too sweet – it will be interesting to see what my honey tastes like. Did you know that a worker bees life is about 6 weeks & that she makes about a teaspoon of honey in her life! Bees will fly up 1.5 kms to collect pollen & nectar. I am sure that Bees & Honey will feature in my blog soon!
    PS: You need to check my lost post out if you like White Truffles 😉

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