A Sweet Feast at Lampart’s
When I learned that my fellow sweet toothed dessert blogger, Brian Jaeger, and I share not only the same passion but the same birthday, two things were very clear. There would be a celebratory meal. And there would be many desserts.
To add even more sweetness to the table, my friend and baking guru Nick Malgieri happened to be in town visiting. So off the three of us went, on the train to Hägendorf for a pilgrimage to Reto and Anni Lampart’s restaurant.
I love dining with Brian, who selects one savory dish (always foie gras if it’s an option) and then orders the entire dessert menu. That’s my kind of eating partner ! (I could skip the savory and do just fresh breads with outstanding salted butter and desserts myself.) Our meal at Lampart’s was a real feast, with numerous plates of all sizes to open our palates, cleanse our palates or simply delight our palates. There were introductory treats from the kitchen, pre-desserts, main desserts, in-between desserts and post-desserts galore.
Our orchestra began with (clockwise from below left) a homemade bread selection showing off the rich selection of Swiss grains and various baking styles (caraway, sunflower, thyme/rosemary, tomato/parmesan and my personal favorite, with lye); a single French fry served alongside garlic purée and a cup of lobster bisque; carrot purée and hoshimeji mushrooms for me (beef carpaccio and egg yolk cream for the non-pregnant gentlemen) with couscous and a ragout of red peppers; and Nick’s red mullet, served paella style.
My two highlights of the meal, one savory and one sweet, both displayed an immense creativity and beauty in their presentations, and showed off the finest quality of local ingredients possible. Easily the most gorgeous plate of potatoes, onions, leeks and mushrooms I have ever seen, my vegetarian course was a work of art. Again, all ingredients were sourced locally, even the fresh summer truffles – from Hägendorf ! Who knew ?! There were pickled onions, bolettos, chanterelles and precious edible flowers. The main chocolate dessert was equally impressive. A crunchy and creamy variation using Felchlin’s Grand Cru Maracaibo dark couverture, fresh raspberries and rich local cream (most likely from the cows we could see grazing across the way from the restaurant terrace). It was a masterful play of of textures and flavors, light and rich at the same time.
Brian had always spoke so highly of this restaurant to me, unduly impressed by the quality of the food, the service, the original creations… and the desserts by Anni Lampart, who is not nearly as well known as she should be. He certainly agreed with me on that chocolate dessert above: “This dessert had everything I look for: precise execution, well-balanced flavors (how can anyone go wrong with dark chocolate and raspberry ?) and high quality produce – a flawless dessert, in my humble opinion. I just fell in love with that plate, so gorgeous…”
Two of the fourteen dessert plates (14 !) placed before us were the Lamparts’ take on true classics: Peach Melba, with peaches Brian deemed cooked to perfection; and a deconstructed Saint Honoré with thyme, mint and salted caramel mousse. True lovers of fresh berries, they showcased strawberries before the season was completely over: with basil sorbet and the essence of ginger and lime; and with white chocolate mousse and caramelized celery.
After so many desserts, the only logical thing to follow… are more desserts. Chocolate praline pops filled with passionfruit sorbet put smiles on all of our faces, hazelnut éclairs, a classic this time left untouched; and “Grandma’s sweets,” including spiced chocolate brownies, lemon blueberry cakes, plum cake and the petit four that stole the show, Schlorzifladen (cake, pear paste, egg), a specialty from Toggenburg.
It was a true parade of desserts, continuing until we could barely see the plates in front of us due to nightfall, one of the last presenting us with fresh mini doughnuts served plain, filled with cream or with raspberry jam. Chefs Reto and Anni Lampart have rightfully earned two Michelin stars in their Relais Chateaux British style townhouse, and will clearly have no problem keeping them. To quote Brian once again, “They’re a true dream team, a gastronomic powerhouse.”