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A guide to Piemonte discovering white truffle, wine & culture in Langhe, Monferrato & Roero

My personal highlight: Learning 1:1 from a truffle connoisseur how to recognize a quality white truffle !

The aim of my piedmont travel this year was all in the light of the International Alba White Truffle Fair Fiera Internazionale del Tartufo Bianco d’Alba. It takes place always beginning of October until end of November and attracts people from all of the world. At the fair local truffle sellers gather to have their tartufi officially evaluated for quality before they are ready to be sold. Beside truffles you can try and buy pasta (with and without truffle), olive oil, wines and delicious roasted hazelnuts. During the fair there is the chance to attend a variety of workshops or tasting classes, too.

White Alba truffle can be found only from late September to January

What I found special at this fair is the chance to talk to the truffle hunters also called “trifulau” and get all the insights about this unique product. They are legendary characters who live in secrets and observation wandering around forests in search of truffles for resale at restaurants, markets, fairs. To see with one’s eyes the relationship between man and dog is an other added value.

What exactly is a truffle?

The term truffle comes from the vulgar Latin “tufera” which had in the Middle Ages negative resonances, even poisoned fruit, of plant tumorTruffles are the fruiting body of mushrooms. They born and live under the ground. For this reason they are called hypogea and belong to the family of Tuberaceae, class of Ascomiceti.

Truffles exist due to a symbiosis with the roots of plants from which minerals and other nutrients are exchanged. This is why the type of plant affects the characteristics of truffles: for white, the main responsible plants are wild poplaroaklime and wild willow.

How to recognize if a truffle is of high quality?

With a sensorial analysis of touchingsmelling and sight you understand its quality. The price of truffles increases when the aesthetic appearance is impeccable. Truffles with slight cuts or holes, maintaining a flavor can cost much less. An excessive amount of ammonia is a sign of a truffle to be discarded, as well as a bad consistency. That is why these evaluations are important and help to understand if the price you pay is good. At the fair you can get every truffle you buy checked by an official jury.

Planning your Piedmont trip – include one of the most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site: the wine yards as Langhe, Monferrato and Roero and several food stops along the way!

First stop on your route: Alba

Alba is a territory that offers an excellent food choice (the region counts to one of Italy’s highest concentrations of Michelin-starred restaurants) and some of the globe’s most beloved powerhouse wine regions as Barolo, Barbaresco and Asti.

One of my personal highlights was the walk through Alba centre where I got seduced by the unmistakable smell of roasted hazelnuts coming from the company Ferrero

Another fun fact: the Slow Food movement was born in Piedmont. Here every year different culinary events as the fair “cheese” takes place where people from all over the world join to try and explore different delicacies..

This area is stamped with grand cathedrals, five-star hotels, and meandering cobblestone-lined streets. In the mood to know more about cultural sites to visit, check this site!

Visiting Asti!

In Asti I absolutely recommend to see the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, it is one of the most important Gothic cathedrals in Piedmont. Want to add a culinary experience to your cultural site visit? Buy one of the best hand made 100% hazelnut cake at the shop: Daniella! This laboratory creates artisan biscuits, tarts and cakes that you won’t find anywhere else!

Rumor say, that Dagobert Duck used to live in one of the tower located in the medieval heart of Asti: the tower of the Palazzo Gazzelli di Rossana, in the city centre

Explore Barbaresco and the home of one of the most famous Italian wine producers called Gaia

My favorite village on the trip was the city of Barbaresco. This is the home of one of the most famous Italian wine producers called Gaia, a family business founded in 1859, when Giovanni Gaja turned his tavern into a winery. Thanks to this genious, Barbaresco was lifted from the shadows of neighbouring Barolo! Gaja produces four great Italian red wines as Barbaresco, Brunello di Montalcino, Bolgheri (the region of the Tuscany) and even Barolo.

Once in Barbaresco make sure to make it all the way up to the Barbaresco tower. The view from the 3d level is breathtaking. At the top the view goes beyond the Tanaro river, situated roughly 200 meters below, towards the Langhe, the Roero, the Astigiano and Monferrato and as far as the Alpine mountain chain. This is where you get a complete picture of this area.

Driving through Piedmont you can admire landscapes of kiwi fields and hazelnuts trees!

Are you in the mood to experience some local food producers and taste home made raw veal salsiccia in Bra?

In the city of Bra you see mostly small, family-run shops. A must try is the raw “Salsiccia di Bra”. The sausage is made of lean cattle meat mixed with belly pork (20-30%), water and a secret mix of spices. Buy it at the shop Macelleria Tibaldi Davide.

Put this on your list, too: the oldest pastry in town “Caffe Pasticceria Converso“. Since 1838 here 100% handmade pastry made of pure hazelnuts and other genuine local ingredients are created with pure passion.

How to find wineries for your Piedmont wine tour

In a previous blog story I introduced the region of Langhe. Get all travel information on how to best organize your wine tour here!
A new wine producer I discovered during this year’s trip is the winery Coppo. Coppo is one of the oldest family-run wineries in all of Italy. The origins of the winery date back to 1892. The major part of the winery’s production centers on BarberaMetodo Classico sparkling wines.

May absolute favorite white sparkling wine I found here: The Riserva Coppo sparkling wine brut metodo classico. It’s perlage is very fine and the taste elegant and not too dry!

Where to eat on your Piedmont trip

  • La libera, Alba – To recommend for a dinner in the city centre of Alba. Exquisite dishes as Carne cruda battuta al coltello (raw meat), Vitello tonnato, Ravioli di gallina nel suo brodo or Agnolotti del Plin with truffle in an ambience that takes care about design.
  • Ristorante Piazza Duomo, Alba – 3 Michelin Star absolutely worth making this experience and try Chef Enrico Crippa’s unventive, artistic Italian dishes matched with superb wines from the region.
  • Osteria dei Meravigliati , Canelli  – A place with to enjoy a traditional lunch with starters as Gobbo Di Nizza with a fontina cheese sauce and an egg (with or without truffle) and some home made Tajarin pasta (typical local pasta) with truffle.
  • Restaurant Campamac, Barbaresco – a 1 Michelin Star restaurant with one of the most beautiful wine cellars in Italy! Chef Maurilio Garola
  • Il Cascinale Nuovo, Isola D’asti, 1 Michelin Star, Chef Walter Ferretto, find traditional and innovative cuisine using great Piedmontese ingredients with the scents and flavors from every corner of the world.
  • Restaurant Fre – Monforte D’Alba, 1 Michelin Star, Chef Paolo Meneguz, a top-notch gastronomic experience that’s rooted in the region but holds an international, modern appeal.

Where to sleep on your Piedmont trip

A warm thank you to the tourism office of Langhe Monferrato and Roero and especially to our guide Gaia that made this press trip very precious and memorable.

I have more Italy travel stories for you! A gourmand weekend trip to Parma ? Enjoy my blog!

 

 

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A culinary weekend on a boat: Excellence Gourmet Festival 2019

My personal highlight: My soul feels home on the water, a Gourmet Festival on a boat is THE a foodies happy place!

Welcome to Excellence Gourmet Festival.
A 2-day gourmet trip between Basel and Strasbourg that takes place every autumn. This year from October 18 to November 24, 2019. Booking takes place through the travel agency Mittelthurgau, click here right away, if you like to book a slot. Cost start at 285 CHF to 500 CHF per person (price vary depending on the guest gook). The transfer, overnight on the boat, food and breakfast are included in the price.

What to expect on the gourmet trip?

Excellent top cuisine, 48 Michelin stars and 560 Gault Millau points, a dedicated crew, live music and a breathtaking sunset on the Rhine river. Sounds like pure relaxation for soul and palate, doesn’t it? The concept of the Excellence Gourmet Festival, taking place this year for the 7th time offers an amazing choice of well renewed top Chefs. 39 endowed creative cooks from Switzerland and the world surprise foodies of all ages. Everything is prepared fresh and ad hoc on the boat. The evening program is moderated by different Swiss celebrities as for example Sven Epiney or Christa Rigozzi during my attendance. Their interaction with the Chefs was excellent, they reveal a lot of insights of the Chefs with their interactive dialog between every course. The atmosphere is very relaxed. While dining you don’t even notice how smooth the ship moves to on the river!

A 2-day gourmet trip with sightseeing, culinary and complete relax on the river

The journey starts with the transfer to Strasbourg by a comfy bus. In Strasbourg you get time to stroll through the city either by yourself or with an organized guide. In the early afternoon there is a transfer to get on board of one of the Gourmet boats. In my case it was the Excellence Princess. After the check-in in my Junior Suite with spectacular view over the Rhine river a welcome aperitive with sweets, salty snacks and live music everyone is set to start the gourmet experience. The perfect chance to get to know other foodies on board and discover every cozy corner of the Excellence Princess!
My favorite spot: one of the sofas in the glass covered skylounge. Here is where I slurp happy and full of excitement my aperol spritz!

The Culiniray program – Chef Flynn McGarry from New York (Restaurant Gem)

The dining highlight of my day: Flynn McGarry from the Restaurant gem in New York. Media describe him as the a prodigy of cuisine. Listening to the interview I immediately understood, that he followed very early his idea and passion of cooking. And guess having a family around that understands someones passion is something unique you can ever wish. But still, yes, it’s very impressive that he started at the age of 10 and now with 20 it kind of seems that lot’s of his dreams are already fulfilled! Flynn gives me the impression of a very humble, creative and somehow mature personality with his young age! Obviously he discovered very early what he wants to do in his life and it is motivating, feeling the light and ambitious vibes he has. The interview held by Sven Epiney during the evening revealed a lot of funny insights, too.

The menu comes with a wine pairing. My favorite drop: the Carmelo Rodero Reserva, 2014, Bodegas Rodero, Ribera del Duero/Spain.

The menu at a glance

Starter: Scallop Chips with raw scallops and preserved citrus  – layers of Kohlrabi and pear

1 course: Lightly cooked beet “ceviche” with salted plums and smoked chili

2 course: Grilled cabbage with oyster and grilled kale emulsion

3 course: Layers of squash and rutabaga with gruyere and black pepper

4 course: Celery root schnitzel with truffels and rye

5 course: Smoked and roasted duck breast with radicchio and duck xo sauce, salad on the side stew of druck and grilled cicorino rosso to share

Dessert: Quince granita with sage semifreddo

The combination of flavors, ingredients, spices and herbs used made that mainly focussed plant based menu very surprising but in the same time simple and comforting. The celery root schnitzel with the super crispy layer was fabulous yummy.

My  favorite dish: the pumpkin in a creamy, tasty gruyere sauce, perfectly balanced, a dish that I will try to cook at home! The dessert was a sage semifreddo and a quince granita, very mediterranean and a true delight to end the event in glory!

Accommodation on the maritime lady

The Excellence Princess gives you all comfort you can think of. I would describe it as a modern and elegant Swiss Grand Hotel on water! Find several options where to spend your free time. Choose between the glass covered skylounge, outside on the terrace or the elegant bar in the middle deck. In the mood of sauna or fitness? That’s available, too!

On the boat are 93 cabins with shower/bathroom, air conditioning, Sat-/TV, minibar, hair dryer, french balcony, spacious windows. Find three different categories of cabins: In the upper and middle deck: 16 m2 and a Junior Suite with 20 m2, both with a frz. balcony, double bed or single beds. Under deck: Cabin with 13 m2 single or double bed.
The life on board feels safe due to the very robust construction properties of the boat.

A very warm thank you to all of the staff on board that made my stay memorable and to the agency Pantarhei that invited me to this glamorous mini-holiday on the water.

In the mood of some more travel and food stories? Find inspiration here.

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Golden Autumn in the Swiss Alps – Discover Flims / Graubünden

My personal highlight: spending time walking through nature is the BEST way to connect and experience a destination.

Ever heard about the UNESCO World Heritage Site Tectonic Arena Sardona or the Rhine gorge? Or the two jewel alpine lakes named Cauma and Cresta?
Welcome to the Swiss alps in Graubünden, the home of giant peaks, vibrant forests and flowery mountain meadows!

This article shall inspire you for the perfect Alpine weekend trip! Flims offers all you want from the perfect autumn hide away. Get there in only 1.45 minutes by train from Zurich. By car in even 1.15 hours.

Must do on your trip: Relaxing walk to Caumasee & Crestasee

Caumasee is one of the most breathtaking mountain lakes in Switzerland, they call it the pearl of Flims. Experience this with your own eyes, pictures alone won’t make it. This lake is not that secret anymore, so make sure to get there early!

Embedded in a forest you find turquoise blue and crystal clear waters. Water temperature in summer is at an average of 21 Celsius, with a maximum around 24 Celsius. Around the lake you have spots to relax, you can even rent inflatable boat or bring your unicorn! The entrance fee from May – September is 12 CHF (adults),  6 CHF (kids). Find different areas for barbecue or just enjoy their restaurant for drinks & food. The car parking is close (15 min).

How to get there: You can walk (ca 45 min) or bike (ca. 15 min) from Flims Dorf or take a local bus (ca. 15 min,)

My insider tip: Crestasee. This lake is small and yet undiscovered from tourists. Stay here for a pick-nick or a BBQ at the fireplace close by. Go for a swim in summer! Entrance fee in summer is 7 CHF for adults and 3 CHF for kids.

Once in Crestasee plan some time to walk up to the observation deck called “Il Spir” (takes you about 4o min.). Enjoy a 180° view over the famous Rhine gorge also called  ‘Swiss Grand Canyon’. The platform was designed by the local architect Corinna Menn. Once up at Il Spir enjoy a lunch or dessert at the Restaurant Conn.  From here you have the choice to continue your hike to various destination, if you’re in the mood to stroll back to Flims Dorf  by horse and carriage, this is the spot where to do it. Book your ticket at the restaurant (20 CHF for adults 1 way, 13 CHF for kids, 1 way).

Suggested walk for a 2.30 hours , ca. 10 km trip departing from Flims Waldhhaus:

Trin-Mulin – Crestasee – Caumasee – Flims – Felsbachschlucht – Trin-Mulin

In the mood of some alpine action?

Experience pure adrenalin in the wild gorges while river rafting or take a hike along the craggy rock formations. An easily accessible hiking trail and several biking trails along the Rhine also present excellent opportunities to have a barbecue, create stone mounds or dip your feet in the water.

More into an active train ride through the Rhine Gorge?

The bizarre geological formations surrounded by old pine trees fascinate train passengers, hikers and river rafters from around the world. Experience the Rhine gorge from very close every Sunday. The adventure train, with its open observation carriages, takes a leisurely ride along the side of the river, amidst striking rock formations. Get your ticket and all details here. Tickets start from 24 CHF for adults and 12 CHF for kids.

Find more inspiration on activities on the website of Flims/Laax/Falera!

For your comfort and cozy stay I absolutely recommend “The Hide Hotel” in Flims located directly at the bus station and close to the slopes in winter! Get my full article here!

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The Hide Hotel Flims

My personal highlight: L O V E at first sight – architecture meats a modern alpine lifestyle

Welcome to Flims and to The Hide Hotel, a destination in Graubünden that will touch your heart! The hotel is located in the midst of nature, adjacent to the valley cablecar station, only a few metres away from the slopes, bus station and malls in the recently created apartment area “Stenna“.

The alpine pearl has been designed by the renowned Gothenburg-based and multi-award winning designer team from Stylt Trampoli.
All material and fabric chosen match perfectly together, this makes the ambience contemporary in unison with the natural surrounding of the beautiful alpine way of life. This can be experienced from the lobby to the rooms, in the SPA area and in their restaurants.

The cozy sofa around the fire place in the lobby lounge is the perfect spot where to sip an aperol spritz!

Accommodation

Find 42 double rooms and 5 suites located on the top floor of the Stenna building. Experience  a penthouse lifestyle! All rooms are spacious and functional. The Furniture is timeless and very warm. The terraces are super large and invite to relax! Choose from a double room or Junior Suite. Find more about special packages and rates here.

Forgot to pack your backpack? No problem, use the practical backpacker you’ll find in the room!

SPA & Relax

Take your SPA bag and find out where to relax best! Finnish Panorama Sauna with direct mountain view, a steam-room, saunarium, rain showers, relaxation room, as well as a private SPA area for two people spread on over 1000 m2.

For the sporty ones, enjoy their state-of-the-art Fitness room!

Restaurant & Drinks

The Deli offers cuisine from Lebanon, Israel and the Arabic region combined with regional specialities. The relaxed atmosphere is expressed through a warm alpine interior style. Perfect for lunch or dinner. I love the open kitchen that allows to look over the shoulders of the Chefs.

My personal highlight: Roasted chicken breast in a Tagine perfectly aromatized and tender, mixed with fried eggplant squares and mozzarella, because oriental meets local!

The Hide Dinner is the restaurant of the renewed Chef Adraian Tschanz you should absolutely try.

Choose out of vegetarian or vegan dishes made with regional ingredients. The menu includes traditional plates combined with a cuisine Adrian Tschanz experiences all around the world.

Once the accommodation has been chose, it’s time to discover all activities around Flims as hiking, climbing, biking or skiing! Explore the most beautiful Alpine Lake with unique turquoise waters called Caumasee. I put together some suggestions for you in this blog post here.

The Hide Hotel – Address: Via Nova 80, Flims 7017, Switzerland – www.thehidehotelflims.com/

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Grand Resort Bad Ragaz

My personal highlight: Relaxing in the oasis of wellness & health famous for its 36.5 degrees Celsius water – Flying my senses high with an exceptional fine dining experience at IGNIV

Bad Ragaz is a cozy small village in the canton of St. Gallen. It is the home of a famous natural spring. It’s a popular spa and health resort destination in Europe. Beside the wellbeing factor you find wonderful art & sculptures all over the Resort and the tiny village. This place is home of The Swiss Triennial Festival of Sculpture, called Bad RagARTz. An event of international fame visited from artists all over Europe.

Discovered accidentally in 1240, the salubrious effects of Pfäfers’ mineral springs were recognised early on. The famous natural scientist, physician and philosopher Paracelsus, who is regarded as the first spa physician of Bad Pfäfers, worked there in 1535 and wrote an entire book on the therapeutic effects of the water with a temperature of 36.5 degrees Celsius. 

Spoil your soul in the Thermal Water World

Experience a holistic wellness program that suits to all that want to maintain health or improve it, need relax or simply love to enjoy a swim. In the “Thermal Spa” you will find an extensive water world with the Helenabad (35°C) or Sportbad (29°C) pools. The Tamina Therme is the cherry on the top. It’s a public wellbeing oasis and haven of relaxation! Get more on the spa offer here. Enjoy their Garden Pool with an outdoor bar from May to September.

Your perfect stay at Grand Hotel Quellenhof

Get to know the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz

Located about three hours by car from Munich and one hour’s drive from Zurich you will find an excellent variety of hospitality. There are 4 different Grand Hotels. Three five stars: The Grand Hotel Quellenhof (as of 1000 CHF), the SPA Suites (suites as of 890 CHF), the GRAND HOTEL HOF RAGAZ (rooms as of 450 CHF) and the Palais Hotel (Relais & Chateaux Bad Ragaz) (Rooms as of 450 CHF). Further There is a Medical Center & Clinic Bad Ragaz, Thermal Spa’s and an Events & Conference center. From classic, opulent, traditional to purist design. Find an option for every taste.
For your culinary experience: choose out of seven restaurants, four bars, a bistro, a café and sushi takeaway for a variety of delights! Don’t miss the exhibition that brings you closer the complete history around the Grand Resort especially created in occasion of the 150 years of anniversary!
More on the culinary experiences in the blog post below!

The resort is also very popular among golfers. It is the only resort in Switzerland to have two golf courses of its own. One is suitable for beginners, the other for professionals.

The Grandhotel Quellenhof – My design eye-catchers

Last July, after only five months of construction and an investment of CHF 45 million, the completely renovated Grand Hotel Quellenhof once again opened its doors. The famous Swiss interior designer Claudio Carbone redesigned the Grand Hotel Quellenhof with a concept focussed around both the hotel’s history and its thermal water.
The 16 metre high chandelier is one of the highlights. 2500 impressive blue and white spheres made of mouth blown glass shines in the stairway.
The design and size of the wine counter around the entrance of the Restaurant Verve by Sven captured my attention, too. Not to mention the fabulous modern and elegant interior of the restaurant Verve by Sven made with natural materials paired with warm colours, creating a lively and vibrant atmosphere!

Accommodation at Grand Hotel Quellenhof

Choose between different sized rooms as the Junior suite with 50 m2 with an elegant and seductive atmosphere! The materials and colors used for the interiors transmit the art of tradition meeting modernity with the special luxury touch. Explore the minibar with delicious soft drinks or and delicate red wine. What captured my attention was the bathroom! An image of the astonishing “Tamina Schlucht” overlooking the bath tube, an exceptional craftsmanship result lasered on a natural black stone. The parquet is made of Swiss natural wood and a dream to walk on. The view from the room overlooks the beautiful alps and is just the perfect setup for a peaceful treat.

A warm thank you to Grand Hotel Quellenhof for giving me the opportunity to be the first guest sleeping in the new suite!

Beside the Junior suites you find Junior suites Deluxe, (both 50 m2), Corner Junior suites (60 m2), Suites (80 m2), Grand Suites (100 m2), Royal suites (200 m2,  spacious lounge, living room, fireplace) and the legendary King Suite (270 – 600 m2 for luxury at the highest level).
Get more on the rooms here.

Gourmet Highlights at Grandresort Bad Ragaz

Choose out from local Swiss food to Asian specialities all the way to a modern fine-dining sharing experience and French haute cuisine. At Grand Resort Bad Ragaz you experience indulgence and style. Culinary art and atmosphere. The restaurants and Bars to choose out are:

  • VERVE BY SVEN (Health & Lifestyle Cuisine & refined mixed drinks and cocktails)
  • MEMORIES (Natural, local & fresh, delicate and puristic Cuisine)
  • IGNIV BY ANDREAS CAMINADA (1 Michelin Star, Sharing Fine Dining Experience)
  • OLIVES D´OR (sophisticated Mediterranean cuisine)
  • NAMUN (A masterpiece of Asian cuisine. With 13 GaultMillau points)
  • ZOLLSTUBE (Traditional & Charming, typical Swiss Cuisine & Swiss Beers)
  • SCHLOSS WARTENSTEIN (Fresh seasonal & regional Cuisine with the majestic view)
  • GLADYS (Club House Classics,
  • Snacks, Sushi & Salads at Golf Bistro, Café Therme or Sushi Take away Koiso
  • Bars, Get your drink at one of the 4 Bars at The Grand Resort Bad Ragaz: Verve by Sven Bar, Hof Bar, Salon Davidoff, Golden Wave Bar at the Casino Bad Ragaz

Absolutely to recommend: Get breakfast & lunch at “Verve by Sven”
The breakfast of my choice: Verve
Enjoy the healthy thermal drink water (36.5 °), a green smoothie.
Chia lone seed pudding, Granola with bee pollen, berries, a poached bio egg on a home made sour dough bread, tomato jam, Swiss tofu cream with lovage cress.

For lunch you can choose of daily menus that are prepared with healthy, ad fresh and seasonal ingredients. Absolutely to recommend: their cocktail with or without alcohol!

Fine Dining experience at IGNIV by Andreas Caminada & Breakfast/Lunch at Verve by Sven

Fine Dining Experience at IGNIV by Andreas Caminada

IGNIV by Andreas Caminada is the place where your valuable time gets enriched by enjoyment and culinary temptations. This 1 Michelin star restaurant surprises and seduces you with a fine dining sharing experience prepared by Chef de cuisine Silvio Germann & his staff. Every course comes in small plates and is perfectly combined with a wine chosen from Chef de Service and Sommelier Francesco Benvenuto. I love the fact that most of the wines are local and let evolve every bite of the carefully prepared dishes to a high level of taste.
The ambience at IGNIV is stylish, modern with the special touch of a traditional ancient living room. The candy shop captured my attention immediately! These hand made sweets are THE must take home after the dining experience!

Try the Fine Dining sharing experience at IGNIV

The name IGNIV derives from the Rhaeto-Romanic word “nest“. Materials such as brass elements and wood as well as the arrangement of the tables give the guest the feeling of being in a nest. Every course served as for example the egg royal (served in an egg shell) makes you experience this element of the nest.

We had a 3 course sharing experience with 5 surprise components! The Sharing experience comes with a variety of very delicate prepared veggies, most of them grown local or regional. Same for the fish and meat. The dining concept is a true pleasure to share with friends, family or with your love!

The amuse bouches
Lettuce, dill – macaron, sour cream, cucumber – cabbage turnip, withe fish – egg royal

Champagne Résonance Marie Courtin

The starters
Char, radish, butter milk – Beef tartar with potato chips – lettuce, parmesan and herbs – foie gras, chocolate – mackerel Sahsimi on a table BBQ, celery – IGNIV salad –
The surprise starter: the chicken Nuggets with BBQ choco sauce

Wine: Sauvignon Blanc Opoka 2014 – Marjan Simcic

The mains
Zander filet – Beef êntrecote from Grison, celery, onions – Veal cheeks, gremolata, young carrots, bramata – Cauliflower, Grüscher Trüffel

Wine: 2017 Chardonnay Martha und Daniel Gantenbein (Fläsch) – 2010 Pinot noir “H”, Christian Hermann (Fläsch)

The Desserts
Egg royal with strawberry & basil – Cocos ice cream, Verveine – Millefeuille with cherry & pistachio, chocolate & sea ​​buckthorn – Quark Soufflé – almond apricots sphere

The costs of the menu per person: CHF 148 for the 3 course, additional you can choose 3 surprise sharing components for additional CHF 40 or 5 surprise sharing components for additional CHF 60.

My personal highlights

The dinner at IGNIV was without doubt my absolutely memorable highlight. Each course was prepared with care and love. On the one hand, this is visible by admiring the presentation of the plates, including the artistic crockery and even more as a taste experience on the palate.
The way the all the staff welcomed me at the Grand Resort from the check in to check out is warm and attentive. Thank you Grand Resort Bad Ragaz especially Mrs. Astrid Hüni for having me.

In the mood of other accommodation suggestions? Visit my travel guide!

www.resortragaz.ch

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Seascape Luxury Residences Crete – Agia Pelagia

My personal highlight: Get the comfort & relax you need at the residences, enjoy the freedom to be super close by the sea & restaurants

Seascape Luxury Residences Crete

Opting for privacy and tranquility in an affordable boutique style accommodation Seascape Luxury Residences is the best choice. It is located in Aigia Pelagia. This seaside fishing village built in the centre of a picturesque amphitheatric bay offers crystal waters and a great choice of restaurantcafés, boutiques & shops. Agia Pelagia lies right in the middle of Crete. This makes it easy to use it as a base for tours and excursions. From here you can reach some beaches in walking distance. Read more in my blogpost about what to do and where to go around Agia Pelagia. The airport of Heraklion is only about 20 min. drive by car.

Accommodation

Find 31 apartments with modern equipment, TV, super comfy beds and bright rooms in various categories (Superior double room, Deluxe Apartment Sea or Pool view). Some apartment offer a private garden terrace, too. All apartments are different and are perfect for couples or families.
Get your morning swim or relax time at one of their two pools. The residence is located 5 minutes from the beach and the village of Agia Pelagia, therefore perfect to explore the place without car.

Price start as of ca. 110 Euro/night for an apartment. Get your offer and details about all sizes of the apartments here.

Breakfast at the bar

The residence has a pool bar where delicious breakfast is served. Absolutely recommend to try the Cretan breakfast. I could not find a more traditional one than at Seascape all around Agia Pelagia. The breakfast is served at the pool bar and this spot is excellent to get in contact with other guests for a chat if you like.

A big than you to Dimitris and all of the staff for having me and taking care of all of my wishes. I felt very much at home!

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Traveling Crete Island – Heraklion & surrounding – experiencing hidden food pearls with locals

My personal highlight: living the Cretan wisdom. The last two things you take with you when you die is what you see and what you eat.

My food tour guide Eva from Urban tours/intrepid travels could not describe better, the motto of my life.

This 5 day trip to crete aims to inspire and experience the island with all of its flavors, colors and cultural history. A program that suits to travel or food lovers aiming an appetizer Crete offers. Get to understand better the mentality and way of life Cretan nurture! Crete’s culture and food is strongly influenced by Roman, the Byzantines EmpireArabs, the Venetian Republic, and the Ottoman Empire. This explains a lot, how diverse the place is compared to other greek islands.
A warm thank you goes to my two local guides and new friends Phil Buttler and his wife Mihalea that introduced me to this mediterranean pearl! Check Phil’s blog Argophilia for more travel insights about Crete!

Crete is the  largest island of Greece and lies to the south of the mainland. You can reach it either from the International Airport Chania, located in the south or the International Airport Hiraklio (the one I recommend) in the north. Absolutely recommended to rent a car for traveling around the island.

The island offers some of the most stunning landscapes and famous historical sites: Mark this one in your historical site bucket list: Knossos!
Knossos flourished for approximately two thousand years. It’s the must see archaeological site located 5 km southeast of the city of Heraklion. Here back in time the dynasty of Minos ruled (roughly 2700–1420 BC). Curious to experience the magic of the Minoan lifestyle? Visit a show at the Minoan Theater at Karteros. Read more about the show here.

Cretan hospitality teaches best, how to be truly wealthy. The life motto: siga siga (slowly slowly) makes me smile every time I hear it.

Beaches to reach by feet or car around North Crete

If you are after beaches, Crete has hundreds of beaches to suit every taste.
Lygaria BayMononaftis bayKladissos bayMade beachPsaromoura beachFylakes beachAmmoudi to name the most important ones. Though there are several (little and almost hidden) beaches in the area.

To mark on your beach bucket list: Aigia Pelagia.
Surrounded by mountains and hills, Agia Pelagia lies right in the middle of Crete. This makes it easy to use it as a base for tours and excursions. This seaside fishing village built in the centre of a picturesque amphitheatric bay offers crystal waters and a great choice of restaurant, Cafés and shops. (More on that in my food suggestions below). From here you can reach some beaches in walking distance.

Where to sleep in Agia Pelagia

Opting for privacy, tranquility in an affordable boutique style environment? Seascape Luxury Residences is your choice. Add it now on your accommodation bucket list!
Find 31 apartments with modern equipment, TV, super comfy beds and bright rooms in various categories (Superior double room, Deluxe Apartment Sea or Pool view). Some apartment offer a private garden terrace, too. All apartments are different and are perfect for couples or families.
Get your morning swim or relax time at one of their two pools. The residence is located 5 minutes from the beach and the village of Agia Pelagia, therefore perfect to explore the place without car. Make your booking here.

Breakfast at Seascape – Try the Cretan breakfast

My absolute favorite choice: The Cretan breakfast. It comes with local products and reflects best, what food is about in Crete! Rich and healthy flavors as tahini, honey and home made orange or quince jam to spread on the bread. Greek yoghurt and biscuits made of carob flour.
Sit at the large table in front of the pool and have a chat with other guests. This makes the difference at Seascape compared to an anonymus hotel atmosphere! 

Ever heard about the Cretan Diet?

Did you know, that Crete is world famous for its Diet? I am a food explorer and not really following a diet. Traveling through this region however, made me best understand, what it means to be surrounded by premium products. It’s an art to know, how to prepare these exceptional quality products. A large variation of citrus fruits, tomatoes, mainly goat and sheep cheeses, olive oil, snails, fish, wholemeal bread make this cuisine exceptional. (You’ll very rarely find cows in Crete or even Greece for that matter, they can’t handle the rocky terrain). By the way, it is recorded that over 500 types of greens and herbs are used raw in salads or cooked in small and large pies in various ways. Talking to different Taverna owners made me understand, that the preparation of food is made with passion and care about every single ingredient.

One of the basic difference between the cretan diet and diets of other mediterranean areas is the huge consumption of fruits.

The best way to get in contact with Cretan food is to experience a guided tour. For your Food tour Bucket list:
Book a 4 hour tour with urban tours and stroll through the city of Heraklion. You get introduced to some historical sites, churches and spots where the locals meet. A particular point of interest you may come across when walking the walls, is the tombstone of Nikos Kazantzakis. He was perhaps the most influential writer in Crete and even Greece.

What your food tour includes:

  • Taste home made biscuits in one of the oldest bakeries in town
  • Get a typical Cretan coffee (which seemed very turkish to me). 
  • Hit the backstreets and hidden pathways saying “yassas” (“Hi” in greek) to the local fish market man.
  • Try the local meze and get your olive oil tasting in a local food shop. Absolutely recommended: Visit the food store Vourgiali. It’s the ultimate address to get in contact with Cretan products. The family owned business has all you can dream of! The selection of dakos ,a typical cretan bread used for aperitife, light lunch or dinner is impressive! On the dakos come chopped tomatoes, feta crumbles and some extra virgin olive oil. Find best local wines, honey and cheeses.
  • A local sweet you can’t miss on your tour: bougatsa! Get a delicious one at the bistro Kirkor (Platia Eleftheriou Venizelou 31-32). Order a portion half cream and one half cheese and find out which you love more! My heart went boom for the cream version!

Bougatsa is a traditional Greek dessert made with the creamy custard or goat cheese wrapped in golden brown crispy phyllo, sprinkled with melted butter and garnished with icing sugar and cinnamon.

Dinner in Heraklion with a majestic view overlooking the harbor and fortress Koules (Venetian Castle)?

Restaurant Trata (Eikostis Pemptis Avgoustou 10, Heraklion) is a secret hint. It offers a superb view overlooking the harbor and delicious local food at a valuable price. Order local meze as fried graviera cheese called saganaki, eggplant salad or a grilled octopus. Try snails here! They are fired in olive oil with plenty of rosemary. A pure delight! Cretan snails have a special taste, since they live attached at olive trees!

Graviera cheese is slightly sweet and nutty in the taste. The Cretan version is made with sheep’s milk or sheep’s milk with a small amount of goat’s milk. It’s delicious eaten with thyme honey!

Restaurants & Bistro in Agia Pelagia

  • Tavern O Nikolas
    (Address: Agia Pelagia 715 00, Phone +30 281 081 2090)
    Local food, very authentic style where locals go, fresh fish/catch of the day, very good price. The staff is friendly.
  • Almyra bar & food
    A perfect spot to have an aperitivo, cocktail or dinner overlooking the sea. Chic & surely a trendy spot. The dishes are prepared with fresh and seasonal ingredients. The card is mixed with traditional cretan and international cuisine.
  • Restaurant Alati
    An authentic restaurant at the beach to try different local meze and sea food. I had the Crème trilogy with the classical split peas with onion, tzatziki with cucumber and smoked eggplant salad. As a main a fried octopus that was crunchy and super fresh.
  • Café & Restaurant The home
    The kind of place that makes you feel in a good vibes only environment. I love the positive quote and fancy decor everywhere. Very nice for a lunch to try some local dishes as eggplant salad and a homemade juice.

Make a trip to the traditional local village Fodele, talk to locals and eat a Taverna

Fodele is about 20 Km from Heraklion and absolutely worth visiting. Watch the old ladies doing needle works. We got invited to try delicious home made pickled bitter oranges and raki. Although the spot is touristic it has a relaxed atmosphere. Stop at the shops to buy some local cotton ware.

The village is the birthplace of the most famous Greek painter, El Greco. He has his own monument in the village next to a tree that is over a thousand years old! Make a visit at El Greco’s house where he was born. Today it has been transformed to a small museum.
On the way to the museum stop by at the Souvenir Shop of Maria! She is a lovely soul and has very cute little gifts (food & other things) to buy for your friends!

Your perfect local dinner in Fodele – Taverna Giasemí

Talk to Eleni the owner and let her advise you on the menu! Get some tasty dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), lamb chops (they are super tender) and different meat dishes as slow cooked pork or a creamy liver prepared with special herbs. The desserts are seasonal and made from Eleni every day. I had a delicious Orange cream tarte and a super soft and humid chocolate cake. Fruits will never miss after a meal and are a gift from the house in every restaurant.

Slow cooked lamb at Fodele Beach on a cozy Sunday?

The food experience at Taverna Opou Vastaxi is one of the most authentic on my whole Crete trip. Early in the morning the owner Stella and his husband prepare the fire where the pork and lamb slow cooks on the grill for at least 3 hours. Stella explains, that all animals are from local farms. The BBQ menu is available only on Sunday. Get some delicious sides as typical greek salad or dolmades. I appreciated the simplicity and authenticity and the very familiar ambience.

The beach of Fodele is close by. For families with kids: Stop at the water park at 2 Km distance and have some fun crazy slides!

Driving back from Heraklion to Agia Pelagia – Stop at Taverna Mitato to try Cretan bulbs!

I get more and more familiar, that on Crete the food is rustic and rich! It combines seasonal ingredients and balanced flavors. They reflect the bounty of Crete’s sun-blessed fertile land. At Anna’s Taverna you can find authentic local dishes as floral bulbs and a variety of stuffed vegetables. The menu offers a variety of grilled or stewed meat and fish, too.

They usually come fresh as a salad, dressed with oil and vinegar or lemon, pickled, or stewed with olive oil, vinegar and flour.

If you like to have a chat in German with Anna, she will be happy. She used to live in Germany. The interior of the restaurants is super vintage and reminds me of the living room of my aunt back in the 80s. 

“There us a kind of flame in Crete – let us call it “soul” – something more powerful than either life or death. There is pride, obstinacy, valor, and together with these something else inexpressible and imponderable, something which makes you rejoice that you are a human being, and at the same time tremble. (Report to Greco)” 
― N. Kazantzakis

See you soon Crete! Efcharistò to Seascape Manager Dimitris & his staff for having me. EyeWide Eservices – Minas & his staff for organizing the press trip. Mihaela & Phil Buttler for the memorable and fun time together.

In the mood of other travel stories? Check my travel guide here!

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Accomodation

Al Battistero d’oro – A very authentic and charming B&B located in the middle of the historical City of Parma

My personal highlight: A home full of history and positive energy decorated with attention and charm from Host Patrizia

Al Battistero D’oro is practically located in the old town of Parma. Only about 15 minutes by walk from the train station. The area is very quite and ideal to have a relaxing sleep.

Patrizia is the host and a charismatic and very hearty person taking care of every wish you have. The B&B is her private home and decorated with class and style reflecting the charisma and warm personality she has.

I enjoyed a delicious breakfast Patrizia prepared with fresh fruits, yoghurt, croissants and some Parmigiano cheese & aceto balsamico topping.

Accommodation

The B&B has 2 double rooms and 1 apartment. I slept in the room: LA STANZA DUCHESSA. The room offer Air conditioning, cable TV, WiFi, safe, mini fridge stocked daily with water, bathroom courtesy services, hairdryer, kettle with selection of herbal teas, tea and coffee.

REINA, LA SUITE is the the suite overlooking the old courtyard of the house allowing direct access to the dining and living room. If you are looking for a more large space opt for the “APPARTAMENTO CATTEDRALE.
The apartment in a seventeenth-century building just a few steps from the Cathedral of Parma. Consisting of a double bedroom, a living area, an equipped kitchen, a wardrobe in the dining room and a bathroom with a large shower. The most striking features are the tall windows and its beautiful vaulted ceiling.

Price vary from ca. 120 Euro/night for the double rooms and the flat. Get your offer directly here.

In the mood to discover more accommodations in the Lovefoodish guide ? Zurich, Hamburg or Munich ? Get them here.

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STORIES

Culinary trip to Parma – Where to go and what to experience in 3 days

My personal highlight: Discovering an enchanting pearl full of culture & extraordinary delicacies only a few hours by train from Zurich!

How much do you know about this Italian Culture & Gastronomy City located 5h by train from Zurich?

Parma has been shaped along the centuries by great painters as Correggio & Antelami. In the national gallery of Pilotta you can find some works by Da Vinci, Barbieri, Allegri, van Dyck, and many others from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. The unique piece from Leonardo da Vinci called ‘La Scapigliata’ from 1508 all made in oil on a wood panel captured my heart immediately.
For Opera lovers it’s absolutely recommended to visit Teatro Regio. It’s one of the most renowned and high-quality opera houses in Italy. It has been associated with many great composers, such as Giuseppe Verdi and Gioachino Rossini. This venue continues to serve the great Italian musical tradition, staging four operas every season and hosting a yearly Verdi Festival in October!
Another landmark of Parma is their Teatro Farnese. The theatre is one of the most renowned example of a wooden theatre that stands today. Created in the 1600’s, at the time it was also the largest theatre in the world and could hold a crowd of 3’000 people. It’s absolutely recommended to go there fro a throwback in time!

During the Middle Ages, Parma was ruled by the Franks and was part of the Holy Roman Empire. During the 1800’s, the city was annexed by France under the rule of Napoleon, and then finally became a part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1860.

Guess why Parma has been nominated a City of Gastronomy?

On December 11th, 2015 Parma was officially invited to take part in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, becoming the first Italian Creative City of Gastronomy (The network includes more than 70 cities in 32 countries). Parma is a true Foodvalley, A. because of their king of Cheese called Parmigiano Reggiano that has its origins here and B. because of the world famous Parma ham. More than that, Parma is home to the top school of Italian cooking called Alma!

Foodie hint: You recognize the original Parma by it’s 5 pointed crown branded onto it’s skin.

Emilia-Romagna is the European region with the highest number of PDO and PGI products, and it is described by Forbes “Italy’s greatest gastronomic treasure.

Ever heard about the delicacy Culatello di Zibello?

It is the precious piece made from the large muscle mass in the rear leg of the pig. Creating it means destroying the possibility of making a prosciutto!
Its tremendous aging time, the fact that it’s the best part of the leg, and the expertise required to make it one of the most expensive salumi in Italy, particularly if it adheres to the DOP regulations to be a Zibello culatello.
The best way to experience the history & an exclusive tasting of the Culatello is to visit the Culatello Museum. The Museum is located in the court where the historical & gastronomic hideaway Antica Corte Pallavicina Relais has its domicile. The old fortified castle built by the Pallavicino family in 1320, is a place where love for good food and local products has always been a distinctive mark.
I suggest booking a night at their fantastic hotel for ca. 220 Euro/night.

Enjoy a typical dinner at their 1 Michelin Star Restaurant and go for a walk around the castle admiring the Po river and an impressive nature.

The ambience at the restaurant is special. The glass front gives a super special light and atmosphere and embraces the natural beauty of the Po river. The restaurant received the Michelin Guide Star since 2011 and represents the best of the refined Bassa Parmense. Chef Massimo and Luciano Spigaroli use most of the raw materials produced directly in the ancient court of Pallavicina according to traditions of the surrounded lands.

My personal highlight was the walk in their cellar looking at hundreds of Culatello di Zibello beautifully hanging down the ceiling. At the restaurant I enjoyed the podium of Culatello from the “White Pig” aged over 18, 27  and over 37 months. The truffled Guinea Fowl cooked with Culatello in the Po river’s clay served with vegetables from the garden was of an outstanding tender and aromatic taste!

Book a tasty bus tour to experience the traditional production of Parmigiano Reggiano DOP and Parma ham or get a customized tour!

The best way to dive into the heritage of Parma’s artisan food is to book a tasty tour. Our press trip organized by Comune di Parma and OMNIA Relations took place with the company Maestro Travel Experience. The tour takes 4 hours and brings you by bus to all production sites. The Cheese factory we visited is a small family business consisting of exactly 3 employees! It’s a unique experience to see with how much care and ability the 50 kilo heavy loafs of Parmigiano are processed all by hand! Learn how this cheese, devoid of any chemical additive, can be aged for years to improve its quality. You will recognize the various aging stages thanks to the tasting led by an expert.
On our second stop we visited a parma ham producer. The family-run factory presented all the steps from the meat processing to the flavors of the curing rooms. I am very happy to have learnt all facts to recognize an original Parma ham. Every tour is of course accompanied by a delicious tasting! The tours are the best stops to buy your souvenir for home. A big thank you to Elisa that explained to us so many details and included plenty of tasting occasion on the trip!

Another must do on your program: Visit ALMA the International School of Italian Cuisine where best Italian Chefs graduate from and book one of their Masterclasses!

Welcome to the world’s leading international training centre for Italian Cuisine, founded by the Italian Master Chef Gualtiero Marchesi. Walking around in the beautiful Palazzo Ducale of Colorno makes you feel in heaven. Surrounded by an intense variety of smells that constantly stimulate my senses I feel that here is where the magic happens! We had the chance to visit a class in the first year of education learning cutting techniques, an other class was creating beautiful chocolate sculptures made all by hand!

ALMA covers an area of 5’000 square metres. The classrooms are fully equipped for training professionals.

ALMA educates chefs and pastry chefs, bakery chefs, assistants for restaurant, bar managers and food & beverage managers coming from all around the world. Annually 1100 students graduate at ALMA. This is probably the best investment ever for a future as well as an extraordinary training experience.

Their events and some of the classes are open to everyone. I absolutely recommend to book one and experience this unique surrounding live! Get more about the available events here.

How to get to Parma

From Zurich it’s easy to take the train to Milan. SBB offers a good time table with attractive prices. From Milan you can choose the Frecciabianca Train that takes you to Parma in only 1 hour. For the future new direct connections to Bologna are planned. I like to express a big thank you to SBB & Trenitalia for the excellent and smooth ride to Parma.

Where to sleep in Parma

I spent a night at a very authentic and charming B&B located in the middle of the city close to the “duomo” called Al Battistero D’oro. Patrizia is the host and a charismatic and very hearty person taking care of every wish you have. The B&B is her private home and decorated carefully with class and style reflecting the charisma and warm personality she has. The place is peaceful and quit and located in the historical city centre.
Get in contact to ask your quote. Price vary from ca. 100 Euro/night. Find more accommodation suggestions here.

Events to mark in your agenda this September:
Settembre Gastronomico Traiettorie
Cena dei Mille
Giardini Gourmet

A special thank you goes to the city of Parma and our press trip organisator OMNIA Relations/Ilaria Tortora as well as all involved person that made our trip the perfect gastronomic holiday.

In the mood of other travel stories and food trips ? What about a wine tour in Piedmont? Find all you need to organize it here in my Piedmont blog story.

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AccomodationEuropeGUIDESTravel

B2 Boutique Hotel & SPA Zurich

My personal highlight: Feeling home in the midst of 33,000 books. In a sea of ​​poetry and history I fantasize about what happened in the beer brewery Hürlimann back in the year 1836. 

Do you know the feeling of forgetting every thought around you while time looses its value? This is what happened to me during my stay at B2 Boutique Hotel in Zurich. The hotel is built in the former Hürlimann brewery and full of history and architectural highlights. The Wine Library at B2 Boutique Hotel is memorable. On the ceiling you find lamps constructed from old original beer bottles. All books that fill the hotel library – 33000 of them – come from the inventory of a former antiquarian bookshop in Zurich. This boutique hotel is ideal if you are traveling to Zurich for a business trip or a SPA weekend. It is connected with a thermal bath and a marvellous temple of relax.
The thermal bath offers 3500 sqm of pure joy for body & soul. Take a bath in the rooftop infinity pool overlooking the city of Zurich. The fresh thermal water bubbles directly from Zurich’s “Aqui” spring and offers guests relaxation with valuable minerals in 35 to 41 degree warm water. A delight especially in cold winter days.  Find all of their packages here.

B2 Boutique hotel in a glimpse

  • 51 rooms and suites between 28 sqm – 55 sqm, book a room here
  • Meeting rooms for up to 18 people as well as a large room for events called Machine hall / 370sqm. A historic, landmarked event location for up to 100 persons as an extraordinary backdrop for special events, such as expositions, film or photo shootings, openings and presentations
  • Wine Library and restaurant with selected Swiss Wines from Caduff’s Wine loft.
  • Personalized Guest Ambassador service
  • Direct access to the Spa & thermal bath with 3500 sqm of Roman Bath and an infinity pool on the rooftop

Accommodation

The hotel offers 51 modern rooms in different categories. Each room is characterized by the industrial history of the house, yet so authentic that you feel thrown back in time. The rooms are specious and offer a warm interior. The parquet invites to walk around barefoot. Selected designer armchairs with classics ranging from Artifort to de Sede to Willudsen and Dixon lamps create a sense of urban living in an avant-garde atmosphere. The cherry on the top is the Hürlimann beer that waits for you in the mini-bar.

Food & Drinks

Small dishes even at exceptional times. The food choice is small but special and ideal for lunch or dinner. Get some vegetarian or meat ravioli, a burger with Swiss Cheese or just an apéro plate to accompany with a glass of delicious Swiss wine. Discover exclusive Swiss wines at the Wine Library designed by the famous restaurant in town called Caduff’s Wine Loft. It includes wines from well-known Swiss wine makers as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot gris, Pinot noir or Cabernet.

The breakfast is regional from the Zurich Oberland and offers a buffet with fresh bread, fruits and vegetables as well as homemade Bircher muesli and fresh juices.

In the mood to discover more accommodations in the Lovefoodish guide ? Zurich, Hamburg or Munich for example? Get more here.

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