Classic Autumnal Dishes to Try in Switzerland
Chestnuts are a Swiss staple at this time of year and can be enjoyed in many different forms. Over the coming weeks, streets will be dotted with stands selling heissi Marroni (roasted chestnuts), a warming treat to offset the winter chill. Chestnuts also appear in bread, pasta, jams, beer, and in the form of Vermicelles, a piped chestnut purée resembling spaghetti which is often served with whipped cream or as part of a tart or cake.
Those looking for a heartier meal can try chestnuts drizzled with caramel sauce paired with other autumnal favourites such as venison, red cabbage, and spätzle. Pre-prepared versions can be bought in the supermarket and simply need warming up, or you can turn your meal preparation into a day out and forage your own. Just be careful to distinguish between edible chestnuts and toxic horse chestnuts (more information on this here)…
One of the best places to find chestnuts is Ticino in southern Switzerland. To see the humble nut celebrated in all its glory, visit the Chestnut Festival in Ascona, where you can try a huge array of chestnut products and food and wine specialities from the region.
If you’ve been hiking in the mountains around Lucerne this summer, you will almost certainly have seen cattle grazing in the high-up pastures. Cheese which is produced here during this time is called Alpkäse, not to be confused with Bergkäse, which is made all year round. The Alpine grasses and herbs on which the cattle feed are said to giveAlpkäse its distinctive flavour, while regional variations in recipes mean that cheeses from different Alpine areas have their own unique taste.
A great time to try Alpkäse is at an Alpabzug – the animals’ much-celebrated return to the valleys at the beginning of autumn. Processions of cattle returning to the lower ground are often accompanied by market stalls selling a wide range of Alpine specialities, including Alpkäse.
Apples are one of the main food products grown in Switzerland, accounting for 213,000 of the 283,000 tonnes of fruit harvested in 2015. Now is the time to enjoy them as they are, in fresh-pressed juices, or in the form of Suure Moscht. A cider-like drink, Suure Moscht can be found in supermarkets and restaurants, and is available in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic forms. An excellent refreshment to order in one of Switzerland’s mountain restaurants after a bracing autumn hike.
Autumn marks the start of the Wildzeit, or game season. If you’re unsure how to prepare game at home, you can buy ready-made dishes in the supermarket. However, if you fancy a night off from cooking altogether, visit one of the many Swiss restaurants offering a Wild Menü, from which you can order seasonal specialties such as venison, rabbit, and wild boar. Or, for an even greater sense of luxury, how about an evening aboard a Wild-Schiff on the Vierwaldstättersee? Over the coming weeks, guests can try classic Swiss autumn meals, learn about the season, and enjoy stunning views from the water.