Good Things come in Twos

Two gastronomic meals in a week – how good is that? That is thanks to Nespresso Gourmet Weeks 2015. First, let me fill you in with a little background. Nespresso invited the fast-rising chefs of 15 top-level gourmet restaurants in Switzerland to showcase their talents, but with a twist. In Nespresso’s own words, dishes are to be “not only inspired, but also created with our finest (coffee) Grand Crus”. Over a three week period, the special lunch and dinner menus are available at a set price. This campaign not only reinforces Nespresso’s luxury image but also aims to introduce gastronomy to a larger public. 
My first meal was for a Saturday lunch with my family at Le Pont de Brent. There my taste buds were delighted by the chef Stéphane Décotterd over a 3-course menu. I won’t have the right language to comment on the dishes but anyone could tell how the flavors are so subtle and complex (not to mention the attention given to its presentation). They did not have the singular in-your-face tastes of simpler dishes of our “regular” meals. I suppose that’s also why we let pieces of a haute-cuisine dish linger in our mouths, the better to discover and savor its tastes with eyes closed! 
The second meal was as a guest of Nespresso at Stucki Restaurant in Basel. Why here? There were only two women out of the 16 chefs featured by Nespresso and I just could not resist the “call” of Tanja Grandits. Besides, I love Basel for a full getaway experience.
We arrived early in the morning to first check into the “Basel Garden Guesthouse”, home for our overnight stay. Only a two minutes stroll from the restaurant, the guesthouse was welcoming, charming, and relaxing. The same can be said of our amazing host Madeleine. Our early arrival actually took her by surprise as she just got back from London and hadn’t expected us to come this early. Nevertheless, her welcome couldn’t have been any warmer. The house was splendid and I was enchanted by its interiors in white or with soft colors. The furniture and decoration of photographs and paintings exuded good taste. It was a real haven of peace. I will willingly come back for another stay, and highly recommend the guesthouse to any visitor to the city.

Later we were also warmly welcome at the Stucki Restaurant. Again, I will not attempt to describe the many dishes and teasers but invite you instead to look at the pictures. By haute-cuisine standards, the portions were indeed copious. I started with veal sweetbreads painted in pepper green, spinach salad, olive jam and nutmeg leek soup, Poulet Sot-l’y-laisse with shallots granola. Then chose the seabass with turmeric fennel and yellow peas polenta as my main. I finished on a sweet note with peanut quark mousse, coffee tandoori glacé and mandarine confit. The ingredients were truly the finest, and the combinations of flavors of the dishes were original and exquisite! I had the chance to meet Tanja for a little chat. From one woman to another, I was immediately curious to know how she felt as a woman in a man’s world. She seemed totally oblivious to the idea and said she never felt discriminated or had to work differently, adding “I genuinely try to be nice to everyone, so people are also nice to me”. We could never talk for long as her talents were constantly required back in the kitchen. I would have loved to hear more about why and how she took up haute cuisine. That will have to wait for another time.

There is nothing more natural to do after our filling lunch (besides taking a nap I suppose) than to take an aimless walk. I also took the chance of being in Basel to shoot my outfit (coming soon). Thank you Nespresso for a wonderful experience – looking forward to Nespresso Gourmet Weeks 2016…?