Rustic food in Klosters and traditional dishes from Graubünden

January 10, 2010 § 2 Comments

I’m going to start this post on our recent trip to Klosters with a mention of Charly’s Chestnuts.  No, this isn’t an irreverent dig at the British royal family who like to holiday here but a reference to a Klosters landmark.  The eponymous Charly sets up his wagon daily just outside the station and his roast chestnuts are very good indeed.

I’ve already written about some of Klosters’ hotel restaurants and the elegant food they serve up.  What I haven’t mentioned so far are some of the mountain restaurants catering for skiers.  Yes, there are the busy cafeteria style establishments by the main lifts at Gotschna, Davos and Madrisa, but if you want something a bit special, you have to travel a little further afield.

Bruhin’s restaurant is virtually on the summit of  the Weissfluhgipfel which at 2883m is the highest point on the Parsenn massif.  The views across to the Silvretta and Rätikon are stunning and window tables here are in great demand.  The menu offers either restaurant style dishes or local specialities.  I haven’t eaten here recently, but they do a good cup of coffee – you can warm up on the sheepskin upholstered seats before taking the long run down to Schifer.

If you are skiing in the Madrisa ski area, then Berghaus Erika in the hamlet of Schlappin makes a worthwhile destination.  Its plus point or drawback, depending on your point of view, is that is situated at the foot of a long tree-lined black run.

We tried the local Prättigau speciality Chäsgetschäder here, a cheesy bread bake, perfect after a hard morning’s skiing.  I’ve searched out  a recipe for this dish which I give below.  The version in the recipe sounds more soupy and creamy than the dish we ate at Berghaus Erika – their version appears to have been baked in the oven or cooked on the stove top to produce a golden crust:

At the foot of another black run is the Hotel Kulm in Wolfgang, the hamlet on the main road between Klosters and Davos.  This is another atmospheric place to eat, with lots of local specialities on the menu.  The hotel sits between the main road and station at Wolfgang – there’s no ski lift back to the slopes, so time your meal to coincide with a Rhätischebahn train back  to either Davos or Klosters .  Here’s a view of the hotel from the station platform.

We tried Maluns, a dish of fried potatoes served with cheese and apple sauce, a typically Swiss combination. This dish looks rather basic when it arrives – essentially a plate of crispy golden crumbs, a piece of cheese and dollop of apple sauce on the side, but the combination tastes good.  I’ve managed to find a recipe too which I give below.

A day skiing in Klosters wouldn’t be complete without an après-ski drink and snack in Bistro Logo in the main street – this seems to be the town’s only café and is permanently busy as a result.  Since Graubünden went smoke-free a couple of years ago, this is now a very pleasant place to sit and chat.  My son George’s favourite order here is the apple strudel with both vanilla sauce and whipped cream:

Finally, a mention of two other regional dishes which appear frequently on menus in and around Klosters.  The first is Pizokel, a gratin of potato dumplings which makes a hearty ski lunch.  Here’s how it’s served locally andI give a recipe below.

The second is Capuns, another Graubünden speciality – little parcels of savoury stuffing wrapped in Swiss chard leaves.  Sadly, I didn’t have an opportunity to try these during our trip.  Of all the local dishes, these seem to fit in with current cooking trends – not too much cheese, butter and starch and the use of a vegetable rather than pasta or pastry to encase a savoury filling has a contemporary feel even though this is a traditional regional dish.  My trusty little Betty Bossi cookbook which I bought in Switzerland ages ago has come up trumps again – I give the recipe below and plan to give it a try as soon as I can get hold of some Swiss chard.

Recipe for Maluns – a fried potato dish, a speciality of Graubünden

This recipe comes from “Bündner Landfrauen Kochen” (the Graubünden Farmers’ Wives Cookbook), a little spiral-bound paperback book I bought in the Klosters bookshop a couple of years ago.  The contributor is a Mrs Renata Canetg from Domat/Ems, a little town in the Rhine Valley near Chur.

She doesn’t say how many people this will serve – I estimate this would make 4 generous portions.

This was originally a breakfast dish eaten with and in fact mixed with milky coffee.  You will find it more commonly served now as a hearty lunch or supper dish with a good-sized wedge of cheese and a dollop of apple sauce.  The combination of cheese, potato and apple is typically Swiss.

Ingredients

1 kg waxy potatoes boiled in their skins and left for two days
350 g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt – more to taste
125g-150g butter (depending on how your potatoes behave)

To serve

Apple sauce
Wedges of Graubünden mountain cheese

Peel the potatoes and grate them using a coarse grater.  Mix the grated potatoes with the flour and a little salt.  Divide the mixture into two and fry one portion at a time in a non-stick frying pan in hot butter.  When the mixture colours, turn the heat down a little and cook until golden, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.  The mixture will form into small balls.  Serve immediately while hot and crispy.

Recipe for Kartoffelpizokel – potato dumplings, a speciality of Prättigau

This recipe serves 4 people and comes from a little recipe book by fictional Swiss author Betty Bossi entitled “Specialités Suisses”.  The Prättigau is the region within the canton of Graubünden comprising the Landquart and Landwasser valleys in which respectively Klosters and neighbouring Davos are located.

Ingredients

700g peeled raw potatoes, floury such as Désirée
100 to 150g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper

For the gratin

200g grated Prättigau mountain cheese (substitute Gruyère if you like)
1 tablespoon butter
100g lardons (diced bacon)
2 medium onions halved and thinly sliced

Cranberry sauce to serve (the Swiss recipe suggests a compôte d’airelles which is similar to our cranberry sauce – the airelle is a sharp red mountain berry)

Grate the potatoes into a bowl using a fine grater.  Squeeze out some of the raw potato juice with your hands. Mix in 100g of the flour, salt and pepper. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. With two spoons, take a small piece of the mixture, form it into a dumpling and drop it into the boiling water.  If it doesn’t hold its shape, stir in the extra 50g of flour specified in the list of ingredients.

Form the mixture into dumplings and drop them into the water.  Stir around.  Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.  They will at first drop to the bottom of the pan then rise to the surface once they are cooked, like gnocchi.  Remove with a slotted spoon and place them into a buttered gratin dish.  Sprinkle over the grated cheese and bake in an oven preheated to 200 degrees C for 20 minutes.

While the pizokel are in the oven, melt the butter in a frying pan, add the lardons and cook until golden.  Add the sliced onions to the pan and continue cooking until the onions are golden.  Spread the mixture over the baked pizokel.

Recipe for Chäsgetschäder – a rustic cheese bake, a speciality of Prättigau

Another recipe from the Betty Bossi Swiss Specialities book – serves 4.

Ingredients

100g butter
2 onions, finely chopped
250g day old white bread, crust on, cut into cubes
750 ml milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a little grated nutmeg
600g aged Prättigau mountain cheese, grated (or a mixture of aged Appenzell,Gruyère  and Fribourg Vacherin cheeses in the ratio 250:250: 100. The recipe needs mature cheese otherwise it will lack flavour and be too stringy and indigestible)

Melt the butter in a large saucepan or enamelled casserole. Add the chopped onions and cook until golden. Add the bread cubes and fry briefly. Add the milk, bring to the boil and allow to simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Gradually add the grated cheese, stirring constantly, until the mixture become creamy.  Serve immediately.

Recipe for Capuns – stuffed swiss chard leaves, a speciality of Graubünden

Ingredients

For the stuffing

150g flour
pinch salt
3 tablespoons milk
2 eggs
1 dessertspoon butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 dessertspoon snipped chives
50g chopped air dried beef from Graubünden
100g cooked salami type sausage cut into small dice

For the wrappers

16 young tender Swiss chard leaves

To finish the dish

100 ml double cream
200 ml meat stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a little butter for frying the ham strips
50 g raw cured ham cut into strips

Work the flour, salt, milk and eggs into a thick paste.  Put it aside and leave it to rest for 30 minutes.  Melt the butter in a saucepan, sauté the onions until translucent.  Add the chopped herbs, give the mixture a quick stir, then turn off the heat.  When the mixture is cool, mix it with the paste. Add the chopped dried beef and sausage.

Now prepare the leaves.  Blanch them briefly in abundant boiling salted water then plunge them immediately into iced water.  Dry them on absorbent kitchen paper.

Place a teaspoon or so of filling onto each leaf then roll up.

Now cook the formed capuns.  Pour the cream and stock into a large saucepan, season and bring to simmering point. Add the capuns to the pan, cover and allow to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Heat a little butter in a small frying pan and quickly fry the ham strips until crispy.  Divide the capuns between 4 plates, spoon over a little cooking liquid and garnish with the fried ham strips.

Restaurant contact details

Bruhin’s Weissfluhgipfel
7260 Davos Dorf
Tel. +41 (0)81 417 66 44
Fax +41 (0)81 417 66 40
www.gourmetdavos.ch

Berghaus Erika – Schlappin
Tel +41 (0)81 422 11 17

Hotel Restaurant Kulm
7265 Davos-Wolfgang
Tel. +41 (0) 81 417 07 07
Fax +41 (0) 81 417 07 99

Bistro Logo
Bahnhofstrasse
7250 Klosters
Tel. +41 (0)81 422 19 96

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§ 2 Responses to Rustic food in Klosters and traditional dishes from Graubünden

  • Sabine Fairhall says:

    I go to Switzerland regularly to visit family as my mother was Swiss. I have had wine on many occasions, but never took any notice of what it was, apart from Fendant. My family comes from Winterthur but I know other parts of Switzerland including Grisons, valais, Toggenburg, Zug.

    I had no idea you can Swiss wines in this country. I note that you ordered from Nick Dobson. Was it alright and what would you recommend?

    I know many of the dishes you mention and had Capuns for the first time this summer in Cedrun. I must say I found them to be very stodgy.

    I am familiar with Betty bossi, having her Christmas cookies book. I still make them every year, but use my grandmother’s recipies.

    All the best et Vive la Suisse!

    • Hello Sabine thanks for getting in touch. Yes I can recommend Nick Dobson Wines and am a regular buyer from him myself. I have been in Switzerland very recently both in Vaud and Valais and also in Luzern. I am a bit of a Swissophile as you may have noticed. Disappointing to hear that the capuns you tried were a bit stodgy.

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