FOOD ZURICH Kicks Off with Opening Night Party

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Have you heard the news? Zürich has a massive new food festival. With over 100 events running from September 8 to 18, FOOD ZURICH kicked off yesterday with an Opening Night party at the Jelmoli FOOD MARKET. In the basement of the Jelmoli department store, you could sample foods from the various food vendors typically stationed at this market, or you could also take advantage of culinary specialties prepared by chefs from restaurants at some of Zürich’s finest hotels.

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FOOD ZURICH developed lots of new food events, such as cooking workshops, special meals and culinary exhibits. However, it also pulled some existing festivals into its line-up, such as the Craft Beer Festival, Street Food Festival and The Epicure. The organizing committee for FOOD ZURICH includes Zürich Tourism and others from the hospitality industry.

For this year’s edition, the Basque region was selected as a guest and partner of FOOD ZURICH, and cuisine from this geographic area will be highlighted during the festival. One event in particular, the Pintxos Tram, which will be offered multiple times, allows participants to take a tram ride through Zürich while feasting on Spanish tapas (CHF 95).

I gladly accepted an invitation to FOOD ZURICH’s Opening Night (CHF 95) — an event whose tickets had sold out. My evening started out with a glass of champagne and the opportunity to wander through the Jelmoli FOOD MARKET, which has an impressive selection of Swiss foods, and especially those from the Zürich area. For example, I sampled some of Suter’s Züri Tirggel, a thin, sweet and very crispy biscuit this company has produced in Switzerland since 1840. I also visited the cheese humidor, a small refrigerated cheese market for purchasing local Swiss cheeses to enjoy at home. The next time I’m in Zürich, I look forward to returning to this foodie basement paradise to do some shopping.

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Scenes from the permanent vendors at Zürich’s Jelmoli FOOD MARKET

After exploring through the marketplace, I visited the tables of the restaurants from five Zürich hotels: Baur au Lac, Park Hyatt Zürich, Storchen Zürich, Dolder Grand and Widder Hotel. Their stations were spread throughout the market, and there was a hive of activity by each table, as the teams of chefs worked together to create their special dishes.

While I didn’t try everything, my favorites of the evening came from the Dolder Grand, whose dishes seemed like very elegant comfort food — things like stewed beef, spinach dumplings (Spinat Knödel) and polenta flavored with coarse-grained mustard.

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Chefs from Zürich’s Dolder Grand hard at work

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A Basque-inspired dish: Marine cheese with crispy onions, waiting for the dashi broth

Along with the buffet of small plates, drinks were included with the cost of your ticket. Mövenpick Wein, which has a shop at the Jelmoli FOOD MARKET, supplied the wine. I sampled two Swiss wines, both from Staatskellerei Zürich: a 2015 Compleo Pinot Gris and a 2013 Éo Noir. The Pinot Gris was too sweet for my palate, but I really enjoyed the red wine — a mix of Gamaret (75%) and Merlot (25%). Cocktails were also being poured that evening, but I opted for a Hell beer from Chopfab instead — a smooth Swiss blonde beer that I would definitely have again.

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Sampling Chopfab’s Hell, a smooth blonde beer from a Swiss brewer

Finally, I took on the dessert aisle and sampled a few macarons from Fauchon and two mini-cakes — carrot and chocolate — from the Buchmann bakery — two businesses with permanent shops at the Jelmoli FOOD MARKET.

With a DJ, musical performances and speeches, the Opening Night festivities for FOOD ZURICH had a fun atmosphere with fantastic food and drink to launch this major new culinary festival.

The dozens of events scheduled during the next 10 days include free events and activities that require you to purchase tickets or make reservations. The topics of these events vary tremendously, from learning how to cook and bake with blood (animal!) to going on an urban truffle hunt and to seeing a chocolate sculpture exhibition. And, if you’re looking to learn about Swiss food, you could take in a traditional meal from Swiss Tavolata, learn how to make Swiss biber with Leibacher or taste different kinds of fondue at Restaurant Swiss Chuchi.

I wish the organizers of this year’s FOOD ZURICH the best of luck with their ambitious and exciting program of events. Thanks for a wonderful evening in Zürich! My husband will be at the Craft Beer Festival on Sunday, and I’m looking forward to hearing more about this and other upcoming events.

FOOD ZURICH runs from September 8-18, 2016. For more information, you can visit their website — available in German and English.

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