Leaving the train station at the Zürich airport, I boarded a local bus for the short ride to Rankstrasse in the village of Kloten. When I reached the 80-year old farmhouse, I rang the doorbell and waited. A Swiss Tavolata sign hung nearby that read, “Liebe Gäste herzlich Willkommen” (Welcome, dear guests).
I had never been to this house before, and I was entering as a complete stranger to its owner, Maya Bücheler. Yet, she was expecting me. She does this all the time — hosting people she has never met for one of her home-cooked meals made with local products and traditional Swiss dishes. I was one of six guests for her Swiss Tavolata brunch, this time being held in conjunction with FOOD ZURICH — an annual citywide food festival.
Maya greeted me warmly at the door, and as I entered the dining room, my eyes were immediately drawn to the beautiful table with fresh flowers and a large loaf of zopf, the braided Swiss bread for Sundays. A small table in the corner had birchermüesli, fresh grapes, dried apple rings and a second loaf of bread, this time with figs. Swiss Tavolata requires that its hosts serve food products from their own farm or the local region — at least 80 percent of the meal.
What is Swiss Tavolata?
Swiss Tavolata allows people to have the unique experience of eating Swiss food in a home environment. At the same time, it helps to support the local economy in agricultural communities. Over 40 people — all living on farms or in rural areas throughout Switzerland — have been approved as hosts by Swiss Tavolata. These hosts, most of whom are women, offer meals they prepare themselves in their home kitchens for registered guests. You can find all of the available hosts and book a date for your meal online.
Maya has been a host for Swiss Tavolata since it started in 2014. She comes from a big family and enjoys inviting people to her house and sharing food around the table. With Swiss Tavolata, she can continue to bring people together, even though they may not know each other. It helps that she speaks several languages: German, French, Italian and English. She also likes to cook. For her meals, she takes advantage of fresh eggs from her chickens and the fruit trees growing on her farm — including apple, quince and Reine Claude plums — as well as ingredients from her family members living in the area.
What was the menu for the Swiss Tavolata Brunch?
For the FOOD ZURICH brunch, Maya served us the following and more:
- Homemade bread and rolls with butter, jam and honey
- Birchermüesli with fresh and dried fruit
- Regional cheese platter with fresh figs and walnuts
- Assorted salami and dried, cured meats
- Eggs cooked to your preference and served with rösti and bacon
- Plum tart with whipped cream
- Coffee, tea, apple juice, and sparkling cider (sans alcohol)
Everything was fresh, homemade, delicious and very Swiss! The dining room was bright and welcoming, and it was a pleasure getting to know the other guests at the table — three generations of a family who live nearby. Whether you grew up in Switzerland or are visiting here, Swiss Tavolata can give you a glimpse of rural life in Switzerland, both new and old traditions. While we ate, we could ask Maya about the food, the ingredients and her life on the farm. In comparison to eating in a restaurant, I think that a meal with Swiss Tavolata has a more personal touch — good conversation, excellent food and wonderful hospitality. You can experience Switzerland and its food from the perspective of a lifelong resident, and in their own home.
There is still time to take advantage of Swiss Tavolata events during FOOD ZURICH 2017, with Maya Bücheler and with two other hosts in the Zürich area, Karin Keller and Eveline Ott. If you cannot make it to these brunch or dinner events, then you can go directly to the Swiss Tavolata website and reserve a meal for another date or for another region of Switzerland. The cost of the brunch is CHF 46 per person and CHF 26 for children from 4-12 years. For the Swiss Tavolata dinners, the cost is CHF 96 per person (with wine), CHF 76 per person (without wine) and CHF 46 for children from 4-12 years.
For more information:
- Swiss Tavolata at FOOD ZURICH 2017 — a list of all the dates and hosts participating in this year’s event
- FOOD ZURICH (September 7-17)
- Swiss Tavolata
Please note: I attended this brunch with Maya Bücheler as a guest of Swiss Tavolata and FOOD ZURICH in order to provide an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are purely my own.