A Swiss-Spanish Meal in the Smallest City in the World

Two celebrated chefs, Andreas Caminada from Switzerland and Jordi Cruz from Spain—each with three Michelin stars, came together one autumn day in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. Organized by the Spanish Embassy in Bern, I attended this exclusive culinary event with about 30 guests at Schloss Schauenstein, Caminada’s signature restaurant. In an effort to showcase Spanish food and wine before a Swiss audience, this special meal also gave these two chefs the chance to learn from each other.

Andreas Caminada (left) and Jordi Cruz (far right) at Schloss Schauenstein. Photo credit: Foods and Wines from Spain.

For this event, Caminada and Cruz worked together to prepare an unforgettable menu of parallel courses—four from each chef, paired with Spanish wines selected by David Schwarzwälder. Before we sat down to enjoy this meal, Schwarzwälder, a wine expert and winner of Spain’s national sommelier competition known as Nariz de Oro (Golden Nose), led us through a tasting of 13 award-winning red wines. 

Schloss Schauenstein – Fine Dining in a Swiss Castle

On December 6, 2018, Schloss Schauenstein in Fürstenau, Switzerland, celebrated its 15th anniversary. Andreas Caminada, who grew up in nearby Savognin, created this boutique hotel and restaurant in a refurbished castle that was built between 1667 and 1676. 

Fürstenau likes to claim that it is the smallest city in the world due to a letter dating back to the 14th century from King Charles IV, the Holy Roman emperor. In this letter, he granted the Bishop of Chur “the right to dungeons, stocks and gallows,” and to hold two fairs, which apparently made it a city. As of December 31, 2017, the total population was 349 residents.

With three Michelin stars and 19 out of 20 points from Gault & Millau, Caminada has brought significant attention to this little corner of Switzerland. With his cooking style described as “contemporary Swiss,” he works with local producers and draws upon the local ingredients from the region, presenting them in new and surprising ways. 

In addition to the accolades Caminada has received in Switzerland, Schloss Schauenstein has also garnered significant attention within the international culinary world.

  • For 2018, it appears at position #47 among the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
  • Most recently, La Liste 2019—an annual French ranking of restaurants—also placed Caminada’s castle in the top 50 of restaurants globally.
  • Opinionated About Dining, which incorporates customer reviews, has placed Schloss Schauenstein at #1 on its list of Top 100+ European Restaurants 2018.

I first met and interviewed Caminada at Chef Alps in Zürich in May 2017. We talked about his other restaurants known as IGNIV, located at the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in Zürich and at Badrutt’s Palace in St. Moritz. He told me about his foundation, Fundaziun Uccelin, which supports young chefs by offering them a 6-month training program or scholarship funds for academic training. 

More than a year later, I was thrilled to finally arrive in Fürstenau to experience a meal at Schloss Schauenstein myself. Plus, I had the added bonus of tasting dishes from the talented Jordi Cruz, Executive Chef at the 3-Michelin starred ABaC Restaurant in Barcelona. Cruz is well-known in Spain, not only for his restaurants and as an author, but for his role as a judge on the popular Spanish television show, Master Chef.

Spanish Wine Seminar: Vibrant Reds

While Caminda and Cruz were preparing our meal that morning, David Schwarzwälder shared his vast knowledge of Spanish wine with us during our pre-lunch seminar and tasting. This seminar took place in Casa Caminada, a new guesthouse, restaurant and bakery across the street from Schloss Schauenstein.

As the only non-German speaker at this event, Schwarzwälder kindly gave me a brief English translation for each of the thirteen red wines from Spain that we sampled. With flights that had themes like “Celebrating Ripeness” (full, fruity wines) and “Mission Impossible” (vineyards that had faced some challenges), I enjoyed his sense of humor and the enthusiasm he brought to the seminar.

A few facts about Spain’s wine industry…

  • At nearly 2.4 million acres, Spain has the largest area of vineyards in the world.
  • According to the Economic Trade Department of the Spanish Embassy in Bern, Spain accounts for nearly 13 percent of the world’s total wine production.
  • In terms of the most important clients of Spanish wine exports, Switzerland is ranked fifth. 

During the wine seminar, Schwarzwälder introduced us to different Spanish grape varieties, such as Monastrell, Tinto Fino, Garnacha and Bobal—the third most planted grape in Spain. We tasted wines that had aged between 9 and 19 months. He talked about young winemakers reviving old varieties while also introducing new production methods. We learned about how some winemakers include the stems in the fermentation process, which can help to dilute the wine in a more natural way. For every glass we tried, he gave us detailed descriptions of its provenance and what makes it special.

Due to the focus on red wine during the seminar, Schwarzwälder told us that white wine would be primarily served during our meal from Caminada and Cruz. After over an hour of copious note-taking, I gathered up my things and crossed the quiet street toward the historic castle.

The lobby of Schloss Schauenstein.

An Elegant Swiss-Spanish Meal from Caminada & Cruz

As we entered the Schloss Schauenstein, we were directed to take the stairs up to an elegant sitting room for an aperitif: thin slices of crimson Jamón Ibérico de Bellota with a sparkling glass of Cava de Paraje. 

The Menu: 3*Kulinarik²

Following the aperitif upstairs, we wandered back to the main floor of the castle and divided ourselves into two cozy dining rooms. I chose the room with chestnut-brown wood paneling and lots of natural light. Covered with crisp, white tablecloths, the large round tables facilitated conversation and sharing of the many plates we were about to receive…

Amuse-bouche: Caminada – The amuse-bouche included little, colorful dishes that were full of flavor, such as beetroot-coated hazelnuts and bright yellow quail egg yolks delicately placed on a tartar-topped toast.

White cabbage bowl – Caminada
Wine: Sálvora 2011 – Bodega Rodrigo Méndez
This delicious cold starter had a frozen cabbage-flavored sphere filled with what reminded me of a light cabbage slaw. 

Photo credit: Foods and Wines from Spain

False egg yolk with Iberian textures and parmentier – Cruz
Wine: Tras da Viña 2015, Adegas Zárate
This comforting dish paired Spanish ham and puréed potatoes, topped with a hint of molecular gastronomy—an “egg yolk.” I really enjoyed this dish.

Photo credit: Foods and Wines from Spain

Carabineros – 2 plates – Caminada
Wine: Escalada 2016, Adega Algueira
One of my favorite dishes of the meal—bright carabineros, a deep-sea Spanish prawn served with nage, pumpkin crème and chili sauce. 

Swiss cheese dish with fermented vegetables – Cruz
Wine
: Trossos Tros Blanc 2011 Magnum, Portal del Priorat 
Another example of molecular cuisine, as well as a blending of Spanish and Swiss styles, Cruz took 6 cheeses from Switzerland and recreated them as soft, delicate spheres. Here are the cheeses he selected for this dish: 

  • Der Wilde von Walde
  • Goldinger
  • Geiss Käse
  • Atzmänniger Bergchäsli
  • Blaue Geiss
  • Gruyère

Milken cauliflower – Caminada
Wine
: Pairal 2014 – Can Ràfols del Caus
Another comforting dish, this time from Caminada, involved cauliflower prepared three different ways, served with a savory sweetbread and a vibrant lemon sauce. 

Turbot suquet and picada with romesco sauce – Cruz
Wine
: El Caribe 2016, Bodega Luis Pérez
Cruz’s version of a Catalan seafood stew made with turbot and sea cucumber grabbed everyone’s attention when it arrived at the table because of the beautiful patterned ring of sauces and olive oil surrounding this dish. 

Chamois, black salsify and beetroot – Caminada
Wine: Rumbo al Norte 2015, Comando G
For Caminada’s main dish, he served us a tender filet of chamois with black salsify and beetroot. 

Fermented wind fritter with frozen vanilla – Cruz
Wine
: Moscatel N°2 Victoria 2016 and Moscatel N°3 Old Vines 2014, Bodegas Jorge Ordóñez
Inspired by the Buñuelo de Viento, a traditional Spanish dessert fried in olive oil, Cruz reinvented them as a fermented choux pastry served with a vanilla ice cream.

Friandises – Caminada
Brandy Single Barrel N°7, Ximénez-Spinola
Similar to the amuse-bouche at the start of the meal, Caminada finished up this extravagant menu with a selection of bite-size friandises

Following our meal, we went back upstairs to the sitting room to meet with the two chefs, who had just completed a long day of work in the kitchen. They talked about how chefs used to almost hide their recipes. Now they find that chefs are more open and enjoy working with and learning from each other. Caminada said that it was an honor to have Cruz at his restaurant. Cruz said that he plans to tell everyone in Spain about Andreas Caminada, and he hopes he will come and visit him at his restaurant in Barcelona in the future.

Photo credit: Foods and Wines from Spain.

In the Domleschg valley where Schloss Schauenstein is situated, the sun apparently shines more than 1,500 hours a year, and because of a wind known as a “foehn,” it has warmer temperatures than all the other valleys in Graubünden. We had one of those brilliant sunny days for this event, which used food as a means of connecting these different cultures. Combining the best of Swiss and Spanish gastronomy into one extraordinary meal, it highlighted the resources of these talented chefs and their countries of origin. Special thanks to Andreas Caminada, Jordi Cruz and David Schwarzwälder for a very memorable day in the smallest city in the world.

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Please note: I attended this event as a guest of WOEHRLE PIROLA and the Spanish Embassy in Bern, Switzerland. As always, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are purely my own.

Related article:

Andreas Caminada: Swiss “Rock Star” Chef Gives Back with New Foundation (June 2017)

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