Crystallization Project 2019: Tavolata-Style Dining from the Swiss Alpine Club

You may know the Swiss Alpine Club for its mountain huts, hiking and climbing courses and other activities. Founded in 1863, it was Switzerland’s first mountain sports association. Today, it boasts about 150,000 members. To help expand programming options, this year it offered a new Crystallization series of events. Described as “the cultural project for all the senses,” these events included a culinary component highlighting alpine foods.

Roasted eggplant with black garlic prepared by Chef Rafael Rodriguez.

Combining music, literature, discussions, food and more, these 9 alpine-focused cultural events took place throughout Switzerland between May and October 2019. These events explored the concept of whether “the values ​​of alpine culture still have a future in the urban world.” Given its focus on alpine food, I gladly signed up for the final Tavolata-style dinner with author Dominik Flammer.

Looking from the outside in at the Alpine Museum. Photo credit: Micha Bardy 

A Taste of Lausanne at the Swiss Alpine Museum

Held at las alps, the Swiss Alpine Museum’s restaurant in Bern, the dinner featured mountain-inspired dishes. Rafael Rodriguez, the talented chef from the Auberge de l’Abbaye de Montheron, cooked for us that evening. The majority of the ingredients came from within a radius of about 30 kilometers around his restaurant, located in the Jorat forest above Lausanne.

Fish eggs and foie gras from Chef Rafael Rodriguez. Photo credit: Micha Bardy 

Dominik Flammer, our host for the evening, leads the Zurich-based research firm, Public History. He has also co-authored several books on alpine foods, such as Swiss Cheese: Origins, Traditional Cheese Varieties and New Creations (2010) and Das kulinarische Erbe der Alpen (The Culinary Heritage of the Alps, 2012). Another project he has in the works is the new Culinarium Alpinum, a competence center for alpine culinary arts. Located in Stans in the canton of Nidwalden, its inauguration will take place in 2020.

Dominik Flammer leading us through the Tavolata. Photo credit: Micha Bardy 

Throughout the evening, Flammer gave us some historical perspectives on the dishes we received and passed around the table. For example, he gave us some advice for how to make the best Swiss cheese fondue. Overall, I enjoyed the Tavolata style of dining that encouraged sharing and conversation. One of the many memorable dishes from that evening was the “Alpine Mojito,” a dessert with a palette of green hues. More specifically, this mildly sweet dessert had flavors of homemade Génépi (an eau-de-vie made with an alpine plant called white genepi), cucumber, fennel and more.

Chef Rafael Rodriguez and Director and Sommelier David Donneaud of the Auberge de l’Abbaye de Montheron. Photo credit: Micha Bardy 

Finally, while the Crystallization project has ended for 2019, you can read about the various events held as part of this series via the Swiss Alpine Club website.

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2 replies »

    • It was a great meal. I went by myself to this event and met a lot of wonderful people. The Tavolata style forces you to talk with your neighbors, and I really enjoy it!

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