Thursday, January 27, 2011

Traditional Swiss meals: Les Armures in Geneva

Les Armures, one of the favourites of my watch buddies when we come visiting during the Salon International de Haut Horologie (SIHH). Some of them love the place so much, they stay at this little boutique hotel up the hill just by the old town of Geneva. The name refers to the gunnery just behind the hotel, with its ancient guns originally trained to protect the city against its enemies.

But a quaint little place this is. As one enters, the whiff of cheese is rather strong. This was, afterall Switzerland, and this restaurant is one of the places to enjoy raclette and fondue. But I am fond of neither, but have still grown to love this place...for it serves great lamb and other delicacies.

table layout at the basement of the restaurant at Hotel Les Armures Geneva

The occassion this time was dinner with Laurent Ferrier and his team, after a successful launch of his Gallet Tourbillon watch, and a new peek-a-boo timepiece shown earlier that day at the Geneva Time Exhibition (GTE).

I started with a French Onion Soup:

French Onion Soup with cheese gratine Hotel Les Armures Geneva

A thick, rich onion soup...stewed till the onions have caramalised and profuses a sweetness to the broth, a thick layer of toasted breadcrumbs, covered by a layer of cheese and baked. For those who love cheeses, this was absolutly delicious. Wonderful aromas of the onions infuse gently with the cheese. Excellent, and one of the best French Onion Soups I have had in a while.

As a sample, a plate of rackette was served:

swiss cheese racklette

A melted lump of cheese...eaten wrapped around a potato. For the cheese lover, again this was a slice of heaven. I like cheese, but am not totally crazy with it, so one serving of this rackette suffices to satisfy...and it was indeed satisfying. But connoiseurs will eat 5 or 6 servings in a meal. A heavy meal indeed.

Raclette is actually from the French term to scrape, and the traditional method is to start with a semi-solid piece of cow cheese, and with the aid of a flame or heat source to melt the surface. As the cheese melts, a small knife is scrapped into the diner's plate. In Les Armures, this was already done in the kitchen, and the ceremony of scraping or racler (French) is not performed.

For my mains, I had the rack of lamb:

grilled rack of lamb with potato rosti

This was served medium rare:

grilled rACK of lamb detail showing medium rare meat

and with potato rosti...another Swiss favourite. Rosti is kind of like a hash brown, but often served covering the entire plate.

The lamb was from New Zealand, and as fine as it ever was. Tender, flavourful. Rich tasting. The rosti was well done...a crisp and rich crust over the starchy interior.

Swiss food is rather rich, with lots of cheese, butter, potatos and heavy meats (sometimes). And for traditional Swiss, Les Armures is certainly a good option for Geneva.

Hotel Les Armures
Rue du Puits-Saint-Pierre 1
1204 Geneva, Switzerland
022 310 91 72

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