So we definitely are more familiar with King Cakes and paczkis, but the reach of the Mardi Gras fried doughnut also extends to Germany with Fasnacht. Fasnacht is a type of fried doughnut used to celebrate the holiday of Fasnacht, from where it gets its name. Fasnacht/Fastnacht (as it is called in Germany, Austria and Switzerland) means “Fast Night” and is the day before Ash Wednesday, where the last decadent treats (like the sugar and oil in doughnuts) are supposed to be eaten before the austerity of Lent kicks in. Fasnacht doughnuts may be square-shaped or more round like paczkis. I have never seen Fasnacht for sale, but outside of German-speaking Europe you can find them in small pockets, especially in places with Amish populations! Here are some recipes from All Recipes, Eve of Reduction, and PA Dutch Country (recipe circa 1936).
Tag Archives: Switzerland
We are all about a good bakery, and though we have visited many Italian, Mexican, French and Portuguese bakeries over the years, other countries have flown under the radar. But here in Cleveland we recently came across a bakery dedicated to all things Swiss, Zoss Bakery (12397 Cedar Rd., Cleveland Heights). Who knew? The concept of the Swiss bakery reminds us of New Glarus, Wisconsin, a fully Swiss-themed town, which we visited many moons ago at the start of our ETW journey. Zoss Bakery is located in a small, nondescript building in Cleveland Heights, just east of Cleveland, and is helmed by an actual Swiss baker, Kurt Zoss.
Though small, the bakery is well stocked with all manner of sweet and savory goods. There are many different types of bread on the back wall: baguette, honey wheat, sourdough, multi grain, brioche and the unusual Krustenkrone, a ring of bread composed of smaller rolls. There were also several types of croissants, both sweet and savory (almond, chocolate, cheese, ham, etc.), and Bavarian pretzels (we had to get both a croissant and pretzel – both of which were amazing). There are also more Americanized offerings like chocolate cookies, coconut macaroons and muffins.
There is also a cooler with a variety of chilled desserts, which is where the really interesting stuff was hidden. There were a variety of Swiss treats including the classic chocolate and apricot Linzer torte, apple strudel, and a flourless chocolate torte. We were also intrigued by the most geometric dessert we have ever seen, the perfectly-triangular Nussecken, which was composed of two pieces of hazelnut shortbread with apricot jam, with a coating of chocolate – delicious! We were excited to sample some more esoteric Swiss treats at Zoss, and hope to be back soon for more inexplicably geometric pastries.
We here at ETW love the Olympics, so we are excited to cover some international cuisine as it relates to this very international sporting event. An important spot for the Olympics is Lausanne, Switzerland, home of the International Olympic Committee. An awesome Swiss Geopolitical and food related concept (how fun!) is that of the Röstigraben. It garners its name from the grated potato dish Rösti, which originated in Bern and is popular in the Swiss German areas. We were first introduced to the Röstigraben through the Strange Maps blog, and it is a strange map, represented above by Switzerland in the shape of a Rösti. The Röstigraben is the divide between the cultural areas of eastern German and western French Switzerland, which is further described in this National Geographic article. Lausanne, as it so happens is on the Western side of the Röstigraben. Well west of the Röstigraben, we enjoyed some very nice Rösti in the heavily-Swiss New Glarus, Wisconsin. Yumblog has a recipe for Rösti, which looks easy as pie.
Green County Cheese Days
September 19-21, 2008
It seems like Wisconsin has some of the most random and wonderful festivals. The latest one we perused was Monroe, Wisconsin’s bi-annual Green County Cheese Days. M and I love attending food themed festivals but more often than not, the festival in question turns out to be a more general carnival/fair, paying no more than passing lip service to the food in question (We’re talking about you Harvard Milk Days). Cheese days did not disappoint, though. When we arrived in Monroe, Wisconsin we were heartened to see jolly old folks in Swiss garb and signs advertising the copious amounts of cheese-related activities.
There was a cheese tent, clearly the highlight of the day. The perimeter of the tent was loaded with vendors and the inner ring was an absolute chaos of cheese-hungry visitors. Though there was no real order to the sampling, there was a crush of people who insisted in standing in a single-file line, requiring M and I to swoop in for samples. We tried limburger, a slew of emmenthals, flavored cheese curds, goudas, muensters and many more. All varieties we available for purchase and some of the more industrious visitors even brought along portable coolers to house their purchases. Next to the cheese tent was a cheesemaking demonstration where a master cheesemaker was making a giant wheel of Emmenthaler. It was actually pretty impressive to see the 200-pound wheel of cheese forming in the copper kettle. The whole process took around 4 hours. Above is a picture of the cheese-in-process being hoisted from the copper kettle to the cheese mold.
As with any good themed festival, there were plenty of cheesy (ha ha!) activities. For example – we attended the first round of a cow milking contest, which was about what you’d expect. Turner Hall (above) had a craft fair with traditional Swiss wares, as well as history exhibits featuring the town. There was also a Swiss culture tent from the Swiss consulate which ironically featured Ricola cough drops and free bumper stickers incorporating the Swiss flag’s iconic cross. I got an all-red bumper sticker with “Neu+ral” written on it in white. I thought it was pretty clever. To cap off the experience, at the main stage there were polka lessons. M and I learned quickly that polka-ing is not difficult and with his Alpine roots M naturally excelled at the dance.
For lunch there was a variety of choices, most being heavy Swiss fare or cheese-related dishes. We opted for Apple Jack cheese sandwiches, being grilled up fresh by cheery volunteers on electric griddles. As the helpful cheese griller informed us – no apples were indeed involved – the cheese was named after Apple River, IL, where it was created. We had our grilled cheese on pumpernickel with a secret sauce that tasted something like thick french onion soup. Three dollars well spent. We probably had a pound of cheese each that day – so it goes without saying we will be back in 2 years!
New Glarus Bakery
534 First St
New Glarus, WI
After our hearty lunch at the New Glarus Hotel, we wandered around the town of New Glarus popping in and out of the Euro-themed gift stores (we wanted to go to the Chocolate and Cheese Haus, but it was closed). We came across the New Glarus bakery, where we though we might be able to get a bretzel, and perhaps some sweet treats. While they didn’t have bretzels, there were glass cases filled with unusual cookies at very cheap prices. We ended up sampling 4 varieties for a grand total of about a dollar:
- Spekulatius – These were square gingerbread cookies, which are relatives of the Belgian Speculoos. These were chewy with pieces of ginger and almond throughout.
- Sandbissen – Your basic shortbread cookie. Not bad. Not sweet enough for our tastes, though.
- Chocolate Blueberry Spritz – A classic chocolate sugar spritz cookie with a dried blueberry in the center. Nice, dark chocolate in a cute star shape (shaped by a cookie press).
- Pfeffernüsse – Covered in powdered sugar, and flavored with cloves, cinnamon and black pepper, these were the most unusual cookies of the bunch.
As you can see from this picture, there were plenty more varieties to try – making your own sampler won’t break the bank. We were impressed by the unusual cookie selection, and we will definitely be back.
New Glarus Hotel Restaurant
100 6th Avenue
New Glarus, WI
New Glarus, Wisconsin has the distinction of being “America’s Little Switzerland,” having preserved it’s Swiss heritage since its founding in the mid-1800s. Arriving in the town, you do get a hint (ok a lot) of kitsch. All of the buildings are alpine chalet-style. Even the RE/MAX and self-storage boast Swiss canton crests and half-timbers.
Rolling into the town at about 1 PM Wednesday, it was pretty much dead. Our first stop was the New Glarus Hotel, the biggest building in town, home of the New Glarus Hotel Restaurant, featuring polka music on the weekends and tons of old-school decor.
We had a very friendly dirndl-clad waitress, who could clearly tell we were not local. We were quickly presented with a huge menu of old-school Swiss food as we listened to some yodeling piped in on speakers (no lie). The menu consisted of tons of Schnitzels, Roestis, Raclette as well as some basic American sandwiches. L started out with a cup of Swiss Onion Soup, which seemed to be a cup of French Onion soup with an extra crust of melty Gruyere, but with chunks of bacon (unfortunately, since L doesn’t like bacon that much). For a main course, L had the Roesti, a traditional Swiss dish. A Rösti/Roesti is basically a huge, glorified hash brown, consisting of grated potatoes fried with with caramelized onions and a bit of Raclette as a filling. L ordered the plain Roesti, though there were meat and cheese varieties. Though M ate most of L’s soup, the Roesti was quickly gobbled up.
M had the Raclette entree, which was basically a plate of boiled potatoes with melted Raclette cheese garnished with capers, baby gherkins and onions. The dish was probably overpriced at $11 (it was only potatoes and cheese), but M loves cheese so he enjoyed it. We sopped up the extra cheese with garlic rolls from the breadbasket, which were really excellent.
This was our first foray into Swiss food, and as far as we can tell, it is like German food, but with cheese. We like cheese, so that was a plus. There are a handful of other restaurants in New Glarus, most boasting the same stick-to-your-ribs meat/cheese/potato fare. The New Glarus Hotel restaurant is a good place to start – we only wish we had been there on polka night.