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Cooking Across 4 Generations

Using recipes collected from 4 generations of one family

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Neuchatel

Geneva Day 3: St Imier, Broc and Gruyeres

Day 3 saw us with an extra early start. We had a 2 ½ hour drive to the dial factory, Cadrans Flückiger at St Imier in the Canton of Jura. Under grey skies and a light shower we boarded our bus and headed out of Geneva along the lake. Once we were out of the city we drove through beautiful green countryside with the occasional rainbow.

Wet and miserable morning
Wet and miserable morning
Rainbow on our way
Rainbow on our way

Cadrans Flückiger S.A. is a subsidiary company of Patek Philippe. They specialize in the manufacture and finishing of dials. Not only do they make dials for Patek Philippe, they also do dials for companies such as Audemars Piguet and IWC, among others. It was fascinating to learn that a dial can have anywhere from 40 to 70 processes applied to it and can take up to 3 months to make.

Cadrans Flückiger
Cadrans Flückiger

Dial enamelling and guilloché engraving are also carried out at Cadrans Flückiger and we were fortunate to be able to see the artisans working at both techniques. Enameling is very pretty but the amount of work involved explains why the pricing can be quite a bit more for an enamel dial watch. The engraving studio also had several guilloché machines dating back to the 1800’s still being used.

Cadrans Flückiger
Cadrans Flückiger

Lunch was at the Hotel Beau Rivage Neuchatel,a hotel we stayed at several years ago. Not associated with the Beau Rivage Geneva, this stately hotel is also situated by a lake, Lake Neuchatel to be precise. It was nice to return even if for a little while.

Beau Rivage Neuchatel
Beau Rivage Neuchatel
Beau Rivage Neuchatel
Beau Rivage Neuchatel

Memories of our dinner on our last visit had us anticipating the wonderful lunch that awaited us.

Beau Rivage Neuchatel, menu
Beau Rivage Neuchatel, menu
Beau Rivage Neuchatel, menu
Beau Rivage Neuchatel, menu

The wild mushrooms in puff pastry were very tasty and the freshness of the mushrooms was evident in the level of flavor.

Wild mushrooms in puff pastry
Wild mushrooms in puff pastry

Main course was a simple prepared chicken supreme, with vegetables and a chorizo cream sauce. The sauce had a nice spiciness to it.

Chicken with chorizo sauce
Chicken with chorizo sauce

Dessert was an apple tart tatin, beautifully presented and very delicious!

Tarte Tatin
Tarte Tatin

After lunch we had time for a quick walk outside.

Neuchatel
Neuchatel
Neuchatel
Neuchatel

After our fantastic lunch it was back on to the bus. Our next destination was a visit to the chocolate factory of Maison Cailler, located in the town of Broc, situated in the mountains of the La Gruyere region. Now part of the Nestle Group, Maison Cailler was founded in the early 1800’s by Francois-Lois Cailler. Over the next 100 or so years the manufacturing of chocolate was perfected with the ultimate secret to creaminess being the use of condensed milk made with the high quality milk from the cows of the region.

Maison Cailler
Maison Cailler
Maison Cailler
Maison Cailler
Maison Cailler
Maison Cailler

We took part in a tour of the factory which started with a series of rooms, each depicting a different period in the history of chocolate. From the Aztecs to the Conquisatadors, the arrival of chocolate in Europe, right up to the founding of Maison Cailler and the 20th century. Very interesting and well presented.

History of Maison Cailler
History of Maison Cailler
History of Maison Cailler
History of Maison Cailler
Old labels at Maison Cailler
Old labels at Maison Cailler
Aztec room, Maison Cailler tour
Aztec room, Maison Cailler tour
Aztec room, Maison Cailler tour
Aztec room, Maison Cailler tour
Conquistador room, Maison Cailler tour
Conquistador room, Maison Cailler tour
Arrival of chocolate into Europe trhough Spain
Arrival of chocolate into Europe trhough Spain
The search for the perfect location for Maison Cailler
The search for the perfect location for Maison Cailler

After the history rooms you start in to the factory proper. Glass walls separate the factory from the tour area where displays and samples of ingredients are arranged. An audio device is given to each tour member at the start and when held to an icon at each display, you learn more about the ingredients and where they are from. There is also information on the farmers/growers and their locations in the world.

Diagram of chocolte processing
Diagram of chocolte processing
Cailler "Branches" in production
Cailler “Branches” in production
Maison Cailler Factory
Maison Cailler Factory
Maison Cailler Factory
Maison Cailler Factory

And of course you can’t finish a chocolate factory tour without trying some freshly made chocolate. There were around a dozen samples to taste. Thankfully I only tried 4 which was quite sufficient.

TIme for a taste
TIme for a taste

We also had time for a bit of chocolate retail therapy.

Shopping at Maison Cailler
Shopping at Maison Cailler
Wall of chocolate at Maison Cailler
Wall of chocolate at Maison Cailler

This ends part 1 of Day 3 part two will see us head to the historic for town of Gruyeres for dinner.

 

Beau Rivage – Neuchatel

Part of the reason for our trip to Zurich was to go and visit the workshops of two high end, independent watchmakers, Greubel Forsey and Kari Voutilainen. This meant we would need to have an over night stay close to La Chaux-de-Fonds and Môtiers. Consulting Google we decided our base would be Neuchâtel and our accomodation the Beau Rivage Hotel. As we were being picked up and driven from Zurich to go to La Chaux-de-Fonds and then to Neuchâtel, it would only be a short return train trip for us to Môtiers.

Lac de Neuchâtel

The Beau Rivage Hotel is located on the edge of Lake Neuchâtel (AKA lac de Neuchâtel in French and Neuenburgersee in German) with views of the Lake and the Alps in the distance. Originally a grand town house of great elegance built in 1862, during the first part of the 20th century it was home to a famous restaurant,  the building was entirely renovated in 1993 to become the first 5-star hotel of the Three Lakes region. The Beau Rivage is a member of Relais & Chateau and is rated as 5 étoiles Supérieure, Gault Millau rating 14, and is in Guide Michelin.

Beau Rivage, Neuchâtel
Beau Rivage, bar and terrace
View from our room

 

Our room

After a full day visiting Greubel Forsey and touring the magnificent Musée d’Horlogerie du Locle, housed in the historic Château des Monts at Le Locle, we arrived at the Beau Rivage, checked in, freshened up and had a walk around the town. With Neuchâtel being in the heart of Switzerland’s watchmaking mecca it was not surprising to find watch references around town. Beautiful old buildings abound and the views of the lake and alps are spectacular. Someone was even water skiing which got me a bit jealous.

After our walk we went to dine in the hotel’s Restaurant O Terroirs. As the evening was spectacularly mild we were given the choice of dining on the lake side veranda or inside. Of course we decided outside would be nicer. Watching the sunset over Lake Neuchâtel while the dying rays of the sun tint the majestic Swiss Alps in shades of pink and grey while having a wonderful meal is truly a memory I won’t forget. Thanks to Greubel Forsey for our diner.

Sun setting on the alps, looking across Lake Neuchâtel

First up was an amuse bouche of crab, tomato and avocado….

Amuse bouche of crab and

Mr. CA4G had an entree of seared foie gras…..

Foie gras, tempura onion rings, asparagus

I enjoyed a “cigar” of egg plant filled with goat curd, on a lemon sponge, olive oil ice cream…..

“cigar” of eggplant filled with goat curd

For mains Mr. CA4G had lamb three ways, cutlet, loin, merguez sausage, with cous cous, while I opted for duck meat balls, proscuitto, potato crisps, artichokes……

Lamb three ways
Duck meat balls

Having had dessert at lunch we opted for cheese, all local to the region….

Local artisanal cheese board

As we were finishing our meal, the clouds rolled in, and a spectacular sound and light show(storm) rolled across the lake.

The next morning was light but drizzly. We had a lovely buffet breakfast in the hotel and caught our first Swiss cab to the station. Now  my French isn’t the best and I do know how to ask for “two return tickets to Môtiers” unfortunately I don’t know the French for “which platform”.  Luckily for us a young Swiss man spoke good English and was able to direct us. The train to Môtiers takes about 40 minutes from Neuchâtel, passing through lush green fields and mountains, stopping at  several lovely little towns. Arriving at Môtiers, we were met at the station by Kari Voutilainen and walked to his house a short way from the station. Not knowing much about Môtiers, we were surprised to find it was (and still is) a town with a history of Absinth production, apart from watch production. After a leisurely tour through Kari’s Atelier looking at his watches and production, he took us to lunch in the local cafe/hall/beer house. Unfortunately no photos, but we had the special of the day which was Chilli con carne( I know you, go all the way to Switzerland to have chilli con carne, but it was GOOD), followed by creme brulee. Seriously good, must be all that fabulous Swiss cream and free range eggs.

Bovet Absinth distillery, Môtiers

Saying good bye to Môtiers, we headed back to Neuchâtel to catch our train to Zurich. As the train wound its way through the country side we saw many vineyards that produce some great Swiss wines.

Thanks for dropping in!! Look out for my Zurich report.

Beau Rivage Hotel

1, Esplanade du Mont-Blanc, CH-2000 Neuchâtel

T +41 32 723 15 15

http://www.beau-rivage-hotel.ch/en/

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