Grand Hotel des Rasses
At 1,200 metres above sea level, this hotel was built at the end of the 19th century. The Grand Hôtel des Rasses stands in the middle of a park against the backdrop of a long chain of the Alps. The hotel has 44 rooms with period features. A place to relax, a heated swimming pool as well as a sauna and sports facilities are available to guests.
Belle Epoque Restaurant
The restaurant “Belle Epoque” proposes a modern twist on regional dishes. We took our time for a pre-dinner champagne (or three) on the terrace that affords exceptional panoramic views of Montblanc and the Alps. We quietly watched the revelry at a wedding party as we sipped
The house restaurant, ‘Belle Epoque’, is named after the 40 year period that preceded the First World War, characterized by optimism, Western European peace, economic prosperity, pinnacles of colonial empires and technological, scientific and cultural innovations. The arts flourished as highlights of music, theatre, literature, and visual art were recognised.
The restaurant has parquet floors, pillars and large chandeliers so evocative of the period.
As we had been grazing all day, we passed on the degustation menu and chose some light items from the ala carte selection. We already had a selection of nibbles with our pre-dinner champagne so a Starter was out of the question.
The complementary ‘Amuse Bouche’ was light enough. Cold beetroot veloute with Summer fruits, vegetable compote and croutons was a pleasant hit of flavour and freshness; Summer in a shot glass.
My grazing partner had a Summer Salad and Pommes Frites on-the-side.
The ingredients were fresh and the execution was more than competent. Well seasoned, the light dressing enhanced the Summer produce. The ‘chips’ were double-fried in the prescribed manner of classic French cooking.
I indulged in another example of my latest raw food fetish…..
In a Land of Bovine Pulchritude I had to order the most “trusting” beef dish that a restaurant can offer – steak tartare.
But this was a kitchen of the old school; I was a little surprised when this little ‘boat’ arrived at the table. Surely not another ‘Amuse Bouche’?
Nay! It was a sample of my steak tartare that had been sent for tasting approval before final adjustments to the main dish. Classy….
Naturally, I made no adjustments….et voila!
My steak tartare made it’s appearance with a few rounds of warm toast and butter.
It was a delicious meal. The steak may not have been as fatty and flavoursome as when we last ate on a highland cattle farm but there was no fault in execution. The meat had been diced perfectly and the seasoning much more preferable than my ‘Do-It-Yourself’ attempt the last time I had steak tartare.
Piquant, spicy and enough unctuous egg yolk to make up for the lean meat, the seasoning was, as we say in North-East England: “sufficient”.
Bonvillars is a small wine region in the nothernmost part of Vaud, Switzerland’s second-largest wine region. The key vineyards are located on south-facing slopes. Being less than a mile from the shoreline of Lake Neuchâtel, these sites enjoy a moderated climate with high levels of light reflected from the surface of the lake. Although Pinot Noir and Chasselas are the key grape varieties grown in Bonvillars, we tried a Gamaret, a grape hybrid created by the ‘Station Fédérale de Recherches en Production Végétale de Changins’ (Federal Research Station for Plant Production) in 1970 by crossing Gamay and Reichensteiner.
The wine is dark purple with aromas of blackberries and spices and with subtle tannin. Tt went very nicely with the steak tartare.
You are highly unlikely to find a bottle of Gamaret GOURMAND from Bonvillars outside of Switzerland for two reasons: Only 1 – 2 % of Swiss wine is exported and the production level of this grape is low anyway in the Vaud region.
Just beyond Bonvillars is the Val de Travers valley, where the infamous strong and hallucinogenic “green faerie” absinthe spirit was first distilled. As an aside, the first commercial absinth distillery was built in 1797 in the village of Couvet. That distillery was co-owned by Henri-Louis Pernod, whose name still appears on Pernod aniseed liquors. There were at least 15 distilleries when the spirit was declared illegal in 1908. Bootleggers continued until it was legalised again in March 2005, after which, they went public.
My dining buddy had never tried absinth before so we just had to have some in the traditional presentation. Ice cold water was dripped from an urn through a sugar cube and into a shot glass of absinth to form a milky white emulsion. You could choose the amount of dilution and sugar level, to taste.
A most agreeable “digestif”, methinks.
Belle Époque gets the AlphaLuxe Two-Tongues Rating for quintessential cooking competency. If you are on the scenic Route des Alpes, the restaurant and hotel make for a pleasant stop. Certainly, it’s the venue of choice for many a wedding party in the area.
Grand Hôtel des Rasses
Route des Alpes 25
Les Rasses / Ste-Croix
Telephone: +41.(0)24 454 19 61
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He is also a moderator on PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).