Preparing food sightseeing
Know your – local -blogger. This is what helped me. With just a few hours time a got some great impressions of what kind of food or produce is characterizing Zürich in Switzerland.
In my case it was Nicole Hasler the “zumfressngern” blogger. Her blog covers a lot of topics around meat, especially from a nose to tail perspective and on modern cuisine with a soul. Anybody a more perfect guide in mind?
And for a guy who is too lazy to prepare food sightseeing, it was really a blessing to know her and get some insights. Without this local knowledge, I believe I would have missed far more than half of what I was able to see and taste.
First impressions of Zürich
Zürich is a rich city. I am not used to that. Walking through the city center, I was impressed by the magnitude of luxury shops, not necessarily the usual luxury brands, rather something distinct and unique. All a bit beyond my budget but great to look at.
Zürich is a clean city. I am not sure how they make it. Are the people just behaving better than the ones in other localities? Or are there little elves which make everything non orderly disappear? Anyway, it left an impression on me.
Somehow all of this was a bit intimidating for an outsider but it gave a great sense of safety. I had no worries to walk after a few drinks at night being afraid of slipping and breaking a leg due to a banana skin on the walkway.
Starting food sightseeing
Before heading towards the real thing from the perspective of this blog, I was told to visit two food sections in department stores in downtown. Not my usual way of discovering the food “personality” of a city or village.
I have to say I was overwhelmed. The cheese section in the “Coop City St. Annahof” was pure paradise. The cheeses were in a separate room, a humidor, ensuring relatively high humidity so that the cheeses did not have to be wrapped every time. The variety of Swiss mountain cheeses was unbelievable. And the lady behind the counter incredibly helpful and humorous. She shrink-wrapped my cheese selection for home so that nobody would become jealous of my Swiss goodness while traveling. For my personal “streetfood” experience she cut some cheese cubes. They were gone fast. I thanked her by making the heart sign with my hands, she instantly asked if I was married and as I affirmed it, she mumbled “always the wrong guys are married” Well, I like those conversations which end in compliments (deserved or undeserved) …
The next stop was the food section, more precise the meat section of the Globus department store. The number of different cured hams and the meats from the best places on this planet was incredible, the same for the terrines. They did not have Swiss Magalica ham, but the alternatives were excellent as well and added to my streetfood treasures.
With these two discoveries my colleague and I had a small feast before heading for lunch in the market hall “Im Viadukt” my true destination.
Heading towards the market hall
The good thing about focusing on food and produce in a new location is that the weather seems not so important. And in November I do not expect anything else than: grey. As long it does not rain, strolling through the city is fine.
While walking for almost half an hour towards the market hall I was trying to think what I could expect. I was told to go there by my local blogger, and I knew that it would not be a mistake. This way I was at least prepared to see quality destinations, still I am always angry about myself of not doing more. There are always these questions which need some guidance beforehand: what is the characteristic food and cuisine of the region, what kind of produce are popular, in season etc. How are the markets, more producer or more trader centric? What kind of treasures should I look for. Yes, discovery is nice, but preparation is better. Next time, maybe … When I get smarter.
Market hall “Im Viadukt”
A “Viadukt” is an overpass, and in this specific case one for the railway dating from the 1890s . Underneath embedded is the market hall which opened in 2010. For more details see the history section of the homepage.
The whole market hall is modern. At first sight I got a bit worried, it immediately felt like a place that had been transformed into a concept piece of real estate, not leaving enough room for creative shop owners. The booths were predefined in some aspects like the patterns of the fronts close to the ceiling. I had the same mixed feelings when I was at the Fresh Market in Bratislava, where the booth pattern put restrictions on design opportunities and lacked personality. But after a while I saw that the individual characters of the shops with certainly good to excellent products.
Well crafted traditional products like cheese, meat, sausages and pasta were next to “cool” lemonades, craft beers and chocolates. And not to forget the “street food” offers, like pies, Asian inspired and European dishes. A few produce, potatoes being my favorite, and flowers completed the offering I saw. So how would I characterize the offering? It is not hipster despite some elements indicating it. It is not traditional despite some products coming from small producers. It is also not trendy, even when seeing the craft beer and hipster lemonades. So I guess it is for people who appreciate the value of products were classic craftsmanship cannot be replaced to create food perfection and who are at the same time open for new, “modern” food and taste discoveries.
My personal highlights
I am cheese fan and I like great sausages. I found both in the market hall. Absolute delights. The sheep cheese “Hölziges Schaf” was not a typical great Swiss mountain cheese and did not remind me of other sheep milk based cheeses. It was for more interesting in its aromas especially with its complex “acidity”. A class on its own. And thankfully it survived more than day without fridge to be savored at home .
For the “Schwein/Rind Salsiz” a porc and beef sausage which is dried and pressed, I was less worried about lack of cooling. The producer is Tanya Giovanoli who got back to the old butcher crafts to create again natural perfect meat products. Just by seeing all these sausages hanging on strings in a special fridge made me so happy. All these colors and shapes showed that they could not be produced in a factory. And the taste indicated it too.
I could not buy from every booth, still there were a few more things which impressed me. The pasta guy who produced on site. The butcher who had such nice cuts and dry aged porc hanging to beautifully. And the the pie stall which provided our wild boar pie. It is produced by 8 ladies nearby. We shared the pie for lunch, a whole one would have been to much. Remember: we munched our ways through cheese and ham towards the market hall.
Even though the market hall is not huge there were more things to discover than to be expected at the beginning. So take more time than I had the chance to have, you will not regret it. And hunger and thirst will find relief in the restaurant.
Zürich from a food perspective
For me it is clear: Zürich stands for high quality food, especially cheese, meat and sausages. By my own definition it is a great city. With a little more money in the pocket a gourmet life in Zürich could be close to heaven.
All in all: In the market hall “Im Viadukt” in Zürich you will find great products, a lot from small Swiss producers and some nice places to eat. Worth a detour.
A little link list:
- The official website of the Markthalle im Viadukt in English
- The website of “my” local blogger
- The sausage producer Tanya Giovanoli
- The “Berg & Tal” booth were I bought the sausage
- The “Tritt Käse” booth where I bought the great cheese
- A post from lovefoodish including a short video on the market hall