The Dolder Grand in Zurich was built in 1897 on top of the wooded Adlisberg Mountain in order to provide a place of regeneration. Basel architect Jacques Gros threw open its doors in 1899 and could not have picked a better location. The view from this hotel takes your breath away as the city cascades onto a shimmering Lake Zurich with the magnificence of The Alps in the distance. The sublime advantage of this open passage of light makes way for the greater sense of space, it is simply spectacular. London architect Norman Foster restored it in 2001 and his juxtaposition of the modern against longstanding, solid, characterful architecture roots the context of the surrounding countryside amongst a city six minutes away by car.
The Dolder Grand is deservedly on the list as one of the leading hotels of the world and of course the rooms reflect this as does its understated impeccable service. The Spa is second to none. The spacious landscape of a combined indoor-outdoor 4000sq. metre area undisputedly accounts for the multiple awards given for relaxation and rejuvenation. It’s an incredibly well thought out space with one of the most beautiful, luxurious and quiet environments that is conducive to personal renewal. In collaboration with Galerie Gmurzynska the hotel displays over 100 pieces of dazzling artwork dating from the mid-18th century to the present day. The fine dining restaurant headed by renowned German chef Heiko Neider has been awarded two Michelin stars and 18 GaultMillau points. Heiko and his team are responsible in bringing together this outstanding and cleverly thought out gourmet weekend event.
My four – day festival started on the Friday evening with drinks on the terrace with Massimo Bottura, chef patron of Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy. He would be cooking dinner in the dining room that evening alongside Heiko Nieder. A variety of maxims poured forth with huge enthusiasm and open arms from one of the world’s top five chef’s: ‘water is truth, the kitchen is love… Who cares about imperfection-leave space for poetry and yourself…build perfection with imperfection’. Finding the words to convey my dining experience that evening with these gifted gourmands is extremely difficult. The menu left me speechless. As I have limited words, if I may, I will leave it at these few adjectives: wondrous, exquisite and delectable; eight courses and a cellar of over 1200 bottles of vintage wine provided for an opulent culinary experience.
On Saturday morning I strolled along Zurich’s narrow 13th century streets of artisan guild houses and cosy patisserie shops too difficult to walk away from. The city’s fresh air and clear water in the River Lammet and the lake are unexpected and admirable as are the 1,200 fountains available to drink from. The very helpful Zurich Tourist Board recommended
I continue with my gourmet quest and feast my eyes alongside the bequeathed works of art at the legendary Restaurant Kronenhalle on Ramistrasse 4. It is here we are thankful that some things never change. The dining room serves a combination of traditional French and Swiss cuisine at its very best and like the Dolder Grand, its history and previous clientele are fascinating. It’s one of those places where lunch could easily segue into dinner. Amongst an array of different events happening in the Epicure’s Masterclass agenda, I chose an important wine tasting so it was back through the forest to the hotel on the charming Dolderbahn cable car.
in the library that wouldn’t have gone amiss in any gentleman’s club in London
wine expert Martin Schwarz took us on an insightful and intimate journey where
eleven wines enticed our taste buds and curiosity.
A superb and discerning few hours was had where I finally understood the importance to speak of the character of the vintage (thank you Martin). A particular 2009 Rhone from Domaine Jean-Louie Chave caught my eye
as did a 1994 Monte Bello from Paul Drapers Ridge Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
I had dinner in a traditional tavern called Adlisberg that’s a short walk through the forest from the hotel. The regional and locally sourced dishes were delicious and the Swiss wines couldn’t have been any better. I’m told Britain doesn’t see Swiss wines because of the small yield of grapes; it’s highly probable they’re keeping their bottles at home.
The Epicure Masterpiece culminates on the Sunday with a finale full of anticipation and excitement. The international chefs demonstrate their craft at their stations with accompanying wines to complement each dish but not before we enjoy a glass or two of Krug by way of introduction to them all first. The room is electric as these artists and their teams perfect their creations with precise adoration. Here is your chance to take a few tips back to your kitchen and it’s a lot of fun choosing who you’re going to try next or go back to.
The secrets of these culinary genius’s are best left with them besides I would rather come back. Chocolatier Calogero Giunta does need to be mentioned here. His Macadamia nut and popping candy creation is why he is a true artisan of chocolate. I enjoyed a light supper that evening where an uncomplicated sophisticated menu with exceptional produce and yet another outstanding wine list was had in the hotel’s Garden Restaurant.
This inauguration of such a fine event and within easy access to the rest of Europe, Swiss Air offers up to 19 daily flights from the UK, this event will remain one of the highlights of autumn. I’m already planning a visit when the snow falls; the Dolder Grand is far too beautiful a setting not to. It’s also impossible to find elsewhere the variety of the very best in fine dining alongside an exquisite location in such an intriguing city. I did warn you to book early.