A trip to the Swiss mountains usually guarantees good, hearty, winter fare. After a day of heavy duty winter sports, the body is likely to crave something substantial, something loaded with calories. On a recent weekend away in the picturesque Swiss village of Kandersteg, my husband and I found it difficult to hold back when it came to mealtimes, despite the fact that neither of us had engaged in any strenuous outdoor activity which would have explained our hearty appetites. But as my husband likes to put it, some dishes taste best when served in the appropriate surrounding environment; a fondue somehow tastes better when served in the mountains in an old wooden hut where everyone is rugged up in their winter woollies.
Due to hubby’s request to eat more vegetarian meals this year, I saw no reason to not buy the latest book from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of the River Cottage fame, Veg Everyday. The book is dedicated to eating vegetarian meals, though it is not written by a vegetarian – an important distinction in my mind because it means there are no spooky and holistic ingredients which would otherwise make vegetarian cooking too much of an effort for a carnivore like me.
One recipe which instantly called out to me was the Chilli, Cheese and Rosemary Polenta with Tomato Sauce. There was something very nursery about this recipe. Plus I had some polenta in the pantry which had just passed its expiry date …
My first introduction to polenta was at the canteen at work. And before you recoil in shock, I should mention that Swiss canteens happen to be quite highly regarded in the culinary world. In fact, the canteens at several companies here even compete with one another in the same way that high-end restaurants do. One of my colleagues regularly uses the quality of the canteen meals as the bar for comparisons when he is dining out at restaurants. The canteen at our rival company has even published a cookbook – on fine dining. Pretty top notch.