Say cheese!

I have always been a fan of cheese. I like cheese in my pasta, I like cheese in my lasagna, I like cheese in my rice and I like cheese on my cake.

However, for reasons unbeknownst to me, I am slightly lactose intolerant. While I like cheese in food, I can never have dairy products on its own. I can have milk with cereal but drink a glass of milk I would purge after two sips. I have to have cheddar cheese in my sandwich but do not count on me nibbling on one by itself.

So, I was skeptic as to what will happen to me at the end of the meal, as I browsed through the signature menu at Chalet. A part of me was quite estatic to have cheese served in half of the course – it could have easily been any girl’s dream to chow on cheese like it were rice, but another part of me shudder at my unexplanable intolerance. Throwing up in a fancy fine dining Swiss restaurant in front of my clients would be of utmost embarrassment.

First up was a full blown cheese charade. The Raclet Valaisanne, a traditional Swiss melted cheese served with baby potatoes and cornichon pickles. The smell was empowering like fuck. It was like meeting the cow during the slaughter before you eat its meat. According to the Chef, they would get a roll of pure cheese, heat the surface and when it is boiling, slice it off the surface onto the plate.

Awful smell aside, the moment the cheese touched my tongue, it watered. It was everything I would want to taste when I put into my mouth a big chunk of baked and melted cheese. Like those layers of baked cheese on my rice, but only more enriched and better.

It was quite heavenly until that bile feeling at the back of my tongue started coming up, and I had to neutralise my palette with the pickles and potatoes, which did not help much considering potatoes were quite heavy and pickles were, well, pickles.

All things considered, it had a good run with me, though only for a short while.

Also, diners should eat it while it is still hot, as you know when it cools it hardens and the stringy and creamy cheese texture would have disappeared.

Next up was the Fondue Suisse au Fromage, or commonly known as cheese fondue. It is a famous Swiss dish of dipping bread cubes in melted Emmental cheese enhanced with Kirsch – a clear and colourless fruit brandy from Germany known as Kirchwasser – and wine.

In Switzerland, where the land is often cooling, cheese plays a very big part in their lives to keep their bodies warm. So, a fondue is a kind of social food for family and friends, in which they can have a good laugh and talk over a boiling bowl of cheese to dip their bread cubes in.

After the Raclette Valaisanne, I had a problem stomaching more cheese from the fondue, so after a few cubes, I have already set aside by fork waiting for the next dish. But it was definitely a fun dish to share with friends and family; we had quite a laugh as the Chef told us his travelling and gourmet stories before working in Chalet, and we also shared a few travelling stories of our own too.

The Emincée de Veau à la Zurichoise is a thinly sliced veal and mushrooms in cream sauce with roesti potatoes. The roesti is another famous food amongst the Swiss folks, what with the potatoes bringing on the body wamrth via the carbs.

I had my first roesti when I was at a food review in Amuleto, and the roesti in Chalet was very much different from theirs. Chalet’s were softer in texture, while Amuleto’s went for the crispy type – like sliced hash browns panfried together. Chalet’s broke off easy as you mix them with the creamy mushroom and veal sauce. Not that it is a bad thing, mind you. I guess each restaurant has its own way in preparing a meal, and till now, I quite like both in its own ways.

For dessert, we had the Crepe suzette, with paper thin pancakes cooked in orange sauce and flamé with brandy.

The restaurant manager, Azlan, put on a live show for us as he prepared our meal. First, he rubbed the heated pan with an orange for the flavouring and sugar absorption, as well as so the crepes do not stick to the pan. After putting in the crepe slices, he would drown them in brandy wine and liquid marmalade.

Till then, I had not have good experiences with crepes. The first time I had them was when I was in Australia. There was a stall in the city food court serving crepes and I decided to try it out. It was stuffed with fish meat fillings and though it looked delicious like that, I almost threw up halfway through. Since then, crepes had a bad name for me.

But the crepes here regained my love. You could smell waves of brandy as you cut open the steamy pancakes. It tasted sweet yet sourish at the same time. There was even the citrussy and orange tang that is welcoming to the senses.  Whilst the cheese and roesti slowly closed up my appetite throughout the meal, the crepes opened it up for more before closing it on a better note.

I liked the atmosphere in Chalet. They have the interior designed like a cottage and at some point, I did feel like I was at the Alps. It has a cosy feeling going on, the people were as friendly as the meal served, and with the food that they put in your tummy, you would feel really nice from the inside to the outisde.

The dishes featured that day were signature ones at the restaurant as well as the country itself. But I did wanted to try out more of their main courses to really get what Chalet has in store for the diners. Alas.

All things considered, Chalet is one of the longest running fine dining restaurants in the city – 36 years, thank you very much – and they have definitely brought to the plate what diners would expect in a Swiss cuisine.

++
The Chalet Swiss Restaurant
Hotel Equatorial Kuala Lumpur
Jalan Sultan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
Opens Monday to Friday @ 12.30PM-2.30PM; daily @ 6.30PM-10.30PM
T: +6 03 2161 7777
E: info@kul.equatorial.com
W: http://www.equatorial.com

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