Zürich meets London: Dada Inspired Gala Dinner

It’s a 100 years since Dadaism started at Cabaret Voltaire in the progressive Swiss City of Zürich and part of the anniversary celebrations were recently held in London. Peter Morrell reports.

The month of May saw a unique event – Zürich meets London: A Festival of Two Cities. It was a multi-venue, London-wide festival which ran from 17-21 May 2016 to exhibit the culture, cuisine and science of Switzerland’s largest city. One of the highlights of the celebrations was a Dada inspired gala dinner that amply demonstration Zürich’s culinary cutting edge. The dinner was held in the spectacularly designed Borough Market Hall and the food was created by Fabian Spiquel, Head Chef of the Michelin starred Maison Manesse restaurant.

Before dinner there was the opportunity to sample food from the stalls of artisan producers including including the world-renowned Züri-honey, the sausage of the city, Stadtjäger, chocolate from Taucherli Chocolatier and the rock hard yet honey-sweet biscuits, Tirggel. We were also treated to a pre-prandial G&T made with Turicum Gin which features an exotic blend of botanicals, and Gents Swiss Roots tonic. (Turicum was the Roman name for Zürich)

The 5-course menu took its inspiration from Dada in celebration of the 100th year anniversary of Zürich’s seminal home-grown art movement and used the freshest produce on hand at Borough Market and five fine wines from Switzerland.

Accompanying the feast was an unforgettable Dada spectacular devised by a quartet of Zürich Chamber Orchestra and the Zürich Festspiele with performances of the renowned Tonhalle Orchestra as well as the Schauspielhaus Zürich.

Sipping through a ceramic straw we started the meal with an Amuse Bouche of five different liquids representing the five tastes – bitter, sweet, salty, sour and umami. This acted as an intro to the use of the five tastes during the meal.

The first course was a fillet of freshwater pike with green tomatoes, and the orangey flavour of Bergamot, it was light and delicate. The matched wine was Amphore by Markus Ruch made with the Müller-Thurgau grape. It was fresh with a tangy green apple flavour which paired well with the fish.

The second course was a mix of pork and tuna with seaweed and truffle. This dish had a lot of complexity and was complemented by Completer from Donatsch Weinbau, this wine had a lively acidity which paired well with contracting flavours of the ingredients. We also sampled Tom Litwan’s Wanne made with chardonnay grapes. It was fruity and light with its own complex layers on the palate.

Next up was an eclectic mix of morel mushrooms, kombu seaweed and wild strawberries. It was this dish which really showed the skill and imagination of Chef Fabian. It was a clever mix of tastes, flavours and textures. The wine pairing was interesting, the Perpetuum Nobile, a pinot noir from Weinkellerei Hasler. It had good red fruit and peppery notes in the bouquet and showed well structured, smooth tannins in the mouth.

The fourth course was a hearty piece of beef, braised in a sauce and served with corn and onions. This dish had a very profound quality and needed a wine match that was quite robust. The pairing was the only blend of the evening, the Cuvée Wengi, a merlot/malbec combo from Domain de Soleure. This showed strong plum and cherry notes on the nose with hints of chocolate, herbs and spices on the palate and it left a persistent finish.

Our grand finale was a dessert of rhubarb, birchermüesli and tarragon, again an interesting mix of flavours and textures.

This really had been a magnificent showcase of Zürich and what it has to offer. It’s attraction to the people involved in the inception of Dadaism had been its liberal, creative and progressive atmosphere. This spirit is still very much alive in the city and we caught a glimpse of it over dinner. From the surrealistic toys on the table that buzzed and vibrated to the avant garde entertainment and the sheer inventiveness of the food.

For more information about Zürich meets London go to www.zurichmeetslondon.org

Information about visiting Zürich can be found at www.zuerich.com/en