The specialitiesMany of today’s residents of the Valais had ancestors who lived off the land in the remote mountain valleys, cultivating their own produce to feed their families. They tended apricot, pear, apple and peach orchards, and baked their own rye bread. They grew vegetables on their land. Milk, cheese and occasionally meat were the staple foodstuffs with which they created frugal meals, using a great deal of care and imagination. Today you will still find these traditional products and preparations, but new ones have also emerged, such as the spring crop of exquisite asparagus grown in the sandy soils of the Lower Valais, and brought to the table within hours of being harvested.
Food lovers’ heavenFor their recipes, the people of the Valais have tradition to thank, created by the imagination of their ancestors. Today these creations are still widely served: croûte aux champignons, a dish of mushrooms and toasted bread; Valais vegetable soup with leek, celery, turnips and onions; traditional bean soup; rice cooked with locally grown saffron from Mund; traditional polenta dishes; Gsottus, a variety of air-dried meats cooked with cabbage and potatoes; buttered chestnut brisolée, served with mountain cheese, dried and cured meats; or gâteau de Savièse, a leek, cheese, potato, and bacon tart.
The people of the Valais may be passionate about their traditional cuisine, but as descendants and spiritual heirs of the Valais hotel pioneer César Ritz, they are also open to influences from all over the world, and their own cooking shows exceptional imagination and creativity. For the last two years, chefs from the Valais have been named GaultMillau Swiss Chef of the Year: Didier de Courten in 2006, and Markus Neff in 2007.
To accompany this inventive and traditional cuisine, the Valais produces a variety of top-class wines. In addition to the wellestablished classics – whites Fendant (light, fruity, dry) and Johannisberg (ample, flowery and smooth); and reds Dôle (ample, full-bodied and well-balanced) and the powerful Pinot noir, there are exquisite grape varieties that only grow in the Valais, such as the Petite Arvine, Amigne and Humagne blanche.
In the Valais and its cuisine gastronomic skill is equal in importance to the atmosphere at the table: a warm welcome and a cosy, convivial ambiance. For it is at mealtimes that you can best experience the traditions of the Valais and its people’s joie de vivre. The Valais looks forward to welcoming you!