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Gavin ClutterbuckKnowitall.ch has teamed up with local chef, Gavin Clutterbuck, to provide you with some interesting insights and useful tips for cooking in this region.

Having started his working career as a pot washer and vegetable chopper in a Tex-Mex style restaurant in Scotland, Gavin spent the next twelve years working his way up to head chef in kitchens and galleys around the world.  Some of these were large, most were small, and many were very hot and cramped – all great experience for a master chef!    Gavin’s experience also extends to working on yachts and in private ski chalets, catering to a select and often demanding clientele.  

Currently taking a sabbatical from his cooking business, ‘Chex’, Gavin is now making plans with his wife to develop the next stage of his business.  Together, they are transforming an old sawmill on their land into a seminar and teaching center where they will be able to offer a broader range of facilities and services than was possible at the previous ‘Chex’ location in Geneva.  

Plans are afoot to expand their current vegetable garden so that a large proportion of their produce will be home grown.  The majority of their other produce will also be sourced locally. The venue will be licensed for a maximum of 50 people, and will offer a wide range of new courses, including traditional local cuisine.

In addition to catering for strategy sessions, company off-sites and training courses, the center aims to provide team building courses where participants cook dinner together at the end of the day. Other ideas being considered are music courses, spa retreats, children’s cooking and gardening courses, and guided bike tours. If all goes according to plan, Chex should reopen for business mid 2012 - watch this space!

The following article is the first in what is hoped to be a series of articles that will be provided by Gavin in this section of the website. Please contact Gavin by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any food questions or suggestions for future topics.

cartier2009festivalBy This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

There are great advantages to living in the French countryside. However one of the things we miss most about living in Switzerland is our fabulous neighbours.

How can you not get excited about a group of people welcoming you with a huge vase of handmade chocolates and a delicious cake and champagne to boot?

When we met our neighbours, the Cartier’s, the first product that came to mind was jewellery… but there is another Cartier family that has just as long a history and also produces fabulously rich sumptuous products. These Cartier products, however, you can eat!

Their business was started by André Cartier in 1858, selling pastries and chocolate from his shop in Versoix. The business is still run from that very shop 126 years later!  Mark Cartier is now the owner and master chocolatier that carries on the 6 generation tradition.

The business has grown over the years to include a shop in Geneva named O'Saveur. At the heart of the business is the Cartier's Chocolate Laboratory, which Mark designed himself - an appropriate description as in my opinion making great chocolate is a science as well as an art!

I was lucky enough to visit the Laboratory recently. Mark's design of a labyrinthine series of interconnected fridges and cold rooms ensures that at every stage of production the chocolate is kept at the perfect temperature.

Out of this state of the art lab comes many award winning delectable treats, their Chocolate Passion Cake and his amazing truffles, as well as over 200 made to order cakes per week! Mark has personally trained all his staff, who have won awards in many of Switzerland's chocolate competitions.

The Cartier's will have a stand at this weekend’s chocolate festival in Versoix. Our family will be first in line to decorate our own chocolate bunnies at their stand this Saturday … as we no longer have such a direct access to our favourite chocolate ... but it will be well worth the trip back to our old stomping grounds and a great family day out.

Click here for more details on the Versoix chocolate festival

Cartier
Confectionery, chocolates, bakery
38, rte de Suisse
1290 Versoix
022 755 10 05
www.cartier-swiss.ch

garlicBy This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Our family relocated from Geneva to an old water powered flour & sawmill behind the Saleve just over one year ago. Set in one of the valleys that run off the mountain, it feels like you are deep in rural France.

A few weekends ago we realized just HOW deep in rural France we now live!

One bright, cold, crisp Sunday afternoon, my wife and I were indoors, catching up on the weekly chores. I was down in the kitchen cooking off some dishes for the coming week to go into the freezer; my wife and two daughters were on the top floor making their fashion selections for the week ahead.

We are used to hearing a few rifle shots on a Sunday in the winter, but they are usually much further down our valley than the first three we heard that afternoon. When my wife shouted down “Gavin! Look out of the window! There’s a huge boar by our fence!”, I rushed to the window but the boar had gone.  Shortly afterwards, there were four more loud shots that sounded very close to the house.

After what we considered to be a safe period in which we had heard no more shots, my wife and I went outside to see what was going on. To our surprise there was a group of hunters no more than three meters from our boundary fence dragging a boar up the bank of the river to the rest of the hunting party that was waiting on the road.

At this point my wife’s protective gene kicked in. The hunters were left in NO doubt that this was not acceptable behavior. When our neighbors confirmed that hunting was not allowed that close to the house, she headed off the next day to the Marie’s office to mention the incident.

The following events leave me in no doubt that the local community here cares deeply about all its residents.

Following a visit from the Mayor himself, we had a visit from the president of the local hunting association in which we walked the grounds.  Two hours after he left we received a phone call saying the culprits had been identified (the bush telegraph obviously is in full working order here!). Shortly afterwards, a delegation from the hunting party arrived. I explained the situation once more and we walked the grounds again and discussed what to do next. The hunters offered to bring around a portion of the boar by way of an apology. I was unsure at this point if this was appropriate - would I be receiving illegal meat? I said that we would call them later once we had had time to refect on their offer.

After lengthy discussions, we decided to accept the hunters’ offer of a portion of the carcass. I had prepared two marinades for the meat. I was expecting maybe one or two kilos of diced meat. In fact I was presented with a hind leg butchered high with a portion of the back quarter (as is the style here in France), in addition to a foreleg joint still on the bone! After the hunters had left I spent the rest of the evening dicing the hind leg before putting it in one of the marinades to sit in the fridge overnight.

By lunchtime the next day the house was full of a deep, rich aroma from the slow cooking stew that had been prepared from the marinated meat. There was a knock at the door… it was the local, rural Police from the ‘Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage’. Again, I explained the situation, we walked over the ground and discussed what to do next. As we sat at the kitchen table, it occurred to me that we were cooking the evidence! Was it illegal to except the meat after all? Should I invite the police to stay for lunch and have them eat the evidence!  Luckily nothing was said, and after a nice coffee and chat they left.

It appears that the situation has now been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction!

Below you will find the marinade & recipe for boar stew that I cooked. You won’t find boar at the supermarket but ask a local butcher for it when it is in season. The recipe also works well with pork if you can’t get boar.

potatoesSpanish Style Boar Stew

Prep. Time: 24hrs    
Cooking Time: 4-5hrs
Yield: 8 persons

Serve With: Roasted whole New Potatoes, Green Salad

Marinade:
1.5-2kg Boar meat (large dice 5cm)
2 Bay Leaves
3 lg Rosemary Cuttings
2 Celery Sticks (rough dice)
300ml Red Wine (eg: Riojca)
8 Cloves
2 Onions (sliced)
6 Garlic Cloves (crushed)
1tbsp Black Peppercorns
2tbsp Juniper Berries (crushed)

Stew:
Olive Oil
1tbsp Tomato Puree
250g Chorizo (rough dice)
100ml Noilly Prat
500ml Beef Stock
Corn Flour (to thicken)
300g Mushrooms (quartered)
Parsley (garnish)

Method:
1. Marinade meat 24hrs mix well
2. Drain off & reserve wine, separate meat from rest of
Marinade
3. Brown off all the meat in a little Olive Oil, set aside
4. Fry off Chorizo & marinade veg until golden, add meat
back to pan,
5. Add reserved wine, Noilly Prat, beef stock & tomato puree
Mix all ingredients & bring to the boil,
6. Reduce heat cover with tight lid, cook for 4-5hrs,
7. 20mins before service add mushrooms.