Cheeky and I pulled up outside the Giardino Mountain hotel in St. Moritz where we were to have our dining experience that evening. We entered the 5 star hotel to made our way down stairs where we were shown into a small underground room where Ecco St. Moritz is based from around mid December through to mid March each year. Ecco St. Mortiz is a two Michelin star restaurant which is the culinary brain child of Rolf Fliegauf whose main restaurant Ecco Acona, also with two Michelin stars is based at the Giardino Ascona in Switzerland. Despite being underground the room had an amazing quality, it felt like we were in some kind of ancient pagan temple built in a caven. The walls were textures with three dimensional images of gods, creatures and beasts of the underworld with sprawling foliage all around them; some were painted with gold and had jewels for eyes. These motifs were underlit enhancing and bringing the characters to life thus giving the room a beautiful soft light, creating a magical atmosphere.
We were welcomed with a simply presented coin of Lobster creme, rice crisps and shrimp, delicate and clean served on a round, shiny black slab, a great way to start the proceedings. We were then on to the three appetisers of crisp savoy cabbage, Scallop and Jerusalem artichoke. All three were stunning in their presentation whether in a seashell, on a pebble or sitting on a bed of moss. The Scallop was delicate and fell apart to the touch, in flavour it was delicate with a hint of curry, the cabbage was crisp with a barbecue flavoured red pepper sauce whilst the artichoke was served with Iberian ham and tasted like crackling, the best crackling I have ever had. Following on was a Amuse in the shape of sea bass tartar with carrot puree and yuzu which was crisp and fresh; the fish had a fine texture, the carrot was a lovely sweet addition and with the citrusy yuzu the subtle mixture of flavours was perfect. What a great start to a meal, such a combination of gorgeous flavours and textures.
Cheeky was very happy when the next dish appeared. Marinated duck liver with beetroot and yoghurt. This almost tasted like a dessert due to the sweet flavours had it not been for the combination of savoury as well. The duck liver on the base was like a terrine which was extremely soft and smooth, on top sat a duck liver that had been turned into ice cream whilst the yoghurt had somehow been ‘mergingued’, yes I have just invented a word, into a crunchy type of snow. The beetroot had been magically turned into berries. After this fine course we were served a organic celeriac cooked in salt dough with Perigord truffle and herbs paired with a glass of Swiss Fläscher Completer. The celeriac was soft and subtle, whilst the truffle was phenomenal, fresh and not too strong in flavour; the sauce was meaty and earthy all culminating in a dish whose rounded flavours complimented each other.
Next up was was Atlantic Sole with Parsley root and lemon hollandaise with a glass of 2014 fresh and fruity chablis from William Fevre. The Hollandaise had been whipped with air, it had a refreshing lemony flavour, almost like the lemon from a lemon meringue pie. The piece of sole was beautiful in itself with quite an exquisite flavour, a stunning course indeed. When we thought the food could not get any better, then my favourite of the night appeared, Canadian Bison fillet with broccoli and bone marrow. The Bison was tender like the texture of Foie Gras ‘Meat butter’ with a fantastic barbecue flavour. The sauce was oxtail bone marrow and had such a fantastic condensed flavour whilst the broccoli was presented in several shapes such as creamed, roasted and tender stem. This course was Paleo heaven for me, with such stunning meat, marrow and vegetables. This was all washed down with a delightful glass of red No 1 Numero Uno from italy.
With our main courses done it was time to cleanse the palate with a Rhubarb, mascarpone and sorrel combined with a glass of German white Trittenheimer Apotheke. This course had natural flavours that reminded me of a English garden in summer. The Sorrel ice cream tasted like refreshing apple peel and the rhubarb was tangingly sour, with the wine our palates were clean, fresh and ready to move to the dessert. The dessert was a visual showstopper inspired by Hublot watches! It arrived in a wooden black box with a glass porthole on the top. Inside was a little pot with various cogs and mechanical parts of a watch made from chocolate and chewy orange jelly, inspirational and fun. Just as I thought that was it for dessert, to my delight we had three more small dishes arrive. In one was banana with muscovado sugar and lemon, another was black currant, quinoa and meringue and the other was sheep’s yoghurt, apple and dill. All delightfully inventive little dishes, with fresh flavours and a mixture of textures from light and creamy to crunchy with bite.
Ecco St. Moritz was quite an experience. I am not sure what is going on here but Rolf has sourced some kind of ancient pagan magic to create the delightful dishes that appear on one’s table. The natural and seasonal ingredients come together to make flavours and textures that sing and come alive on the tongue. Whatever ancient alpine pagan deity he is league with, long may their relationship continue and these stunning dishes continue to roll out of the Ecco kitchens.
Via Maistra Champfèr 3,