Of travels in Pune and Swiss cuisineLast Sunday, three of my classmates (Nikhil, Sandy, Akshay) and me spent an interesting few hours in the morning and afternoon of a typically pleasant day, walking about, riding through the roads of Pune and visiting three places where most of us hadn't been before to. Meeting up traditionally at the COEP Boat Club, we visited the Empress Gardens, the Aga Khan Palace and rounded it off with lunch at the Swiss Cheese Gardens at A.B.C Farms.
The website informs that the interiors have a Norwegian touch to their design. Wood has been used a great deal to make it look like some European cottage. Interestingly, the benches (for they weren't regular seats) had no backrests, and gave the impression of being fashioned in a rustic manner. Eschewing the chance to have tomato soup once again, our experiment began with Swiss Fagoli soup which had blobs & layers of cheese and pasta. Not being a gourmand, I couldn't tell you the taste, but 2 of us liked it, the other 2 found it decent. The appetizers came in for controversy. Settling for the Germanic sounding Rahmquark Dip, some of us were miffed at the idea of a dip with only about 3 vegetable slices per capita to do the dipping. Estimating the actual cost of it to be < Rs. 10 led to a round of wholesome cribbing which is so integral to the eating-out experience. The dip by itself was quite good, I thought, with its mustard flavour.
So now to the main course. The Cheese Fondue seemed to be the centerpiece of the main course, so we ordered that. Essentially, it consists of several cheeses melted in some wine and spices, along with some vegetables. We found out how novel the eating method would be when a pot containing the fondue was placed on a small flame in front of us. There were large pieces of bread to accompany it. We were each presented a long wooden fork. After a few curious glances at each other, we settled on the idea that you just had to poke in a cube of bread on your fork, dip and swirl it in the pot, and simply eat it. All pretence to sophistication was lost very soon as we lost crumbs in the fondue, tried to maximise our fondue-to-bread ratio and even indulged in mock fork-fights in the pot. Not how the Swiss intended it perhaps, but it was fun, and had we one less fork, we might have been four Dining Chinese Philosophers taking part in an Operating Systems course.
I had to have the Rosti once I saw the different kinds on the menu. Essentially because I didn't know if I'd get a chance again. The Simple Rosti turned out to be a flat brown mix of potatoes, onions and cheese ("pan-fried potatoes and onions baked with cheese"). It reminded me of the uthappa in size and filling, sans the flour. Not too bad.
Sandy recommended the exotically named Tiramisu as the first choice dessert. I'm glad we listened; it turned out to be a form of cheesecake served in a glass with a thick crust of chocolate powder on top. It literally melted in your mouth. Quite good. We even (amidst a spot of what can only be termed as "giggling" at the prospect of seeming to be unlikely hogs by the waiter) went in for a second piece of dessert, this time the Lemon Cheesecake which was not as good as the tiramisu, we thought. It was not that bad either, with an astringent taste from the lemon and a chocolate/cocoa base.
Despite what seemed to us as the worst form of excesses, we came away with a bill of Rs. 250/- per wallet. We were able to sample the main offering of the cuisine, though the portions did seem to be a little less compared to the prices. It was definitely worth an experiment and the food was not too heavy on the tummy. I'm no food critic so you'll have to take my word with a pinch of salt (with cheese of course).