Terroir! A magic word for wine connoisseurs the world over. It’s interesting how soil conditions and location come up so naturally when discussing a wine’s flavour and characteristics, yet you just don’t hear these kinds of conversations about carrots. Even though the very same factors have a huge bearing on the root vegetable’s flavour too.
Nicole Tanner, Operations Manager at my favourite local organic farm Birsmattehof, tells me that the condition of the soil can even vary within the same piece of land. And that means the flavour of the carrots grown there can vary too. Carrots can taste different from year to year as well. Their flavour profile is also influenced by the way they’re stored – that’s the same for wine and other types of food.
For example, you wouldn’t want to be storing your carrots next to your apples, pears or tomatoes unless you want them to turn bitter fast. When it comes to meat, we talk about the origin, breed, rearing, diet, slaughter and ageing. So why don’t we go into as much detail for vegetables? We distinguish between Nebbiolo, Malbec and Pinot Noir on a wine menu.
“Crunch! Crunchy crudités with carrot mousse from ‘All’orto’, AT Verlag”
And we concern ourselves with fat levels and diet when it comes to Wagyu, Hereford and Angus beef. But do we know the difference between Küttiger Rüebli, Gniff and Jaune de Doubs? Did you know that on-trend carrots marketed as heirloom varieties are actually the result of clever cross breeding by the seed industry?
It’s really exciting to see all the current experimentation with vegetables by top chefs, as the trend shifts away from interchangeable luxury produce to simpler ingredients. Carrots and other vegetables are being stored in controlled conditions, fermented and even combined with koji. It’s time to give vegetables the attention they deserve by distinguishing between varieties, considering how they are grown and trying out different combinations. Let’s treat them the same as other foods with a higher profile and discover the huge and exciting variety of flavours that awaits.
Words & Photo Claudio Del Principe
In an age of transformation in which we are all striving for efficiency and sustainability and looking for new paths, the restaurant industry is no exception. Even in the fine dining scene, concepts are being reconsidered and structures adapted in order to move with the times. One remarkable discovery in this regard is blooms, the new garden restaurant at the Dolder Grand Hotel in Zurich.Discover more
‘Serrated knives tear the meat,’ says Michael Bach, founder of the Swiss knife manufacturer Sknife. ‘Only a really sharp blade will glide effortlessly through the juicy meat without wounding it.’ And that is precisely what counts when it comes to getting full enjoyment out of meat.Discover more
Radicchio has only been grown here since the 1980s. One particular kind has enjoyed a very special career over the last ten years: Radicchio di Castelfranco from Veneto, with its yellow leaves, pretty red speckles and significantly finer leaf structure with fewer bitter compounds.Discover more