Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Zeughauskeller Potato Salad


Too many people think of Zürich as a boring, gray banker's town, only good for passing through fast on the way to somewhere else. Maybe those of us who enjoy a slower and more thoughtful style of travel should be grateful for this, as it leaves the city to us, and less at the mercy of Rick Steves and those who (having read something by a single travel writer) couldn't be bothered to look for a second opinion.

The same goes for the food in Zuerich. The idea that Swiss food is boring is laughable. True, Switzerland has always been a crossroads for foods from the countries that surround it (Germany, Italy, and France). But sometimes it's taken the Swiss to perfect dishes from one or another of these, or find an aspect to them that the others have ignored. This happens to that commonplace side dish, a kartoffelsalat or potato salad, in a central Zurich restaurant called the Zeughauskeller. (If you're interested in going there, click here for a Google map or scroll down to the bottom of the full entry.)

The place used to be the town armory, back in the day. Now it mostly serves up basic Swiss food -- with French and Italian accents here and there -- to both tourists and locals. The most popular side dish to go with the various grills, roasts and sausage dishes is the Zeughauskeller's famous relatively-low-fat potato salad. They go through approximately twenty metric tons of it every year, and (if you ask nicely) they don't mind giving out the recipe.

Servings 8.

  • 1 c Beef stock
  • 1 c Chicken stock
  • 3 3/4 lb Mealy potatoes
  • 1/2 oz Fresh parsley
  • Small onion
  • 1/2 c Salad dressing

Salad dressing: About 1/2 C of a good mayonnaise, the fresher the
better -- I think the Zeughauskeller makes their own fresh, every day --
mixed to taste with German-style mustard (i.e. a sharp yellow mustard
rather than a brown one).

Every utensil must be scrupulously clean, then scalded, including pans.
~- Peel and cut up potatoes. Cook until "almost ready", then drain
(trying to retain starch). Put in pan. -- Pour BOILING stock over
potatoes to bring out the starch and bind the potatoes together. Let sit
45 minutes to absorb. -- Chop parsley and onions (to taste) by hand. Add
to potatoes, toss; let sit in hot mixture to add flavor. -- Pour salad
dressing over salad: toss.

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