Dinner with the family

Stuart Forster tests an initiative that allows travellers to eat with the Swiss in their homes….

My hosts Nora and Adrian

How many times have you dined alone while travelling? For members of the travel media that experience is often part of being on the road.

Experiencing local cuisine, is, in my view, an integral part of embracing a destination. As a consequence I don’t mind sitting by myself in restaurants but much prefer dining in company.

In the Swiss town of Interlaken I had an opportunity to experience the Dinner at Home initiative, which gives visitors opportunities to eat with local families. I knew that I wouldn’t be eating fondue or raclette. The Interlaken Tourism website stipulates that hosts are not permitted to serve either of those typical Bernese dishes.

Toblerone mousse

For 30 Swiss Francs, guests registering for Dinner at Home know they’ll be served two or three courses, plus drinks, and can specify allergies and special dietary requirements. What is served is left up to the hosts. There was even an opportunity to state whether or not I wanted to be picked up by car, by the host, at my hotel. Nora, one of my hosts for the evening, duly collected me. She spoke clear, flawless English. It didn’t take long before she revealed that her husband, Adrian, was an Australian.

They served the starter — a sharing platter of local produce, including delicious air dried ham — on the balcony of their house, with views of Lake Brienz and snow-capped mountains. The main course was grilled steak, potato gratin and salad served at the family dining table. The dessert was a homemade Toblerone mousse. The dinner provided an opportunity for me to meet Nora and Adrian’s children, and for us to discuss life in Switzerland. Nora and Adrian were open, chatty and excellent hosts. There were no uncomfortable silences or awkward moments. I suppose that only outgoing people who enjoy cooking apply to hosts on Interlaken’s Dinner at Home programme.

Interlaken’s stunning backdrop

Its initiative strikes me as a really good idea. It was the basis of a memorable evening and, begs the question why (thought there are apps/websites including eatwith.com that promises similar experiences) Dinner at Home isn’t more widely available around the world?

Further information

Interlaken stands at the heart of the Jungfrau Region and is the hub for the mountain railway network providing access to the surrounding Alps.

The Switzerland Tourism website has practical information about travel and ideas about things to do and see in the country.

About the author

Stuart Forster is the travel writer and photographer behind the blog, www.go-eat-do.com. Stuart’s work has been published by the likes of the Independent, Rough Guides and National Geographic Traveller. He was named Journalist of the Year at the Holland Press Awards of 2015 and 2016, and presented with the 2017 British Annual Canada Travel Awards for Best Online Coverage.

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