Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Helvetia Edition: The Hutte
Helvetia is a small Swiss village up on a mountain in West Virginia - population 59 in 2010. It's an isolated community settled by the Swiss in 1869 and is known for maintaining the traditions, food and culture of Switzerland.
One popular tradition is Fasnacht, which is a festival on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday where the community burns Old Man Winter. It's similar to Mardi Gras and has roots in the Swiss Winterfest, but contains lots of crazy scary masks to ward off Winter. It's received national attention and has been something I've wanted to do for years.
I finally went. And in addition to the open mic music, browsing the local shops and museum, the parade and square dancing, there is an awesome little restaurant - The Hutte. They were doing a buffet that Saturday for the festival. But, by buffet, I mean they give you plate with a variety of food. There are no second-helpings, though. For $17, you got their Swiss Sampler Plate: sausage, Hutte chicken, bratwurst, parsley potatoes, green beans, saurkraut, cheese, homemade bread, peach cobbler and a drink.
They also had some beer from Mountain State, which is pretty cool. And the food was so awesome. The potatoes were seasoned to perfection, as were the green beans. The chicken was a curry-pineapple flavor with a chunk of pineapple on top. Excellent. The chunk of cheese had a nice little bite to it, and the bread was so good. Sausage and bratwurst were both perfection - cooked perfectly, just the right amount of seasoning and not too heavy.
I have to give the sauerkraut its own piece here, though. I generally hate saurkraut. My parents made it every new year's, and I couldn't even stand the smell of it. It was sour and made my lips pucker and was just not pleasant.
This sauerkraut was slightly sweet. It had a pickle on top for a little salt and bitterness. But I ate every last bite. I couldn't believe it. It was slightly sweet but tangy and a light crisp to the bite. Just marvelous.
The peach cobbler was probably my least favorite. It wasn't bad, but I was just blown away by the flavors of the main meal.
Yes, it is a little pricey. But where else in WV can you get this kind of authentic Swiss food? Probably nowhere. And it's quite amazing to see this tiny, tiny town get flooded with a ton of people for this festival. It's a small place that you probably wouldn't know existed, as its fairly isolated. But if you ever get the chance, definitely take a look.