Last weekend we visited the Wallis, a beautiful valley on the south side of the Bernese Alps. Its capital, Sion, has an incredible history dating back to prehistoric times. Two imposing structures perch on the two hills that flank the town. One is the ruins of the Chateâu de Tourbillion, a former (and very majestic) bishop's residence. The second is the Basilique de Valère, a beautiful church with Europe's oldest playable organ.
From there, we travelled north through the valley to the town of Brig. This is another lovely old town, home to the unmistakable Stockalperpalast with its three onion domes named for the Three Wise Men, Kaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar.
However, most excitingly, we were able to sample of some of the regional delicacies, as well as a good amount of delicious Walliser wine. The Wallis is famed for its cured meats, cheeses (they are the inventors of the raclette, after all), Nusstorte, and Roggenbrot (rye bread). Inspired by this Walliser bread and the outstanding wine, I decided to try the Walliser dessert Sii.
Sii is a little like bread pudding, only with wine instead of milk. You soak the bread and dried fruit in wine overnight, then mix them together and warm in some butter. This Betty Bossi recipe for Hollermües was my inspiration, however I made two versions and adapted the second to use a delicious Walliser white wine and apricots, instead of the traditional red wine and raisins.
In one bowl mix together:
150 g rye bread, cubed
125 mL wine
75 mL water
In another bowl, mix together:
80 g dried fruit
50 mL wine
Cover and let both bowls rest for at least 12 hours.
When you are ready to serve, mash the bread with a fork until it is soft, then add the fruit mixture and a tablespoon of syrup (hollunder, cassis, treacle, maple).
Heat a knob of butter in a medium pan or pot over medium heat. When the butter is sputtering, add the bread mixture and stir for a few minutes, just until warmed. Dish out, spoon some cream or yogurt over top, and serve immediately with a glass of wine.
- I tried two variations of the dish: the original recipe with raisins and red wine (Dôle), then a variation with a Walliser white wine (Petite Arvine) and chopped, dried apricots. Both worked equally well and tasted good.
- If you are using red wine, go for something light and fruity with not much bitterness. A white wine should also be light and not too dry.
- I used treacle syrup, but traditionally cassis or hollunder (elderflower) is used. If you don't have syrup at hand, a tablespoon of sugar will work.
- Serve with whipped cream, plain or vanilla yogurt, or custard.
- For more on Walliser wine, see here.