With snow upon us last weekend, the temperature has become more biting and the skies more gray. So, time to turn to the indoors for some Swiss flavors and pastimes. That's right. Eating! What better time to focus on the unique tastes of the country?
My weekend began with a visit to La Maison Cailler; Switzerland's oldest chocolate-making factory. Think Willy Wonka. It was that cool. Not only do you take a walk-through, animatronic tour of the history of chocolate and the current factory, but the tour ends in a tasting room where every type of chocolate they produce is available for your taste buds' pleasure. No holds barred. These people are serious about chocolate. (Note: one of the promo videos showed focus groups testing new Cailler products. It made my list of possible new professions.)
My cuisine quest continued with perhaps one of the best meals I've had here: fondue in Gruyeres. I nestled into a window table at a small cozy restaurant back in the medieval village of Gruyeres to indulge in the region's pride and joy. I don't know what they're feeding those cows there, but Gruyeres cheese is simply THE best. Hot and gooey, the fondue was brought to my table like the offering gifts to a catholic altar. And I treated it as such! With a glass of local white wine and the bread and boiled potatoes (typically served with fondue here), I knew this meal would be a memorable one.
I squeezed into the lineup, Rosti; a hot item consisting of grated then fried potatoes that resembles hash browns often topped with cheese or bacon. A great, toasty treat as I was trying to stay toasty inside from the 12 degree weather outside.
To make it a gourmet grand slam (can you tell I missed the World Series?), I finally had raclette. Frankly, I wasn't quite sure what it was despite its touting at many restaurants so I had my reservations about trying it. Raclette is a regional and seasonal specialty consisting of Raclette cheese that is heated with a special raclette-making device and scraped onto the plate as it melts. It is often accompanied by potatoes, pickles, onions, and/or meat. The basic raclette dish I tried was delicious. Then again, for me, it is hard to go wrong with cheese. My raclette was shared over a wonderful dinner and dessert in Bern with David and Tammy. Undoubtedly a great last supper in Switzerland.