Culinary experiences in Switzerland
by Karen Bianchi, December 12, 2019
Let’s start with the most famous and obvious when it comes to Swiss food: Chocolate and cheese. That’s what Switzerland is known for all over the world. Of course, you can not only taste and buy these specialties but also have a real culinary experience by visiting a cheese dairy or attending a chocolate workshop.
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Engelberg makes for a great excursion from Lucerne, it’s only 1 hour by train and offers a good range of activities. Besides Mt Titlis – many foreigner’s reason for a visit to Engelberg – there is also an impressive, old monastery with an artisan cheese-making production. Small groups can book a guided tour or a cheese making lesson. And the shop offers a variety of cheeses for all tastes, as well as healthy whey drinks.
If you’re in the medieval village of Gruyeres visit La Maison du Gruyère to discover how the internationally sold cheese is produced and how it tastes. Combine this with a visit to Maison Cailler in nearby Broc where you learn about the history and production of chocolate and have some sweet samples. The museum provides an interactive experience and the opportunity to create your own chocolate bar or take part in a chocolate workshop.
In Interlaken, Funky Chocolate sells chocolate from small Swiss productions, mostly fair trade, and offers workshops where you create and decorate your own chocolate bars. Obviously, you also get to taste lots of chocolate, so it’s very entertaining.
In Emmental a visit to the Emmentaler show dairy can be combined with some workout: Rent an ebike at the train station in Burgdorf and pedal through the rolling hills while taking in the views.
In Swiss cities various kinds of fondue events are offered for a somewhat different cheese experience: In Zurich guests enjoy a fondue dinner in a historic tram and in Berne in a Rikscha touring the city. In Lucerne, Geneva or Zurich you can also book a lake cruise with cheese fondue dinner. And in the family destination Grächen, not far from Zermatt, you may savor a cheese fondue up in the air, in a gondola. But enough of cheese and chocolate now, Switzerland offers much more for foodies!
When in Ticino, Southern Switzerland, you can’t miss eating at a traditional Grotto – an old stone house with cozy terrace where guests sit at big granite tables and eat simple local specialties such as polenta with roast, porcini risotto or charcuterie and cheese. The regional Merlot wine (drunk out of the typical Boccalino bowl) accompanies any dish and after the meal a Grappa or Ticinese Nocino (Schnaps made with walnuts) is a must. Since some of the Grotti around Lake Lugano are reached by foot or boat only, summer Grotto tours have been established, connecting various Grotti with a pleasant boat ride. In Mendrisiotto, Ticino’s wine region, we recommend hiking along one of the vineyard theme trails providing you with interesting facts about the local wine growing. Top off a visit with a delicious meal at some winery, for example at Casa del Vino Ticino.
In the Eastern part of Switzerland, not far from Chur, there is another small and often underestimated wine region: Bündner Herrschaft – sunny home of Heidi, but also of some great wines which enjoy a good reputation among connoisseurs. The area can be explored on wine trails or wine tours. And what’s truly unique here: After a wine tasting, you can even have a good night’s sleep in a converted wine barrel! Since the so-called sleep barrels are heated they may be booked throughout the year.
As well in Eastern Switzerland is the Appenzeller Whiskytrek – the highest located whisky tour in the world. 26 mountain restaurants in the Alpstein area participate, each one serving an individual whisky with its distinctive taste directly from the oak barrel. The idea is to upgrade a hike in stunning surroundings by adding that something extra for whisky lovers. Of course, also shorter tours to only 8 or 9 restaurants are available.
In downtown Berne beer lovers enjoy themselves at the restaurant and brewery “Altes Tramdepot”, a gathering place for locals and visitors alike, located right next to the well-known Bear park. Besides the house beer being brewed directly at the restaurant, seasonal comfort food is served. The big summer terrace offers beautiful views onto Berne’s old town and the Aare river.
And to finish, let’s talk about a typical Swiss treat in fall and winter: Vermicelle – yummie “spaghetti” made out of sweet chestnut puree, mostly eaten with whipped cream and meringue. A must for all chestnut lovers!
When you’re ready to plan your foodie vacation in Switzerland, please contact our experts today by visiting our Switzerland Trip Planner.