Saturday, June 12, 2010

Switzerland Is Famous For Two Things

Switzerland is famed all over the world for two things. First, its uniquely tasty chocolates. We made sure to experience this important part of swiss culture by visiting the La Maison Callier.

This museum of chocolate history, in particular Callier chocolate, was very eye opening to the influence of chocolate on the world. Kings, Queens, and Popes set up important trade routes to get chocolate that became foundational to modern trade relations.

The amount of chocolate we saw at this museum was astounding. We got to watch how the chocolate becomes cooked and formed. Unending conveyer-belts were producing bars for hours. The last room of the museum tour was a massive selection of chocolates for us to try. We ate as much chocolate as we could, and loved it!

And our taste testing didn't end there. Later we got to experience the famed Toblerone bar like never before. We ate this 4,500 gram stick of Toblerone chocolate! Toblerone is a special chocolate because it's triangle shape is inspired by the shape of the Matterhorn, a mountain in Switzerland.

The second thing Switzerland is known everywhere for is its particular cheeses. In America we have a category of cheese called "Swiss Cheese." In Switzerland that category has dozens of different cheeses in it and is not limited to a few kinds. One of the most prominent of these is Gruyere Cheese, produced here in Gruyeres. We visited the Chateau de Gruyeres, a cheese museum about Gruyere Cheese.

Matt is giving us a presentation about Swiss Cheese, and explaining to the group how cheeses are made and how aging affects them. Gruyere Cheese in particular is creamy when young, but becomes much stronger as it ages. We had the chance to taste three different ages of the same cheese, and the differences are very clear despite only being a month or two apart.

We got to see first hand the wonder of Swiss Cheese at this fondu restaurant in Gruyere, the Chalet de Gruyere. It was wonderful.

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