Saturday, July 25, 2015

A day of cheese and chocolate in Switzerland

We have taken several tours from the Ramstein/Kaiserslautern area, and appreciate the bus transportation and helpful guides. We decided to copy a tour idea, but travel independently & stay in a hotel rather than go on a 25 hour bus tour to Switzerland.
We drove through Basel, Switzerland, to Bern, and launched our gastronomic tour the following morning. First up was “La Maison du Gruyere”, which means the house of Gruyere (a type of swiss cheese). We took a self-paced audio tour and learned about cheesemaking in Switzerland. The 7 Euro tour fee included a sample of Gruyere cheese, with slices of differently-aged samples…the longer the aging, the more flavorful the cheese. We had lunch at the factory restaurant, enjoying a phenomenal mac’n’cheese and a slice of quiche. I’ll probably never want to make either of those again without Gruyere cheese!
Just up the hill from the cheese factory is a historic castle, providing gorgeous views and a self-paced tour. The surrounding buildings were restaurants, hotels, and shops, but we were eager to proceed to our next stop, so we didn’t spend as much time at Chateau du Gruyere as we could have. Thankfully the castle and church were cooler than the outrageously high outdoor temps.
right= filling of chocolate, middle= hose pours liquid chocolate over the filling, left= next stop: drying tube
The Cailler Chocolate factory tour was informative, fun, and delicious. The first sample of their original chocolate (pictured here in production) was “OK”. The second sample of a small piece of milk chocolate was decent, compared with the German chocolates we’ve become accustomed to. However, the “all-you-can-eat” sample room contained many excellent chocolates that I wouldn’t hesitate to buy. I’m not the biggest fan of white chocolate, but the sample was quite tasty. Their filled chocolates were superb, and only our wallets were happy about the incredible heat wave at hand, so we didn’t buy one single box of chocolates (you all would have received Swiss chocolate soup in the mail). I appreciated the advice I had received before the tour to bring a bottle of water along, in order to pace myself in the sample room. One of each was enough, anyway. The small caramel/chocolate cups were the winner.

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