Monday, July 4, 2011

Cheese and Chocolate

We spent a lovely day touring the Swiss countryside around Montreux. We visited the little town of Gruyere first. You may recognize the name. Their big claim to fame is cheese. However, the town is also adorable. It is set amongst some craggy peaks and brilliant green countryside around a restored castle.

The castle had a multimedia show on the history of the place which was kind of fun. My favourite part was when the women of the town defended the town by tying branches of fire to the horns of their goat herd and chased them down the hill towards the invading knights. It was a resounding victory for the goats… and a wonderful barbecue feast to celebrate. Just kidding. I’m not sure what happened to the goats.

The town also boasts artists who embrace fantasy as their theme. H Giger, who just had to have designed the alien in “Alien” had a gallery there and a bar as well. We didn’t go into the expensive gallery but managed to get several pictures of the weird bar. The castle is also decked out in fantasy works from other local artists. It is a strange coupling of quaint little traditional village and fantasy artwork. The actual tour of the cheese factory was also well done. For your viewing pleasure, we took a little video of the cheese robot dusting and turning all the cheese in the warehouse.
Things I learned about cheese:
1. The flavours in cheese are enhanced by the cow’s diet. Gruyere has up to 75 different essences in it as analyzed by scientists.
2. Cheese was a way to preserve milk back in the day.

After Gruyere, we drove over to Broc where Nestle/Cailler has a chocolate factory. They also give tours. I didn’t know that Nestle was a Swiss manufacturer of chocolate. Nestle joined Cailler a long time ago when Nestle invented condensed milk for infants. It was just what one of the Cailler inventers had been looking for to mix milk with chocolate. This was how milk chocolate was born. The tour was great and the robot manufacturing was fun to watch. The best part, however, had to be the samples at the end of the tour. They had a dish of wrapped chocolates from the machine we just watched. One of the ladies ahead of us grabbed about half the bowl! Then we rounded the corner and there were trays and trays of samples of every kind of chocolate made by Cailler. We were allowed to sample as many as we wished! This lady kept grabbing handfuls and dumping them in her pockets! The chocolate wasn’t wrapped and the day was hot so I believe she may have ended her greedy behaviour in some regret. I know WE didn’t ever want to SEE another chocolate after we left. I didn’t eat many chocolates but was quite pleased to see the white chocolate tray. A little something for us all…

We ended our day deciding that Montreux was overpriced and if you ever come to Switzerland, skip the overnight and just head to the cheese and chocolate. Then keep driving into the Alps. THEY were well worth the $150/night for a youth hostel.

1 comments: said...

Great having a written chat today. I hope everyone is feeling better. Loved watching the robot and the cheese. Love Mom