Two of the archetypes of Switzerland known the world over – cheese and chocolate – have as many varieties and flavors as Swiss wines. And the passion behind the small producers runs just as deep, demonstrated through their finished products. In the Swiss Alps, you are never far from a fromagerie or käserei, where the specialties depend on the breed and animals they get their milk from, the grass, hay or wild flowers consumed by the animals, as well as regional preferences. And with the exception of the Emmental (home of the large round wheels with the holes in it), you won’t find any that resemble the “Swiss cheese” you thought you knew.
Just as diverse in variety and ubiquitous throughout Switzerland are the chocolatiers. Between the Lindt and Cailler families, who first succeeded in combining cream with cacao to create the milk chocolate that is beloved throughout the world, a veritable empire has grown out of the chocolate industry. And while visits to these “factories” are among the most popular tourist attractions in Switzerland, just as unique are the small artisanal chocolatiers, many of whom offer private ateliers to try your hand at infusing chocolate and making your own truffles or pavés. We have hand-picked the best chocolate experiences in Switzerland, which was a tough job, but someone had to do it.
Whether for a day visit to an alpage for a cheese making demonstration of open-fire production, to a formal tasting of dozens of local cheeses, to a full-blown raclette festival, celebrating the end of the autumn, there are always opportunities to visit with fromageurs to understand the diverse cheese culture in this alpine country. And no trip to Switzerland would be complete without some chocolate-making research and tasting.