Let’s face it — Switzerland is an emerging epicenter for French, Italian and German-inspired cuisine and has more Michelin starred restaurants per capita than any country in the world. And, their award winning cheeses and chocolates are world renowned. After all, who doesn’t love Swiss chocolate or cheese?
I recently discovered Alpenwild’s food and chocolate tours which showcase the finest regional cuisine in Switzerland over easy walks that range from three to five miles a day, meaning…you get exercise in to make up for all the calories you consume daily at top notch restaurants, often at a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Along the way, participants stay in comfortable, boutique, 3, 4 or 5 star inns and hotels capturing the essence of the Swiss Alps.
Tour de Chocolate
For example, you take in Vevey, the home of Daniel Peter and delicious milk chocolate. On the tour, you learn from a bean-to-bar artisan chocolate maker the steps for roasting, grinding, and conching (a manufacturing process of rolling and smoothing chocolate for several days until it is smooth and refined) chocolate beans into a silky confection.
You get to embark on an unforgettable hunt for fragrant and rare forest truffles in the Jura mountains with an expert truffle hunter and his Lagotto Romangnolo dog. How cool is that?
The Tour de Chocolate journey whisks guests away to a medieval castle, takes them on a cogwheel to the mountain summit, escorts them on a scenic cruise along crystalline Lake Lucerne.
Other cultural gems include a visit to the manor home of Charlie Chapin overlooking Lake Geneva. It is now a museum and recreated Hollywood-style movie studio, which celebrates the life and legacy of the legendary actor and director.
The Tour de Chocolate tour dates are on October 22 to October 28, 2017, as well as during other windows in 2018.
Alpenwild’s culinary adventure in the French-speaking region of Gruyère and Montreux Switzerland enables savvy food lovers to participate in the hands-on art of cheese making where they’ll learn the fascinating 900-year-old procedure to make Gruyère in an alpine chalet over an open wood fire.
Connoisseurs also learn how to bake hearty artisan bread applying ancient techniques in a rustic wood fired oven. And, they can even test their skill at making chocolate truffles while working side-by-side with a master chocolatier.
You have an opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the Romans (love tours that discover the history of the place) and taste fabulous local wines including at the terraced vineyard in Lavaux, an UNESCO World Heritage site.
Other tour highlights include taking a scenic cogwheel rail tour up the mountain, as well as discovering the walled medieval villages and storied castles.
Alpenwild has expeditions on August 27 to September 2, 2017, October 8 to 14, 2017, and in 2018.
Italian Inspired Swiss Cuisine
Here, you head to the canton of Ticino, an emerging epicenter for fine regional cheeses, sausages, fish, pastries, breads, pastas, confections and gelatos.
You take an interactive workshop to first learn how to make a silky batch of gelato and then of course taste afterwards. A local cook teaches cooking enthusiasts invaluable tips for producing an aromatic and perfectly prepared dish of risotto. And, a visit to this region would not be complete without learning how to make panettone, a delicious pastry savored all year long by locals. YAY!!!
You can walk through the Olive Path, a focal point for producing olive oil in the area and wander through the three UNESCO World Heritage castles of Bellinzona. You are also taken on a scenic cruise around Lake Lugano to a local grotto restaurant where they prepare a classic risotto meal from their romantic lakeside terrace.
This expedition takes you to the northern tip of the Italian Alps and dates are October 15 to October 21, 2017, as well as 2018 expeditions.
German Inspired Swiss Cuisine
Set amidst the snow clad peaks of iconic Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau, Alpenwild’s German-inspired food journey exposes adventurous foodies to hearty favorites such as sturdy mountain cheeses, smoky sausages, potato rösti, and schnitzel in the region of the Bernese Oberland.
This journey stops at an 18th-century farmhouse--without electricity or running water–and you prepare fine fare of the era and feast on their creations. You learn how to make rösti, and experiment with other local ingredients such as cheese, onion, bacon, tomato, apple or fresh mountain herbs.
You also learn how to make Apfelstrudel, also known as apple strudel, tour Ballenberg, Switzerland’s open-air museum comprised of a collection of more than 100 restored homes and buildings, as well as take a railway excursion to the Jungfraujoch.
Then you head to Bern, Switzerland’s capital city dating to the 12th century and a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its fountains and distinctive gothic, baroque and classical architecture. And, then onto Lindt, Sprüngli, Teuscher, and Läderach. Dates for this one are October 1 to 7, 2017 as well as the 2018 trip dates.