Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cheese and Chocolate

Yum... Our whole day was filled with eating. Traveling to French Swiss territory to the region of La Gruyere we visited a producer of Gruyere cheese and Cailler chocolate factory (the Lindt place is closed on weekends).

You can go through the exhibit on how Gruyere cheese is made and with a rather entertaining audio-guide with a cow as a presenter we discovered that milk from the cows in the Gruyere area can contain up to 86 different flavour coming from the combination of grasses and flowers etc that they eat in the fields. The same region is where the milk is produced for the Cailler cheese. The Gruyere cheese is matured for up to 12 months in 35kg rounds at 14C. A 35kg cheese needs 400 litres of milk (1 cow produces 25 litres per day = 100kg of grass and 85 litres of water). I learnt a lot on the tour. The cellar holds between 4000 and 7000 cheeses at any one time. Given our rough calculations (and I mean really really rough) we worked out that its about 5 million euros worth of cheese in the cellar at any one time.

Callier is in Broc-frabique, a village 1km away from Broc (other side of the hill from the cheese place). All raw materials are brought in by rail (the tracks go right into their offloading warehouses) and all products leaving the factory is also by rail (there are actual train loading stations at the packaging end with rails feeding straight into the national railway system). Callier is the combination of 4 chocolate pioneers in Switzerland that eventually amalgamated into 1 in 1929 under Nestle.

Taking the tour you are lead through a highly dramatic commentary on the history of chocolate making in Switzerland and then to the Centre of Excellence where you can see a mini production station (and taste the chocolate as it comes out). We stocked up on chocolate only to get to the final destination, an entire room filled with all the different brands produced and you can eat as much of it as you possibly can...I felt a little ill after pigging out on lots of dark chocolate.

We overestimated the time all of this would take and managed it fit in Fribourg in on the way back to Zurich. Fribourg is set along a few cliffs (we're still unsure how they were made or what they actually are) and is well worth following the walking tour of (in the clockwise direction...unlike us who took the anti-clockwise direction and hence had to walk UP all the hills).

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