Switzerland can be divided into four regions, each with its own language and culture. Despite their distinctive personalities, each honors local foods and culinary arts. The country is known for its chocolate, cheese, wine and sausage. Here’s how you can experience the culinary delights of Swiss cuisine.
In Switzerland, children indulge in bread and chocolate as their afternoon snack. The Swiss have created a whole chocolate manufacturing industry that includes truffles, pralines, mousses and cakes. In 1819, François-Louis Cailler opened one of the first chocolate production facilities in Corsier near Vevey to create the oldest brand of Swiss chocolate still in existence today.
One way to indulge in chocolate is on The Swiss Chocolate Train, a genuine 19th century Belle Époque Pullman car that travels from Montreux to medieval Gruyères. See a cheese dairy, a castle and the Cailler-Nestlé factory in Broc on your ride.
Rail Center GoldenPass Services, CP 1426, 1820 Montreux, +41 840 245 245 www.mob.ch
A visit to one of the chocolate makers gives you a chance to see how the delicacies are made, take a tour, taste treats and load up on chocolates. Chocosuisse represents 18 different chocolate makers large and small across the country. Some that are open to the public include Cailler-Nestlé, open April through October; La Maison Cailler, rue Jules Bellet 7, 1636 Broc
Tel: + 41 (0)26 921 59 60; Alprose, open daily, Chocolat Alprose SA Via Rompada 36 - 6987 Caslano-Lugano, Switzerland, +41 91 611 88 88; and Maestrani, open Monday through Saturday, Toggenburgerstrasse 41, Postfach, CH-9230 Flawil 1, +41 (0)71 228 38 11.
The Swiss Michelin Guide awarded a third star to Schauenstein (http://www.schauenstein.ch/), a hotel restaurant in Fuerstenau in Graubuenden. The guide gave three restaurants two-star status and named 14 new one-star eateries, making it the country with the most Michelin stars per capita.
Another way to dine on the fresh foods found in Switzerland is through the various markets held in each town once or twice a week. Farmers, butchers, bakers and cheese makers showcase their wares at markets in Bellinzona, Chur, Basel and Solothurn.
This museum in Ballenberg near Brienz keeps the history of food alive. From spring to autumn, you can watch sausage, cheese, chocolate and bread being made and take some home with you.
Swiss Open-Air Museum Ballenberg, Museumsstrasse 131, CH-3858 Hofstetten, +41 (0)33 952 10 30, www.ballenberg.ch
Switzerland features more than 50 grape varieties for making wine. You can travel to the Valais to taste the Petite Arvine and Amigne (white), the Humagne rouge and Cornalin (red); or to the shores of Lake Geneva for the red Petit Robert; or to Lake Zürich for the white Räuschling; or to the Bündner Herrschaft, where the Completer grows.
Visit vineyards while the vines are just ripening their grapes to taste their varieties. The largest wine growing areas are in Western Switzerland on the shores of Lakes Geneva, Neuchâtel, Biel and Murten, and along the valley of the Rhone in the Valais.
or a scenic tour, choose the Lake Geneva region. There you can find the Lavaux vineyards above Lake Geneva and sample wines in the Caveau des Vignerons in Lutry. www.vins-vaudois.com
For the highest vineyards in Europe, try the Valais where Visperterminen is located. Try a variety of 500 local wines at Château de Villa in Sierre. www.vinsduvalais.ch
In the southern part of Switzerland sits Ticino with its wine trail between Gudo and Biasca. Stop in at one of the grotti (traditional inns) along the way to sample wines. www.ticino-tourism.ch
Indulge in the world of Heidi in Maienfeld where a different winemaker opens its doors to the public every weekend from April to November. www.buendnerweine.ch
Swiss Cheese - Switzerland is home to more than 450 varieties of cheese, and although each tastes different, it starts from the same source - Swiss cows grazing on grass in lush meadows. Look for Emmentaler AOC; spicy Appenzeller; smooth, soft Vacherin Mont d’Or AOC; tangy cheeses such as Sbrinz AOC; aromatic ones like Le Gruyère AOC; or Tête de Moine AOC, which can be shaved into ornate rosettes.
The best way to taste a variety is at a weekly market found in every city. Visit the cheese maker stands to find wheels of cheese ready for purchase.