Tuesday, March 6, 2012


When a friend of mine, Varun, suggested skiing in Zermatt for a weekend, I couldn’t pass up the chance. Skiing in the SWISS ALPS, a trip to Europe, and the opportunity to eat Swiss chocolate and cheese by the truckload? Who are we kidding, we all know that it is the last one that sealed the deal. 

I started my cheese tasting weekend with some fine wine and gourmet packaged cheese in the lounge at Newark. 

I'll have three, please.

Per usual, since I was flying a US based airlines, there was no menu. My dinner was beef and potatoes with a pretty tasty brownie.

I decided I also wanted some wine – I thought wine on international flights was complimentary – but such is not the case on US-based airways, I suppose. However, because of my youthful looks, the flight attendant gave me a bottle of wine, gratis.

Actual conversation:

Me: Hi, can I have red wine please?

Flight Attendant: Are you 21?

Me: [laughs] Yes, I am actually 27

Flight Attendant: Could have fooled me! Well, I’m going to give you
this bottle for free because you have defied nature!

If United/Continental continue to hire flight attendants such as this one, I could maybe begin to overlook the lack of consistency of the in-flight entertainment quality and (usually lack of) outlets between seats. 

We arrived in Geneva bright and early on a Friday morning. Oh and it was freezing. I saw a café while we were touring the city and saw a drink named “Vin Chaud”. Sold! We all took a vin chaud for the road….to our chocolate tour! 

{One of many vin chauds} 

Oh. I forgot to mention. The second after I booked my ticket to Geneva, I looked up chocolate tours and tastings. I found a place named Stettler chocolates.

The tour itself was very informative. I had no idea how time consuming chocolate making can be – if you are making shapes out of hearts, or filling truffles with flavored ganache. Most chocolate comes from Africa or South America and is processed and then shipped to companies such as Lindt, which make the chocolate and then sell bags of chocolate to Stettler. Stettler and similar companies than melt the chocolate and make their own creations, such as ginger flavored heart shape truffles. 

We were able to sample various kinds of truffles and they gave us a take-home present of chocolates (which I promptly finished on the train to Zermatt). 

Once we arrived in Zermatt, we were starving (though, one could argue I am always starving). Varun suggested we check out this restaurant he and his friends had eaten when they visited Zermatt last year, Restaurant Stadel. INDIVIDUAL FONDUE. It was thick, creamy and delicious. It actually was better than any fondue I’ve made at home! 

I also had a delicious potato and bacon soup, which really hit the spot for a cold night at 5,300 feet elevation. 

Another popular dish was Valais (name of a Canton) dried meat. 

And more melted cheese!

Guess what? Our hotel had FREE BREAKFAST! You all know how much I love breakfast. It was basic but filling. Croissants, bread, jams, coffee. A good start to a full day of skiing ahead. 

The great thing about skiing so high up is that there are tons of restaurants on every run – so that skiers don’t have to head all the way back down to town to eat. We found a place at about 8,400 feet up. I was hoping for pizza (weakness) or more fondue, but I found rosti instead. Rosti is a Swiss dish made out of potatoes and cheese and topped with meat. It was like eating a grilled cheese sandwich on top of a potato latke. Filling enough to keep me going for the rest of the day. 

{Baaaacon! yum!}

After our beautiful ski day from the top of Matterhorn down (something like 12,700 feet) we headed back into Zermatt. We made a pit stop at Zum See for some vin chaud – by far the BEST vin chaud I had the entire trip. Just make sure you make it home before it gets dark and can’t see the trails! 

More warm and tasty beverages - hot chocolate and jagertea...

For my next meal, I wanted to try the other popular Swiss dish – raclette. What I actually ordered was just the type of cheese raclette - not the dish named raclette. The dish raclette is similar to a fondue - but the cheese is heated over a griddle type thing and then you can dip things like bread and meat, eventually scraping the cheese off the griddle.

{Raclette Cheese}

I also had a soup with dinner – the owner of the restaurant was for some reason watching us closely and instructing us on how to eat said soup. You apparently throw in pieces of the cheese, and rip some bread into pieces and also put it into the soup. So it was a quasi French onion soup. 

Our weekend was coming to an end and we needed to head back to Geneva to catch our flight. But not before some snacks for the road! I stopped in at McDonald’s to see what kind of different McFlurries they might have. I found a new one: Toblorone! Except, I was not 100% sure that the chocolate pieces in there were actually Toblorone. Never know till you try, I guess. 

I also picked up a fantastic sandwich with cheese, salami and butter on a really fluffy and crusty baguette at Fuchs Bakery. Seriously – why can’t the lunch spots near my office make sandwiches like this? 

More sandwiches at Fuchs Zermatt...

Once we got back to Geneva, it was nearly midnight. We found ourselves still hungry, but hardly anything is open at midnight in Geneva. We found a donor kebab place – you know you’re in Europe when you eat donor kebabs at midnight! I ordered a doner in a wrap - topped with a little bit of hot sauce - YUM! 

We had an early flight back home, so I grabbed breakfast in the lounge. CROISSANT! And it wasn't the gross soggy kind from Costco - this was perfectly crispy, accompanied by a café au lait.

In summary, my quick trip to Switzerland involved a lot of cheese, a lot of meat, and a lot of vin chaud.

Here’s to hoping I can visit Zermatt again next year!

Edit: My former French teacher Tatiana informed me that my description of raclette was just a bit off. Raclette is melted cheese, but you do not dip anything into it! Happy cheese eaters would heat the surface of the cheese with fire (or on a grill) and scrape the melted part of the cheese over potatoes. 


Trupa said...


Leena said...

Vin Chaud is so good! But everything else looks so good. yummm