Flanked by the powerhouses of France and Italy, Switzerland’s culinary scene can get overlooked. Yet, its talented chefs and food fairs are quickly turning its cities into foodie destinations. Across the Alps you’ll find age-old traditions and belly-hugging experiences that’ll stay with you forever.
t Chocolate workshop at Maison Cailler’s famous factory
The Swiss won’t let you forget that milk chocolate was invented in Switzerland in the 1880s, and it’s possible to visit dozens of factories and artisan chocolatiers across the country to find out how they did it. Unearth the sweet history at Maison Cailler’s historic Broc chocolate factory near Gruyères (www.cailler.ch), or visit the Chocolarium of Maestrani in Flawil (www.chocolarium.ch); it’s the only chocolate factory in Switzerland that lets you onto the production floor.
At the vanguard of the Swiss food revival is traditional go-to comfort food, and each region has its own classic dishes. In Graubünden, that’s a tasty version of Älplermagronen (macaroni cheese elevated with speck), while in Zürich you’ll find Zürcher geschnetzeltes mit rösti served in five-star restaurants and cosy taverns alike.
Created by the famous Swiss physician Dr Bircher-Benner, Birchermuesli has rapidly changed the way the world eats breakfast. The simple meal is made from grated apple, cinnamon, rolled oats, seeds, nuts and dollops of yogurt – with the intention of combatting the ill effects of tuberculosis through better diet – and can be found at every hotel buffet. Strangely, it was actually never intended for breakfast, but as a starter to every meal.
From Appenzeller to Sbinz, the Swiss love cheese and there is plenty of it to enjoy. Build an appetite on the Emmen Valley Cheese Trail, starting in Burgdorf, then tuck into some of the country’s world-famous dishes, such as fondue (bubbling melted cheese for bread dipping) and raclette (grilled cheese for coating potatoes) – the subjects of lifelong obsessions for cheese-lovers everywhere. Cheesy festivals and artisanal markets can be relished across the country all year.
Chocolate is a primary source of wealth for the Swiss; famous brands include Nestlé, Lindt and Toblerone.
Switzerland for Foodies
St Moritz Gourmet Festival, January
Nine days of culinary highs in the mountains.
Food Zürich, May
Ten days with more than 150 dining events, from sizzling street food to five- star banquets.
Risotto Gran Prix, Locarno, September
Chefs go head-to-head in an open-air cook-off on the spectacular Piazza Grande.
Zibelemärit, Bern, November
This centuries-old festival celebrates the humble onion.