Porsche Travel Experience Swiss Alps: where cheese is king
A tastebud-tingling trip to the El Dorado of dairy produce
Numerous cheeses are stored in a metre-high, glass humidor
Switzerland means many things – but nothing more so than cheese. And there’s nowhere else where tradition and innovation combine so harmoniously in such seriously cool surroundings as The Chedi Andermatt in the Swiss Alps
A cathedral to cheeseFive metres high. Temperature-controlled at five degrees Celsius. And stylishly lit by a crystal chandelier. Huge cheeses from all over the region are piled high in the glass cheese humidor on display in the centre of the Gault & Millau-listed restaurant of Swiss luxury hotel, the Chedi Andermatt. Geisskäse goat’s milk cheese from the Göscheneralp. Stander Schafmutschli sheep’s milk cheese. Uri alpine cheese. Gottardo. Grand Crû from Aletsch. Baschi-Chäs from Goms, the home of hotel legend César Ritz. From his tiny mountain village, the hospitality king conquered the whole world, setting new standards for the hotel industry. Some 5km further south west, beyond the Furka Pass, the regional mountain cheeses are stored alongside select rarities. The Chedi is nothing less than an El Dorado for cheese lovers, as well as a great place to stay during the exciting stages between Davos and Zermatt as part of the Porsche Travel Experience Swiss Alps.
A spread of Swiss cheeses accompanied by grapes and plates
Dairy gold: rare Swiss treasures stored in the cheese tower at the Chedi Andermatt
A tale of tradition and natural advantagesSwitzerland produces something like 450 varieties of cheese, many made in small, local cheese dairies. A lot are organic, produced according to old traditional recipes and 99 per cent of them without any additives. It means that these cheeses need to be both produced and stored with extreme care. What makes them so special starts with their unique ingredient – Switzerland’s alpine pastures. This beautiful, fabled land of high peaks, deep gorges, rushing cascades and clear mountain lakes. After a drive through this most arresting of locations, we take a short walk up to one pasture. Here, up to 150 different herbs can be found in any square metre. It’s the fuel for the cows and goats that graze here and the natural raw milk they produce.
Goat pictured in an alpine landscape
Swiss mountain idyll: the sleepy villages are soundtracked by the clanking bells of its dairy herds
For centuries, Swiss mountain farmers have spent the summer months making the finest cheese in their alpine huts. Cheese is made on every alpine pasture and in every village. It seems like everyone is busy stirring, cutting, heating, shaping and pressing their produce in their own particular way. That’s how each type of cheese retains its own typical character. An affineur often refines the cheese by rubbing it with herbs or white wine. Small wonder that traditional cheese-making is a well-guarded tradition and a precious part of Swiss history. Cheese is a source of such great pride here. Numbers are stamped on a cheese wheel to help identify which village dairy and which region the cheese comes from. Ever wondered how the holes get in the cheese? “It happens during ripening,” a cheese maker explains to the participants of the Porsche Travel Experience Swiss Alps. “When the bacteria produce carbon dioxide that can no longer escape through the rind, it gradually ‘grows’ into holes.” In the case of the legendary Emmental, this can lead to over a thousand holes in each cheese wheel.
Hand pushes a cheese trier into a wheel of cheese
Made with the hand, but especially the heart: rigorous, regular testing of cheese is essential here
Cheese and wheels on the Porsche Travel Experience Swiss AlpsWe enjoy this region’s beautiful alpine passes on the return journey to the Chedi. There are five of these classic mountain routes around Andermatt in the Swiss canton of Uri – the Susten, Grimsel, Nufen, Gotthard and Furka Passes. Each is an adventure in itself, but taken in one go they are an even more exhilarating experience. With its spectacular views of the Rhone Glacier and its 30 bends, the Furka Pass is a particular highlight of drivers.
Hotel on a switchback with a mountain backdrop
A former hotel on a hairpin bend on the winding Furka Pass, heading towards Andermatt
A cheese fondue, the perfect way to end the day, is already waiting for us as we at last return home to the Chedi in Andermatt. Participants on the Porsche Travel Experience Swiss Alps savour the many pleasures of this architecturally striking Swiss hotel with its Asian roots. Of course, you can simply come back again and indulge your passion for cheese further – perhaps for a course in alpine cheese making, for example. Now that really does sound like a truly ‘ritzy’ experience.This story is part of the 25 Years of Porsche Travel Experience anniversary series. We take you on a virtual world tour around the globe – with a new, fascinating episode each week. Click here to read all stories.
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